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Scott D. Pierce: Fox has a few tricks up its sleeve for the Super Bowl

Published February 2, 2014 12:27 pm

Technology will show which way the wind blows; just how cold players are during Sunday's Super Bowl.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Super Bowl is, without a doubt, the biggest event in television every year. It is, arguably, the biggest event in America every year.

It was not always quite the enormous production it is now, however.

"I took a cab to the Super Bowl in '84," said Fox NFL analyst Howie Long. "Lyle Alzado and I got stuck in traffic."

The two Raiders were caught in traffic gridlock on the way to the stadium in Tampa, Fla.

"We walked the last three quarters of a mile with an angry Lyle," said Long. And Alzado was known for his towering temper even when things were going his way.

It's funny now; it wasn't so funny then. But things have changed greatly in the past three decades.

"Now they shut the entire city down," said Long, who recalled walking around Indianapolis with Phil Simms before the 2012 Super Bowl and being amazed by the helicopters buzzing overhead and the Super Bowl logos projected on the sides of local hotels.

"And you're saying, 'Where is the ceiling on this?'" he said. "It's amazing how far we've come from that Super Bowl in '84 till now. Just amazing."

The numbers associated with Fox's coverage of the matchup between Denver and Seattle are equally amazing — if more than a bit familiar at this point:

More than 50 • The number of cameras in MetLife Stadium

14 • The number of robotic cameras

More than 600 • The number of Fox staffers

More than 5,000 • Square feet of office and editing space

More than 6,000 • Square feet of technical space, including four control rooms.

28 • The number of office trailers stacked two stories high

And, as always, Fox will attempt to institute some new technology to its telecast.

"There's always something," said Fox Sports president Eric Shanks. "And even though you know the Super Bowl is coming every year, things still sneak up on you because technology always takes longer than you thought."

Three years ago, for example, Fox Sports was the first to employ 4k, high-definition cameras in what the network called Fox Super Zoom, "and that was right up until the last second," Shanks said. There will be six of those in MetLife Stadium this year.

"We have a few things up our sleeve that are going to bring the fans closer and hopefully kind of be that definitive angle," Shanks said. Including something that will show fans "something that you can't see, which is wind. You might actually be able to see very accurately what the wind is doing to the quarterback or to a field goal kicker. We'll have something that hopefully will show a definitive angle if a field goal is good or not good."

And, in the event that it is super-cold in New Jersey on Sunday, Fox plans to let us know how cold the players are.

"We have this infrared camera that we're going to show a player's body temperature on the field like 'The Terminator' or something like that," Shanks said. "I don't know what story that tells, but it might make for some pretty cool pictures."

Except … the forecast for what's anticipated to be the coldest-ever Super Bowl isn't all that cold — somewhere around a high of 40 on Sunday.

Which could mess up those pretty pictures.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.