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Volume 26 No. 175
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Networks Get High Marks For Cowher, Johnson's HOF Surprises

Pro Football HOF President David Baker's appearances on CBS' "The NFL Today" and Fox' halftime show for Packers-Seahawks to tell Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson that they have been named to the HOF were "two of the best television moments of the football season," according to Rodger Sherman of THE RINGER. Cowher on Saturday was "caught completely off guard, and he was soon holding back tears." Yesterday, Baker "showed up on Fox's set to do the same thing" for Johnson. Sherman: "You'd think a surprise wouldn't work the second time, but guess what. It was just as good" (THERINGER.com, 1/13). Johnson, after Baker surprised him with the news, said, "The only thing I can think of is all the assistant coaches who worked for me, all the great players who played for me are the reason. I can't talk" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/13).

HOW 'BOUT THAT, COWBOY: In DC, Bieler & Boren write Johnson's surprise was one of the "most compelling moments" of Fox' broadcast of Packers-Seahawks. Johnson "grew teary-eyed as he received the news and words of congratulations" from Baker, and "got choked up as he tried to give voice to his feelings." But Johnson "wasn't the only former Dallas great visibly affected by the moment." Shown watching the moment on a monitor from Lambeau Field was HOFer Troy Aikman, who also "appeared to grow emotional" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/13). THE ATHLETIC's Richard Deitsch writes Fox' halftime was "great television," and the net keeping a camera on Aikman in the booth "produced a really nice understated moment" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/13).

COWHER'S HALL CALL: NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King writes Cowher's surprise was the "pre-game TV moment of the year." King: "The capper: his family surprising him on-set with big hugs" (NBCSPORTS.com, 1/13). THE ATHLETIC's Deitsch notes the surprise announcements "came with a code name: Operation Gold Jacket." CBS Sports President David Berson was among the "core holders of the secret" who made the "decision not to tell any on-air staffers to prevent leaks." On Friday, "The NFL Today" producer Drew Kaliski "told his lead graphics coordinator, James Peretzman, about the news so that the show would have Hall of Fame graphics ready." Then on Saturday, Kaliski told "The NFL Today" researcher Brian Coyle to "have prep for host James Brown right before the announcement" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/13). In Pittsburgh, Gerry Dulac notes Cowher's wife, Veronica, and daughter, Meagan, were "waiting behind stage" for Cowher, after they were "told of the surprise only an hour earlier and were rushed to the CBS Studio" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/13).

WELL WORTH THE ATTENTION: SI.com's Albert Breer writes the live, surprise announcements for Johnson and Cowher likely were "publicity stunts by the Hall to try and get eyeballs on the reveal of the rest of the special 15-man class" Wednesday morning on NFL Network. However, that "doesn’t make either less awesome," and it does not "make the reaction of their colleagues hit home any less" (SI.com, 1/13).