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Chris Hogan family, 'This Is Us' interviews among Super Bowl pregame highlights

Here are several of the top things I learned from listening to two NBC Sports conference calls and reading some releases about coverage of Sunday's Super Bowl in Minneapolis between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles:

The Hogan family: New England wide receiver Chris Hogan arguably is one of the more popular players with Buffalo ties in Sunday's Super Bowl, partly because he left when the Bills low-ball offer allowed the Pats to grab him with a better offer. No one can blame him for that.

I suspect Bills fans will be interested in a NBC pregame feature on Hogan and his family.

Here is how NBC describes it: "The life of a professional athlete often results in extended time away from home and family, and Patriots WR Chris Hogan's situation is no different. During the season, Hogan lives in Massachusetts, while his wife Ashley lives in Long Island with their twin toddlers as she completes her residency in podiatry. Chris and Ashley discuss how they find balance in their busy personal and professional lives."

Harrison has high expectations: NBC studio analyst Rodney Harrison, a former New England defensive back, apparently discovered Pats defensive back Stephon Gilmore, an ex-Bill, isn't much of a talker. Harrison said he had a conversation with Gilmore and another member of the Pats secondary, Devin McCourty. Bills fans shouldn't be surprised about which player he talked the most about.

"I got an opportunity to get on the field with Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty, and just to hear Devin McCourty talk – I had one mindset about Devin McCourty and then just spending some time with him, he totally changed my mind," said Harrison.

"Just a tremendous, articulate guy. Stephon Gilmore, really laid back. Also had a chance to talk to Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola, two guys that just made me want to suit up, guys that just bring so much intensity, and just being around the Patriots’ organization, they were very excited about winning the championship game.

"But the day after it was just businesslike. It was like they belonged there. They’re not taking Philadelphia for granted. They have a lot of respect for them, and I love the fact that Philadelphia is not bowing down to the Patriots. I think it’s going to be a high-scoring event. I think it’s going to be one of the best Super Bowls, if not the best Super Bowl ever."

Harrison is doing a pregame piece on Amendola. It is unclear if his talk with McCourty and Gilmore also will be part of another feature. NBC didn't list it as one.

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NBC takes you to a garage sale: NBC sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya and pregame co-host Liam McHugh have Minnesota connections. Tafoya lives there with her family. McHugh's in-laws live there.

Tafoya has a natural pregame piece with former Hall of Fame Minnesota Vikings Coach Bud Grant. He was the Vikings coach for almost two decades.

According to NBC, the piece "shows how he’s still a big part of the community with his annual garage sale ... and how he took on the bitter cold weather with no sleeves during the Vikings Divisional Playoff game against Seattle a few years ago."

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Brady opens up: NBC pregame host Dan Patrick said New England legend Brady opened up in an interview that will air in the final hour of the six-hour pregame show.

"I sat down with Tom Brady on Monday, got a chance to spend 30 minutes with him talking about a variety of things, from his summers spent here in Minnesota, to his mother’s health, to his legacy, to his relationship with Belichick, a variety of things that came out that I was proud of what we were able to do, and his willingness to open up."

Patrick is unlikely to pull a Grant: The plan is for Patrick to be suitably dressed as he does some of the pregame show outside in Minneapolis, where it is supposed to be brutally cold. (The game is in a dome).

Patrick recalled being in Minnesota when it hosted the 1992 Super Bowl in which Washington beat the Buffalo Bills, 37-24 when he worked for ESPN. I remember the game well. I was there. The game was in a dome. But I'm still shivering from being outside during the week.

"I went ice fishing with (Washington kicker) Chip Lohmiller, and it gave me a good sense of what this weather is like," said Patrick. "We caught walleye. We cooked it right there on the lake. He gave me a perspective from a Minnesotan of what this is like and what this means. So to be able to come back, I know how they fully embraced it before, and hopefully we do it justice.

"Nobody wants to hear the media complain about the cold, but the cold is an element of just the surroundings, the feeling, who these people are. But when you get in that building, everybody is going to be warm, and those watching are going to be warm."

By night's end, tears are guaranteed: During the pregame show, Kathryn Tappen will speak with cast members from the hit NBC prime time show "This Is Us," which will air a much-anticipated episode after the post-game show.

NBC is advising people planning to DVR the episode to give extra time because the game could go long. There is a great chance there will be more tears in Buffalo after "This Is Us" ends than there will be if the Patriots win again.

Alan Pergament: It's so easy for families to relate to 'This Is Us'

Email: apergament@buffnews.com

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