Television Review: NFL Full Contact, "NFL Kickoff"
by Paul Schultz
Published: February 8, 2010
The New Orleans Saints have completed their dream season by defeating the Indianapolis Colts and their MVP quarterback Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLIV (that would be 44 for you non-Romans). It's 73 days until the draft. What's a football fanatic to do? Winter Olympics? Meh. The cable network formerly known as Court TV thinks it has the answer. truTV and NFL Films present NFL Full Contact, a six-part hour-long weekly series that goes behind-the-scenes to expose the chaos that ensues before you ever see a team snap the ball on the field.
The first episode, cleverly debuting the day after the Super Bowl, follows the events of Kickoff 2009 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game at Heinz Field is almost secondary to the extravaganza unfolding beforehand. There's a huge concert setup across the three rivers at Point State Park. Dan Parise is the Concert Manager and he frets over crowd control and breaches in security as a Tim McGraw impersonator wanders around restricted areas. Speaking of security, Sean Oates is a towering presence who manages an on-camera threat of bodily harm. "Do not hop over that wall," he barks to some wayward fans as he points to another staffer, "because he'll shoot you."
Armed with binoculars, Frank Supovitz observes everything with relative calm from his perch in a crow’s nest high above the concert. He oversees all NFL events and is responsible for coordinating the transition from the pre-game concert experience to the football game itself. Bardia Shah-Rais is TV Producer and deals with sounds issues with announcer Rich Eisen during a pre-game telecast, and gently confronts security when they won't allow Rod Woodson to pass because he don't have the proper credentials. No matter that Woodson is to be presented with his Hall of Fame ring during the halftime presentation.
Bob Angelo is the crusty old veteran cameraman who has been capturing sideline images of football action for over three decades. "Get out of here!" a coach yells when Bob sticks his camera in to a sideline team gathering. "I have orders from above," he evenly replies. "God?" comes the irritated response. Finally, Gary Natoli is the Stage Manager who deals with the concert itself. This includes, but is not limited to, rounding up a bunch of footballs for Tim McGraw to throw from the stage while he sings, to solving the crises of an open-air dressing area for Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas with a crane camera operator directly positioned above.
Clash of the Titans. Bob Angelo gets his camera as
close to the action as possible to get "the shot."
It's all typical concert event issues, but for the person who has never been employed as staff for such a venture there are some interesting tidbits. For example, their use of golf carts to pace the people entering the gates into the concert area to avoid a stampede was an absorbing lesson in crowd control. Certainly a scary moment is a glassy-eyed mother who has lost her eight-year-old daughter. When she's found, the youngster doesn't seem all that happy to be reunited with her worried parent. There are some humorous moments, too, like when a cop fist-bumps a severely intoxicated gent sitting on the ground with his head between his knees to make sure he's alright.
Naturally, in such a high-stress environment, plenty of profanity ensues although it's all bleeped out for your edification. While it was all engaging enough, I can't imagine how much different it will be in upcoming episodes except for logistics and location. NFL Full Contact might surprise, however. Repeated watchings will be practically nil, but for a gander at what all those faceless people do to make your football viewing as smooth an experience as possible, it's worth a look.
The next episode delves into the grand opening of the brand new state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium, while future installments cover the London game, the Pro Bowl, the Super Bowl, and the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. truTV ran a clever/creepy Super Bowl ad with Troy "Punxsutawney" Polamalu to give exposure to this series. NFL Full Contact premieres Monday, Feb. 8th, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on truTV.