FOXBOROUGH -- What goes into preparing for a "Monday Night Football" broadcast?
It was a question I asked ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski after this morning's production meeting at the Renaissance Hotel at Patriot Place.
There were 25 ESPN staffers in the room, everyone from graphics folks, to lead producers to the makeup crew. A flat-screen television was set up at the front of the room and two easels were nearby with bullet-pointed messages for the crew (e.g. stress the Bills' focus on the no-huddle).
Listening to Jaworski, Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico go through the script was impressive. You also gain a greater appreciation for the behind-the-scenes producers who make the broadcasts go off without a hitch.
"This is kind of the wrap-up meeting for all the work we've done, so we'll be ready to go at 7 o'clock tonight," Jaworski explained after the meeting broke. "All week I'll be at my office at NFL Films and Jon will be at his office in Tampa, and we'll be looking at tape of the upcoming teams, and talking to each other 4-5 times throughout our film study -- that will happen on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. So we're getting our game plan together throughout the week, and what I like to do is approach it like I'm a quarterback, when I played the game. I usually look at the last four games the team played."
From there, the schedule broke down this way ion preparing for tonight's game:
Friday. Travel day. Also had conference calls with Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and players.
Saturday. Production meeting with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium -- interviews with Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator Dean Pees, Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Adalius Thomas and Fred Taylor. Also attend practice. More tape is dissected.
Sunday. Morning meeting to discuss players who will be isolated during the broadcast from an X's and O's perspective. Later in the day, there is a production meeting with the Bills at their team hotel after their arrival in Providence -- interviews with Dick Jauron, Trent Edwards and other players.
Monday. Morning meetings start at 8 a.m. to recap and go over the plan. All elements of the broadcast are dissected, from graphics, to isolations, to SportsCenter hits.
"We just don't show up and say 'hey, we're on the set,'" Jawowski said. "We work seven days at it."
Mike Reiss first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. From 2005 to 2009, he covered the Patriots for The Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004. Send any questions or comments for Mike to his mailbag. Follow him on Twitter here.