Fox fields vet­eran team for Su­per Bowl LI

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

At a time of po­lit­i­cal ac­ri­mony that just won’t quit, the Su­per Bowl still brings the coun­try to­gether.

Last year, 112 mil­lion peo­ple watched the game, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen. The next-big­gest TV event, the first pres­i­den­tial de­bate, drew 84 mil­lion view­ers, an au­di­ence dif­fer­en­tial that’s lit­er­ally the size of the pop­u­la­tion of Texas.

Whether you come for the game, the ads, or the na­chos, the Su­per Bowl is one of the last truly main­stream cul­tural events on the cal­en­dar.

And un­like the po­lit­i­cal de­bates, when Amer­ica sits down to watch TV to­gether on Sun­day night, it will see noth­ing jar­ring. Just a bunch of fa­mil­iar faces, mostly men of grand­fa­ther age.

The av­er­age age of the Fox broad­cast crew is al­most 55, the sec­ond-old­est ever to han­dle the big game. For­mer coach Jimmy John­son, now 73, will be­come the old­est per­son to cover a Su­per Bowl on tele­vi­sion, best­ing John Mad­den by a few months.

Side­line re­porter Erin An­drews, at 38, will be the only broad­caster on the squad this Sun­day un­der the age of 45. Of the nine peo­ple Fox will put on cam­era, An­drews is the only woman. This is also a Su­per Bowl tra­di­tion.

When NBC and CBS air the game, the only on­screen role for women is the side­line re­porter. In the 1970s and ’80s, women oc­ca­sion­ally ap­peared as an­a­lysts and pregame hosts, but no woman has had a non side­line role on the broad­cast since 1992, when Les­ley Visser was a tro­phy pre­sen­ter.

Donna de Varona, an Olympic gold medal swim­mer, was a TV broad­caster 14 years be­fore she did a live open­ing seg­ment at the Steel­ers-Cow­boys Su­per Bowl in 1979. She worked two Su­per Bowls over a 35-year broad­cast­ing ca­reer.

“Get­ting the as­sign­ment was al­ways the prob­lem. But that was com­pet­i­tive for ev­ery­one, not just women.”

Thirty-eight years af­ter de Varona’s first game, the MVP from that game, Terry Brad­shaw (pic­tured), will be part of the in-stu­dio crew. He’s 68 years old, and this will be his 17th Su­per Bowl out of uni­form.

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