super bowl xlv

Final thoughts on Dallas

February 8th, 2011 at 1:29 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

I’ve had a bit of time to digest my thoughts on our Super Bowl XLV trip (and catch up on sleep – at least a bit).

The roads in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were covered in ice for much of the week

Overall, it was an amazing experience. It was a lot of work for everyone, and those who are here at the station today sound very tired. But we accomplished an incredible amount. It was great to read and hear the nice comments from viewers through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and in person. It was a long week, but that was because we packed in an awful lot. And brought home a Packers victory!

Aside from the game, the biggest story was the weather. Tuesday’s ice storm was just the beginning of three and a half days of cold, ice and snow. Clearly, snowplows and road salt are in short supply in North Texas. The best they could do was put down sand on the roads. While that did give drivers a bit of traction, probably the bigger effect was to turn streets, sidewalks and people’s cars brown. It was cold, too. Wind chills were below zero one morning, and local newscasts said it was the coldest weather the area had seen since 1996. Some of the parties hosted by big-name celebrities were also canceled because of the weather. To be fair, the crews who arrived on Saturday said the weather was beautiful that day, so much so that they ate dinner outside. It was also nice the first Sunday and the following Friday, Saturday and Super Bowl Sunday morning. While the area received a lot of negative reaction to its handling of Super Bowl week, a historic winter storm really could not have been controlled.

Now that I’ve been to the area, I would like to check it out sometime when it’s warmer. Not too warm; we were told temperatures routinely top 100° in the summer. The Fort Worth Stockyards seemed especially interesting. I’m not much for “cowboy” stuff, but the western wear shop we visited Thursday morning was a lot of fun. So was the saloon across the street. Those two establishments have been in business for over 100 years, so there is some authentic history there. The rest of the stockyards also sounded interesting, with live cattle drives and other events like rodeos regularly scheduled there.

Dealey Plaza and The Sixth Floor Museum were also interesting. I won’t rehash my thoughts on that here; you can read my previous blog post for that.

Several of the FOX 11 crew work in the media center during Super Bowl week (courtesy Rachel Manek/Facebook)

Our home for the week was the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Dallas. It was the officially-designated hotel for media, so there were many features right there.

The biggest, of course, was Radio Row, where many sports talk radio shows set up camp for the week. It was also the destination for several celebrities and ex-players who came in to be interviewed. Off the top of my head, I can remember seeing Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Hugh Jackman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jerome Bettis, Archie Manning, Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx and Herschel Walker. (Click here for a video tour of Radio Row)

Next to Radio Row was a media work room that was our second home for much of the week. Each station was set up with electricity and an Internet connection, so we were able to do all of our story writing, video editing and website updates right from there.

To actually do our reporting, we were on our own to get where we needed to go. The station rented seven cars for the 13 people on the crew, so we were able to be represented in a lot of different places at once. We had heard the Dallas-Fort Worth area is spread out, and that’s an understatement. Fort Worth is about 40 miles to the west of Dallas. Arlington, where Cowboys Stadium and Rangers Ballpark are, is about halfway between the two main cities. The airport is another 25 miles or so to the northwest of Dallas. And the metro area doesn’t feel like Milwaukee or Chicago, where you drive through several continuous suburbs when you’re going to or from the city. It seems like each community in the area is its own separate entity. I also found driving in downtown Dallas to be somewhat of a challenge (especially compared to Fort Worth, whose streets seem to follow a grid system much more closely). You can read more about that here.

The Packers are recognized as Super Bowl XLV champions on Cowboys Stadium's giant scoreboard

After all that, it can be hard to forget we were there for a football game. While I didn’t get to the see game in person (read more about that here), I was inside the stadium. I was also on the field for Media Day and part of the postgame show.

From what everyone said, the giant scoreboard makes it seem like you’re watching the game on your own TV, especially if you’re up high in the stadium. I didn’t get up to that area to see it for myself, but I believe it. Overall, the stadium still has a “new” feel to it, which isn’t surprising since it’s only two years old.

The scene outside the stadium before the game was also exciting. Both the Packers and Steelers have passionate fan bases and were well represented at the game. It was fun to see the back-and-forth cheering between the two sides.

All of our time cards for the week showed similar totals

So it was a fun, yet exhausting week. Most days were 12-16 hours of work. I was up before 5:30 a.m. every day, and some days didn’t get to bed until 11:00 or midnight. On game day, we left the hotel at 5:15 a.m. and didn’t get back until about 1 a.m. the next day. Many of the staff still had work to do after that, so we were all very bleary-eyed on the flight home the next day.

Still, it’s been a privilege to bring the Super Bowl to FOX 11′s viewers back home in Northeast Wisconsin. We hope we gave you a good sense of the experience and an idea of everything that was going on.

For me personally, it’s also been fun to keep you updated on this blog. I appreciate the comments I’ve received through Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. Thank you for following along, and if you have any comments to make, don’t hesitate to leave them below.

Now on to Super Bowl XLVI!

Home again

February 7th, 2011 at 4:22 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

We’re back! The first wave of 11 has made it back to the station safe and sound. It feels good to be home.

I’m dead tired right now, but I’m hoping to post a wrap-up blog post tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, everyone. It’s been a fun ride.

Packed and ready to go

February 7th, 2011 at 6:26 am by under Super Bowl XLV

It’s been an amazing week, but it’s definitely time to go home.


13-time world champions!

February 6th, 2011 at 9:06 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

Congratulations Packers!

At Cowboys Stadium, ready to watch the game…on TV

February 6th, 2011 at 5:24 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

This is the view from my seat

How are you watching Super Bowl XLV?

Chances are it’s pretty similar to how I am: on TV. Yes, I’m at Cowboys Stadium, but my credential only allows me access to the media workroom.

There’s one big difference, though.

There’s no cheering in the press box. So my “party” will be a little quieter than yours.

The spread in the media workroom. I was too late for the chicken strips.

My Super Bowl dinner

Steelers fans

February 6th, 2011 at 3:32 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

A Packers fan and a Steelers fan exchange some friendly barbs at a Packers party

We haven’t come in direct contact with too many Steelers fans this week. (Of course, we haven’t been looking for them either.)

But what we’ve seen is they’re a lot like Packers fans. They’re passionate, they travel well and they’re very respectful. Most of the interaction between Steelers and Packers fans I’ve seen has been good-natured and friendly.

This morning, we stopped a small group of Packers fans and had them stand in place so we could shoot live video of them. While they were waiting, a group of Steelers fans stopped and joined them. After our live picture was finished, the fans shook hands and wished each other a good game.

When you think about it, you realize there are a lot of similarities between the two teams and fan bases (besides the yellow pants). Both teams play in blue-collar towns with hard-working people. Both teams have been around since the early days of the NFL. And both lead the NFL in one category of championships: the Packers have the most NFL championships overall at 12; the Steelers have the most Super Bowl championships at six.

It should be a good game.

A long week for families

February 6th, 2011 at 2:14 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

Drew Smith takes time to do a video chat with his family before Super Bowl XLV

While it’s been a privilege to cover the Super Bowl, our trip has kept us away from our families since last weekend.

With a few hours between our live pre-game show and the game, some of our crew took the opportunity to check in with their families. Drew Smith used Skype to do a video chat with his wife and daughters. And Todd, one of our photojournalists did a little texting with his wife and young daughter – who was sending messages of random letters because she’s too young to understand how to text.

Paige Pearson, who’s sitting on my left, just commented on how much she misses her boyfriend.

So while we’re excited for the game, we’re also looking forward to seeing family again back home.

NFL Shop

February 6th, 2011 at 11:36 am by under Super Bowl XLV

I’m finally getting a chance to upload some pictures I took at the NFL Shop on Thursday.

The shop is at the exit of the NFL Experience, which you have to pay to get into in the first place. And, as you can imagine, the prices at the shop aren’t exactly cheap. T-shirts are $40+, baseball caps are $34 or $38.

There is, of course some unique stuff…and I suppose if you’re paying $2,000 for a game ticket, a $40 T-shirt might not be such a big deal.

Game Day morning

February 6th, 2011 at 10:39 am by under Super Bowl XLV

Well, game day is finally here and we’ve been live on the air since 7:00. That meant an early morning for us. Wake-up call came at 4:30. We then had to make the 25-minute drive to Arlington, where we parked at J. Gilligan’s (the bar that held the pep rally yesterday) and took a shuttle over to the stadium.

Paige Pearson and Rachel Manek broadcasting live outside Cowboys Stadium

It was a jam-packed extended version of Good Day Wisconsin form Cowboys Stadium. Rachel Manek acted as an anchor from the field, and she was joined by Mark Leland, Laura Smith, Paige Pearson, Drew Smith, Johnnie Gray and yours truly. Plus, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt stopped by for a chat. We had a lot of fun waking people up this morning with our stories from North Texas.

And we also got to see a beautiful sunrise (there’s a picture of it in my last post). It was chilly this morning, as you’d expect, but now the sun is out and it’s quite pleasant. I’d say it’s around 50 degrees.

Right now, Drew and Johnnie are wrapping up their pre-game show, then we turn it over to FOX for the national shows that lead up to the game. We’re just a few hours away now!

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt joins Rachel Manek outside Cowboys Stadium

Morning at the Super Bowl

February 6th, 2011 at 7:46 am by under Super Bowl XLV

It’s a beautiful morning here at Cowboys Stadium. Lots of satellite trucks in the parking lot, reporters and photographers on the scaffolding for shots overlooking the stadium – oh, and an absolutely gorgeous sunrise.

We’ll be live here all morning until 11 and after the game, so check us out on FOX 11!