ATLANTA — “So, how do you guys cover the Super Bowl”?
That’s perhaps the biggest question the editors in the Globe sports department receive, on a semi-annual basis it seems, from friends, readers, and our national colleagues. The Patriots’ unrivaled success this century has given us myriad opportunities to formulate a “game plan” that provides two-plus weeks of comprehensive coverage leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.
Our plan gets devised initially weeks before the Patriots even play in the AFC Championship game (history dictates odds are pretty good your effort won’t go for naught). That means deciding how to deploy your staff, and coming up with engaging daily stories, smart commentary and bigger enterprise pieces — all without duplicating storylines you might have covered the year before. Or the year before that. You get the idea.
Once the Patriots take care of business and the NFC champion is crowned, a day-to-day plan for print and Globe.com is laid out, including an expanded outline for a special preview section on Sunday of game day. Our Globe team (11 writers, three photographers and a videographer this year) begins to arrive the previous Sunday in advance of media night Monday night.
I’m the coordinator who strives to ensure that the Globe team can deliver on the plan each day. Are we able to do the reporting we need for a story on a particular day? Would a story be better if we talked to (fill in the blank) who is available at the end of the week? How do we want to cover commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference? Who’s available to do a national or local interview? There invariably will be a breaking news story or something of interest that will develop and cause a shift in the plan and set back a writer who would have been working on another story. Sticking with the football analogy, that’s where our halftime/midweek adjustments are made; reassembling the moving pieces. You know what they say about the best-laid plans . . .
That brings us to Super Bowl Sunday, and with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff, a new plan for storylines and coverage will be enacted around 10:15; barring overtime, of course (a worst-case scenario for journalists on deadline). As Patriots fans know, these games tend to come down to the wire, and given time constraints, an outline for each writer and columnist has to be developed quickly. Or changed on the fly (see: Falcons, 28-3, midway through the third quarter). But that’s what make this such a special event to cover with your colleagues and creates memories you won’t forget.