But NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football broadcast and production team was beyond prepared, even firing up highlights of Meyers as a dart-throwing high school quarterback in Georgia just a kickoff and a commercial break after his surprise pass with a little over a minute remaining in the first half.
The question showed up in my feed on Twitter almost as soon as the ball settled into Burkhead’s hands:
Meyers had zero career pass attempts. How did NBC have those high school quarterback highlights ready to go after the commercial break?
As it turned out, it wasn’t a case of Bill Belichick or Josh McDaniels tipping off broadcasters Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, and Michele Tafoya about some planned trickery.
Instead, as Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli explained in a message via NBC Sports spokesperson after the game, it came from familiarity with the Patriots and his production team’s weekly quest to be ready for anything.
“We knew Jakobi was a high school quarterback from when he was a rookie free agent last year and we had the Patriots in Week 1,” said Gaudelli, whose Sunday Night Football crew has broadcasted 36 regular-season Patriots games since 2006, as well as postseason matchups that include the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks and losses to the Giants and Eagles.
“This season, I read quotes from Cam Newton talking about how cerebral a wide receiver Jakobi was because he had previously played quarterback. We decided to get footage of his high school highlights in case he was called to throw a pass.
“In every Patriots game we do, someone other than a quarterback seems to throw a pass – Julian Edelman vs. the Ravens in the 2014 playoffs (Jan. 10, 2015), Edelman on the opening Sunday night last year, etc. We were covering our bases in the eventuality that it happened again.”
It did happen again, and the broadcast team was so ready that play-by-play voice Al Michaels mentioned Meyers was a high school quarterback before the ball settled into Burkhead’s hands.
After the extra point attempt and a commercial break, Michaels introduced the highlights of Meyers’s quarterbacking days at Arabia Mountain High School in Georgia, featuring footage of him lofting two impressive deep completions and another lasered throw for a touchdown.
Pretty impressive stuff on the preparation that goes into being ready for just about anything.
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