SBD/February 4, 2013/Media

CBS Sports' McManus Says It Was "A Scramble" When Lights Went Out

McManus says that only 11 of CBS' 62 cameras were operative during the outage
CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus last night said that his production truck "had no communication with his announcers immediately after" the power outage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during the start of the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII, according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. McManus said they eventually got sideline reporters Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots "up but we had no communication with Jim Nantz." McManus: "Once we did get communication with Jim, he could not see any monitors. He could only hear us sporadically. It was a scramble to figure out what had happened and to do the best job covering it." He said that only 11 of CBS' 62 cameras were "working during the power outage (three cameras above the field and eight cameras on the ground) and they used what they had to show players on the field." Deitsch notes the CBS' "The Super Bowl Today" on-air crew "hustled back" to the net's on-field set, and James Brown, Bill Cowher, Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe "went into extended filler time." Boomer Esiason was "absent because he was serving as the analyst on radio broadcast for Dial Global." Cowher and Sharpe were "very good here, with Sharpe hammering home that the momentum was going to favor the Niners after the break." Tasker and Wilcots "continued to provide reporting, with Tasker remarkably revealing that he had told Niners coach Jim Harbaugh how long the delay would be while Wilcots said Ravens coach John Harbaugh had told him the same thing." What CBS "needed to do a better job of was identifying for viewers what they were seeing during the power outage." There was "no NFL official on the set to explain what had happened, which would have been invaluable information." McManus said, "I think under very, very difficult circumstances -- and remember we were trying to get all of our equipment back -- I think our guys did a very good job with limited information, and for awhile, very limited production resources" (SI.com, 2/4).

CBS DROPPED THE BALL: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes viewers were "left with unanswered questions as CBS Sports’ sideline reporters, and the rest of the cast, failed to go into a reporting mode." There was "no outrage, no questioning how a thing like this could happen on the NFL’s biggest night of the year." Not once during the 34-minute delay "did a representative of the National Football League appear on camera to attempt to explain what caused half the Superdome to lose power." Raissman: "Why should they? No one from CBS put any pressure on them." CBS at one point had a "shot of John Harbaugh screaming at some suit who we assumed worked for the NFL (we take that grand leap because CBS never identified who the gentleman was)." Raissman: "Why not stick a microphone in Harbaugh’s face and ask him why he was angry?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/4). Also in N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes CBS' Phil Simms and Nantz through the end of the game "made no issue out of the failure of an NFL official to appear on the sideline to explain the blackout to Tasker or Wilcots." Even without a full explanation, the NFL "should have provided someone to tell CBS what it knew" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4). DAILY VARIETY's Brian Lowry writes, "If the delay showed anything, it's how ill-equipped sportscasters often are when it comes to dealing with anything that isn't about the game" (VARIETY.com, 2/4).

OUT OF THEIR ELEMENT: SPORTS ON EARTH's Will Leitch writes Tasker was a "stuttering, ghostly, terrified profile in flop sweat." He went from "'sideline reporter' to 'Wait, the entire planet is looking at me right now?!' in a nanosecond, and it showed." Wilcots, who was on the other sideline, "kept popping in to tell us he didn't know anything." However, Tasker and Wilcots "were Jim McKay in Munich" compared to Brown and the rest of the studio crew. Cowher "impersonated a robot incapable of processing any commands that didn't involve introducing football highlights," while Marino "just sort of mumbled, confused, which led, lord help me, Shannon Sharpe to fill the void." While all that was going on, CBS "provided us with zero information." Leitch: "I couldn't help but wonder how much better NBC or ESPN would have been with this" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 2/4).

WORTHY OF SOME PRAISE: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes CBS handled the delay "competently and then caught a break when the 49ers turned a blowout into compelling theater." Tasker and Wilcots "did good work updating viewers during the delay" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 2/4). The AP's Jake Coyle wrote Tasker was "the MVP on the night" (AP, 2/3).
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