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Game gives CBS a Super practice
By ERNEST HOOPER
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000
TAMPA -- Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms and Armen Keteyian climbed aboard the Jose Gaspar and posed for pictures with Ye Mystic Krewe pirates Saturday.
With WTSP-Ch. 10 news anchor Reginald Roundtree serving as a guide, CBS' top NFL broadcast team also got a tour of Ybor City on Saturday. NFL on CBS producer Mark Wolff and coordinating producer Larry Cavolina took advantage of the trip to get some hand-rolled cigars.
If only all of CBS' preparation for Super Bowl XXXV was as easy.
CBS is on hand for today's broadcast of the Jets-Bucs game, but any time the crew comes to Tampa it's a dress rehearsal for January's mega game. Of course, posing for promotional photos and filming segments for the local affiliate hardly constitutes the most difficult aspects of game preparation.
Officially, CBS has been preparing for the Super Bowl since last season. But in reality, it's debatable how long the network has been gearing up for the game. Essentially, network officials have been making plans since CBS reacquired rights to the NFL in January 1997.
Wolff notes he's been getting ready since he broke into the business 30 years ago. Ditto for Cavolina.
As a crew, every fall Sunday has been a chance to perfect its craft and grow closer. Wolff said his team, which includes people who have worked with him and Cavolina at other networks, is like a family.
"I know it sounds cliche, but it's true," Wolff said. "From Greg, Phil and Armen, to the technical people to us, there's no delineation. (The on-air talent) is involved in the production meetings. And I think we all appreciate them being involved."
Wolff's family assertion is supported by the ease with which the quartet joke with each other. It's clear they already have built good memories.
The serious aspects of this trip came later Saturday when Wolff and Cavolina went to Raymond James Stadium. The two are familiar with the facility and believe everything is in place for a successful broadcast. But there's always more that can be done.
"You just keep on refining the play up until the Super Bowl," said Wolf, who will continue to study camera location, security issues and other issues such as shade and sun.
The big change came two years ago when Bucs and Tampa Sports Authority officials helped Cavolina lower the camera locations.
"Now the sight lines are sensational," Cavolina said. "You want to give the viewer at home the feeling he has the best seat in the house. You can't give them that feeling when you have a severe angle. When the angle is lower, the feeling is much more intimate."
What you will see today will not be that different from CBS' Super Bowl broadcast. Oh sure, they won't have as many cameras and you're likely to see some fancy graphics on Jan. 28. But Cavolina said he and Wolff always remind themselves to make the game tantamount.
"A wedding dress is a fancy dress, but it's still a dress," Cavolina said. "The Super Bowl is the same thing. It's a fancy game, but it's still a game."