SDUT: San Diego fans wanted to help in MNF telecast

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

Are you ready for your close-up, San Diego?

ABC's "Monday Night Football" is coming to Qualcomm Stadium for the first time since 1996, and the network is looking for a few good men and women to star in the opening of the telecast.

Actually, about 68,000 of them.

Producer Fred Gaudelli is planning a live opening segment to the 6 p.m. show – "Operation Monday Night Football" – with each fan given an as yet unknown "prop" that will allow them to participate.

"It's a cool sequence," Gaudelli said yesterday. He explained the opening will have a large military presence including the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. Helicopters, flags, music and pyrotechnics also will be involved, and then a "surprise guest" will come on the field and yell, "Are you ready for some football?"

It's the second time ABC has tried such an opening; the first was Sept. 26 in Denver, where Gaudelli said, "It didn't work exactly the way we hoped. The fans didn't get into their seats soon enough."

Gaudelli has higher hopes for San Diego, even with rush-hour traffic posing a potential problem. He said he's produced many games in San Diego and "the place is always rocking. I think the setting will be great."

In fact, Gaudelli and play-by-play announcer Al Michaels each mentioned in separate phone interviews yesterday that Qualcomm is an "underrated" venue.

"At the playoff game (in January), I have not heard a stadium like that in a long time," Gaudelli said.

Added Michaels: "That place rocks. When I'm in there on Monday nights, if the game is good, it's about as loud as any place in the league. People think it's laid-back ... but fans there can be as passionate as fans anywhere."

Before the Chargers-Jets game nine months ago, Michaels & Co. – who will be coming to Qualcomm for the last time as a crew, since ABC is losing "MNF" after this season – were supposed to be here two Octobers ago. But that game was moved to Arizona because of the Cedar Fire.

It also rained during the January game, so Monday's predicted pleasant weather should be a welcome change, especially with the telecast beginning just 20 minutes before sunset.

Many of the storylines will be familiar to Chargers fans, although Gaudelli is promising some fresh material on LaDainian Tomlinson, including a look back at the Texas roots of the Chargers star running back and quarterback Drew Brees.

"To me, Tomlinson seems like now he's starting to get the credit he deserves after having four stellar years," Gaudelli said.

Said Michaels: "Some people haven't really seen him. They might hear maybe this guy's the best back in the league and say, 'I want to take a look at this guy.' There's a great curiosity factor with him right now."

This is also Ben Roethlisberger's first Monday night game, so the Steelers quarterback will be a big part of the show. And there's also the relationship between coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Cowher.

"I think people are excited about this one," Michaels said.

There's another reason Michaels likes coming here: This is the last "MNF" game this season west of Green Bay, and he can drive here.

"No tarmacs for me this week," Michaels said.

Flipping channels
Aztecs-UNLV is live on Channel 4 San Diego at noon tomorrow with Trey Bender and Kelly Stouffer. With the Padres playing late, XPRS-AM (1090) also can carry the game, with Alan Horton and John Kentera. Next week's game at Utah has been picked up by ABC and will be on at 4 p.m.

Because ABC is carrying golf's American Express Championship (1:30 p.m. tomorrow, 10:30 a.m. Sunday), it has only one college football game tomorrow, Oklahoma-Texas at 10 a.m. Still, there's no shortage of TV games, including a TBS doubleheader that features four undefeated teams – Texas Tech-Nebraska at 1 p.m. and Cal-UCLA at 4:30 – plus Georgia-Tennessee (12:30, CBS), Arizona-USC (12:30, FSN) and Ohio State-Penn State (4:45, ESPN), among others.

Caught a couple of minutes of OLN's first hockey telecast Wednesday night – judging from the 0.0 local rating, I might have been the only one – and it looked as if the action was being shot at a tighter angle than previously on ESPN and currently on FSN. It was a bit disconcerting; you felt a little closer to the action, but it was harder to get a feel for what was happening elsewhere on the ice. And which genius decided not to feature Sidney Crosby's first game with Pittsburgh, anyway? By the way, the game was seen in 77 percent fewer households than the 2003 season opener on ESPN.

ESPN has promoted John Skipper to executive vice president of content, meaning he takes over the ESPN and ABC Sports programming responsibilities previously held by Mark Shapiro. Skipper, who joined ESPN in 1997 and oversaw the launch of ESPN The Magazine, was in charge of ad sales and ESPN Enterprises.

ESPN Deportes Radio launched this week with a San Diego affiliate – XESD-AM (1030); starting next week, all baseball postseason games will be on the network.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King was in Foxboro last week and came away impressed with the visitors.

"The San Diego Chargers to me right now are the second-best team in football, right behind Indianapolis," he said in "King's Corner Video" on