For the broadcast team, the day of the game begins with the production meeting with Coach Gailey in the morning. When that is complete, we meet as a TV group (Steve Tasker, Ray Bentley, producer Joe Pinter, executive producer Marc Honan and myself) and go over the plan for the game. After the meeting we usually have a little free time. This past week I went to this gym at the hotel on Friday morning. (By the way, The Minneapolis Hyatt has one of the best facilities you will ever see). I usually see some of the coaches or staff members there. In fact this week GM Buddy Nix was working out and I can report that Buddy is serious about his workouts too.
The team has the series of buses set up outside the hotel getting ready to leave for the game. They are staggered at different intervals because some players like to get to the stadium much earlier than others. I took the next to the last bus and it got me right inside Mall of America Field in perfect time to do my pre game work. I went right to the production truck to get my announcer reads for the night then walked on the field to get my bearings for the evening. I will say wearing a "Network Television " credential in the preseason is pretty sweet. I can go just about anywhere and everyone is nice about it. Now I know how Tasker feels working for CBS.
Once the game ends, all of the travel components go into overdrive. The players get a small cooling off period then it's time for the post game interviews. While all of this is going on, all of the equipment and jerseys and pads are being packed up on put on the team bus. The players get showered and changed, go through security at the stadium, then head on the bus for the airport ride. You better have your eye on your watch because once the players are all set and the coaches are on board, the buses are moving out. A police escort gets the team through traffic and on its on the way to the airport. The bus pulls up on the tarmac, everyone loads on the plane like they did in Buffalo and in an amazingly short amount of time, we are doing the taxi down the runway and in the air to Buffalo.
I believe I am the only one on the plane who still has an hours drive after the plane arrives in Buffalo. A 60 minute drive down the Thruway to Rochester doesn't seem like much until you do it, as I did Friday night, at 3:30 in the morning. But hey, the game started at 8 Rochester time and we were taking off for home at two am. That's six hours from kickoff to takeoff. Not bad.
For two seasons I traveled to every Bills game on the road with the team. Now I only travel that way for the preseason. But it's a pretty amazing experience and it goes on for 16 NFL teams just about every week from September to January. Maybe this is year I will get to travel with the team for a playoff game.
If you have any questions or comments email me at MCatalana@13wham.com