Behind the Scenes with FOX’s NFL crew: Malice in Dallas

Behind the Scenes with FOX's NFL crew: Malice in Dallas

By Richie Zyontz
FOX NFL Lead Producer

Editor’s Notice: Richie Zyontz has been an NFL producer for FOX since 1994 and the lead producer for the final 20 seasons. He has greater than 40 years of expertise overlaying the league and has produced six Tremendous Bowls. All through the 2022 NFL season, he’ll present an inside look as FOX’s new No. 1 NFL group makes its journey towards Tremendous Bowl LVII.

One other vacation, one other working weekend away from house. Thank goodness for understanding households. However that is the occupational hazard of sports activities tv. As Hyman Roth mentioned to Michael Corleone in Godfather II, ‘’that is the enterprise we have chosen.”

So with Christmas upon us, our FOX group added to their frequent-flier accounts and converged on Dallas from 23 totally different states to assist cowl the NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cowboys.

Malice in Dallas

There’s nothing like the joy of a serious sporting occasion.  The hype, the trash discuss and the playing all ramp up a number of notches. The air is electrical with anticipation. 

And no, I am not referring to that sidebar contest between the Eagles and Cowboys.

It was the tennis grudge match between Greg Olsen and director Wealthy Russo that captured our crew’s consideration — an occasion now eternally referred to as The Malice in Dallas.

Competitors can flip associates into foes, and judging by the pre-match temper, Olsen and Russo had been heading in that route.

Two cameras had been available and a stay stream was arrange for a choose few with an excessive amount of time on their arms. Our complete crew turned out in help. Kevin Burkhardt and affiliate producer /self-invited visitor analyst Wealthy Gross known as the motion, Erin Andrews interviewed the athletes and Mike Pereira served because the umpire.

Amongst all of the tennis matches I’ve witnessed, which is none, this one stood out for the top quality of play. Russo began sturdy, exhibiting good kind and a gentle forehand, and jumped out to a three-games-to-one lead within the first set. 

However then Olsen’s court docket protection, lengthy attain and mixture of energy and finesse proved too tough to beat. 

The consequence was the previous Professional Bowl tight finish successful in straight units , 6-4, 6-1.

Malice in Dallas

FOX Sports activities NFL analyst Greg Olsen and director Wealthy Russo performed a hotly contested sport of tennis earlier than the Christmas Eve Cowboys-Eagles matchup.

No matter sick will existed previous to the match dissolved into mutual respect after, and the great fellowship on the A-Crew reached new heights.

A brand new chapter to an previous rivalry

Rivalry video games are satisfying to cowl as a result of they’re so wealthy in historical past. The Cowboys and Eagles have supplied many lasting reminiscences. 

Within the broadcast, we added a couple of manufacturing components honoring each groups’ legacies.  My favourite was a cleverly edited piece with audio from former Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson tearing into Eagles coach Buddy Ryan after a very heated sport in 1989 — eternally to be referred to as The Bounty Bowl.

These groups did not like one another then, and that mutual hostility hasn’t modified a bit.

Each sport has its personal distinctive rhythm. It is our job as producers and administrators to react and regulate to that rhythm. Generally the sport crawls together with a number of stoppages and penalty flags. And generally the sport merely does not allow you to breathe as a result of the ball is transferring up and down the sphere with one massive play after one other. That is how this one felt me. 

It was a Christmas Eve basic with Dallas prevailing 40-34. 

After many weeks of non-competitive video games, our crew has lined two beauties in a row. There’s nothing just like the drama of a significant late-season NFL sport. Director Wealthy Russo, bouncing again properly from his defeat on the tennis court docket a day earlier, deftly captured the emotion on each side.

Considered one of our crew members did not have far to go to attend this sport. His title is Michael Brandt, however we name him Mookie. This Dallas native has been a terrific replay operator with us for 25 years and he is bought fairly a household story to inform.

Eyewitness to historical past

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. It was a horrible occasion that modified the course of historical past. The nation reacted and mourned from a distance. As a primary grader at P.S. 40 in New York Metropolis, I used to be confused as to why we had been being despatched house so early. The tragedy made Dallas the middle of the universe for the fallacious causes.

Whereas many people watched Walter Cronkite on CBS Information chronicle the occasion, Mookie’s dad Ernest wasn’t close to a tv. He was there.

Ernest Brandt was one among 1000’s of onlookers gathered to greet the presidential motorcade on that fateful November day. He staked out a great spot simply exterior the Dallas E book Depository in Dealey Plaza.

He heard three pictures. The primary, he mentioned, gave the impression of a bike backfiring. The second made it clear there was a shooter. After the third shot, eyewitnesses had been clearly pointing to a sixth-floor window within the E book Depository because the doubtless supply of the gunfire. A person named Abraham Zapruder was positioned on an increase behind Mr. Brandt together with his Bell-Howell film digital camera. One onlooker clearly seen in his black fedora standing toes away from the motorcade is Ernest Brandt.

Mookie’s dad is on the Zapruder movie earlier than, throughout and after President Kennedy is shot.

For a few years thereafter, Brandt has served as an unofficial historian of the assassination, sharing his reminiscences with vacationers in Dealey Plaza up till his dying in 2017 at age 91.

No matter and wherever we’re assigned to cowl subsequent week, will probably be onerous to high the sport we witnessed at this time. The Cowboys and Eagles gave us an unimaginable matchup; as David Helman wrote after the sport, that is one we should always all hope we get to see within the playoffs. Relaxation assured that if it does occur, the FOX Sports activities A-Crew will probably be there to cowl it.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

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