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Volume 24 No. 156
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NFL Network's Mark Quenzel Discusses Plans For Coverage Of Upcoming Games

NFL Network Senior VP/Programming & Production Mark Quenzel joined the league-owned net in late ’10 after a stint as Six Flags Entertainment Corp. Exec VP/Park Strategy & Management. Since then he has had overall responsibility for programming and production decisions, acquiring content and managing on-air talent. With the net set to kickoff its sixth season of live regular-season games with tonight’s Raiders-Chargers matchup, Quenzel spoke about its coverage, programming and the new voices in the broadcast booth for the ’11 season.

Q: How has the NFL Network broadcast evolved over the years?
Quenzel: We’re better at what we do, and we’ve been doing it for a few years now. When the network started doing games, obviously the camera coverage was fine (but) we’re doing a better job now, and I think we’ll do a much better job this year at sort of getting to the next level, which is to tell the stories, to really inform people, keep context to what’s going on. It’s not just one play after another. We try to do more in terms of talking about where the league is. ... The game in front of us is important -- we have some great games but we try to give context to the league.

Q: Will viewers see any new technologies/graphics/innovations in this year’s broadcasts?
Quenzel: I wouldn’t say there’s anything groundbreaking. We’re always tweaking things. It’s not the technology itself. It’s how you use it, and we’ve worked very hard to make sure we use those types of technology … to make sure that we’re telling stories. That’s really what we’re focused on, to use the technology to tell the story, not just throw it up there so we can say we have it.

Q: If you were uninhibited in terms of technology, is there an innovation or technology that you wish you had or could use?
Quenzel: The thing that we’re always trying to do is to put the viewer at the line of scrimmage, right by the out-of-bounds lines I want them not to just see it. Everyone’s pretty good at showing you what’s happening. I want them to hear more of the sights, the sounds, try to become more intuned with the incredible speed of the game, size of the game. But I’d say a big thing is audio and trying to get audio on the field. Obviously, you have to be careful with that. That level of intensity is something that I’d really like to try and figure out how to do more of.

Q: What are the challenges for the net’s new broadcast team of Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, who are often more closely associated with college football than with the NFL?
Quenzel: Mike brings a level of technical expertise to the game that I’d say is unparalleled to some degree, in terms of the players and what they’re doing. I’m really looking forward this year to taking the viewers inside the game. He is incredibly plugged in to all these NFL coaches (and) the players themselves. Mike does his homework. Brad’s done some NFL games, but Brad is just an outstanding play-by-play broadcaster. One of Brad’s hallmarks internally is that nobody does more homework. From a play-by-play standpoint, he also believes less is more. He tries to give the game space. I’m not worried about either one of them. The challenge that we face, if anything, is to integrate their styles.

Quenzel says he is fortunate to be able to work
with likes of Alex Flanagan, Mayock and Nessler
Q: You manage and direct the on-air talent for the broadcasts. How do you handle the various personalities and how much direction are you giving leading up to a game broadcast?
Quenzel: I’m pretty heavily involved in it, actually. I’m very fortunate. I’m not going to say I’ve never worked with divas. I have. I’m not working with any now. Mike is clearly the centerpiece of what we do on “Thursday Night Football.” We all have to be on the same page when the game starts. We have to discuss, which we do a lot leading up to the days before, very intensely. 

Q: Being a league-owned property, does that afford you any special access or an advantage in any way compared to the other networks?
Quenzel: I don’t see any difference at all, which I think is a good thing. We don’t get any additional advantages. None. The flip side of that is we don’t get any interference. We can say what we want to say, we can do what we want to do, and that’s the way it should be.

Q: The Cowboys have appeared on an NFL Network broadcast every season. Is it necessary to have a marquee team on the broadcast or is the NFL brand powerful enough it doesn’t matter? 
Quenzel: I don’t need the Cowboys games. I’m very thankful that I have a Cowboys game. They rate very well, but looking at this in this day and age I look at our schedule. … I’ve got six teams that are either in or tied for first place. It’s a quarterback-driven league and I go down the schedule: Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo. ... I’ve got nothing to complain about.