Two things bring this country together above all else. The Super Bowl and a deep, abiding love for all things sports media. Join us as we embark on a broadcasting and posting night like none other on the calendar.
4:56 p.m.: NBC's pregame coverage has been going for hours but the savvy consumer has been hydrating and pacing their information intake. The first thing we're confronted with is NBC News' Steve Kornacki doing an in-depth breakdown of Super Bowl squares in front of a video board. His sleeves are rolled up because he means business. Does Kornacki ever not mean business? He comes on television for two reasons: to tell you if the next four years are going to be hell based on your political affiliation or if the Las Vegas Raiders are still alive in the playoff chase. He and CNN's John King have carved out a unique lane. Only a matter of time until we see a bunch of journalism majors want to be the next data person instead of the next Tony Romo.
5:01 p.m.: It appears that earlier today Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that ESPN would pursue Sean McVay for Monday Night Football if he were to walk away from the Rams after tonight's game. Is it possible that these high-profile jobs are a bit of a bubble? It seems that there's no shortage of great talent who would rather be on television than either coaching or playing quarterback. Why wouldn't networks use that leverage and pay less for services, especially as the actual impact of booth personnel on the actual viewership is specious?
5:08 p.m.: Man, Jac Collinsworth sounds just like his father. That's probably the point.
5:17 p.m.: Rodney Harrison just said that Aaron Donald told him there's a "strong possibility" he retires if the Rams win tonight. Collinsworth the younger suggests this may get Harrison trending. And for good reason. How did that bombshell remain unexploded until an hour until kickoff? Donald is 30 years-old and walking away would be a shocker. You can count on one hand how many times newsworthy information comes via these pregame vignettes. This certainly qualifies. Though it's odd such sound wasn't included in the package that aired. Seems like burying the lede.
5:33 p.m.: Mike Greenberg is fueling up for the big game like so many others, with a plate full of chicken wings. Unlike others, he's using a knife and a fork. Like his three-bite method for eating grapes, this is now canon and an vital information in painting the entire picture.
5:52 p.m.: The matchup and the intangibles have been dissected and poured over for hours and yet the broadcast is oddly silent about the most pressing storyline of the day. Will Cincinnati do this for Harambe?
5:59 p.m.: Halle Berry voices an introduction that explains why the Super Bowl is like the movies. Angling for a job writing for Colin Cowherd? Kickoff is a half-hour away and we've already hit the over on shots of the Hollywood sign.
6:07 p.m.: They just showed a promo for some upcoming Peacock content, including a Joe Exotic series debuting March 3. Would love to see a chart showing the expected interest in the topic when this project was greenlit versus what it is right now. Massive gulf.
6:13 p.m.: Player introductions end with a prolonged shot of Bengals long snapper Clark Harris in a serendipitous moment. Great to see an under-appreciated position get its due on the big stage.
6:28 p.m.: Michelle Tafoya repeats the Aaron Donald report. Massive late-breaking story line. Would be really curious to know when this comment was made and what went in to the decision to hold it for this moment.
6:39 p.m.: NBC's new scorebug is large and in charge. Credit for thinking less angular and going for a smoother look. No complaints, which in a world that hates any type of minute change is a victory.
6:46 pm.: The Bengals opt to go for it on fourth down at midfield and fail. No first- or second-guessing from either Al Michaels or Cris Collinsworth. Seems like a major, tone-setting decision that could have merited some discussion.
6:52 pm.: Odell Beckham reels in a perfect throw from Matt Stafford for the game's first score. Michaels sets the scene and twists the knife, saying the wide receiver was essentially shown the door by Cleveland. Probably a lot of Browns fans hate-watching this. Collinsworth jumps in to say that Stafford has carried the brunt of high expectations for this superteam, a smart comment that's been left unsaid far too often.
6:57 p.m.: Kelly Stafford celebration shot alert. Michaels makes good on misidentifying her on the Week 1 Sunday Night Football broadcast. This is what ethics in journalism looks like.
7:08 p.m.: After a ridiculous falling catch by Ja'Marr Chase, Collinsworth says that the Bengals wideout is one of the best finishers to ever play the position. Extremely high praise for any player, let alone a rookie.
7:21 p.m.: Stafford remains red-hot, this time finding a wide-open Cooper Kupp in the end zone. A botched hold makes things 13-3 and Cincinnati is in real trouble. Their only hope is to use the power of technology to decode Sean McVay's playsheet, which gets an up close and personal moment.
7:35 p.m.: Another shot of the Hollywood sign. Drink!
7:50 p.m.: Tremendous work by the broadcast to explain how the Bengals drew their first penalty of the game via a celebration by Vernon Hargreaves, who bounded off the sidelines in a hoodie and flip-flops. If this doesn't warrant a sponsorship with a beer company, than nothing does.
7:59 p.m.: Michaels to Collinsworth, trying to solicit his thoughts on the first half: "so what do you got, my man? Tell me, tell me, tell me." Tremendous urgency.