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Rex's ESPN tryout one of many reasons to watch Super Bowl Sunday

Rex Ryan has changed my game plan on Super Bowl Sunday.

I usually ignore the hours and hours of pregame shows on The NFL Network (starts at 9 a.m.), Fox (starts at 11 a.m.) and ESPN (starts at 11 a.m.) because there is next to nothing new to say about the game between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons by Sunday.

But now that the former Buffalo Bills coach is a guest analyst Sunday on ESPN, I’ll have to tune in to say if he says anything outrageous during the periodic times he is on the cable sports network from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

During an interview with a New York newspaper this week, Ryan showed he isn’t a typical coach who bites his tongue. That most likely won’t help him find another coaching job, but makes him ideal for sports television.

He certainly proved himself to be smart enough to pick a supportive New York sportswriter to vent about the Bills since the writer didn’t exactly try to balance the article by explaining all the reasons that Ryan might have deserved to be fired.

The best-case scenario Sunday is that Ryan will say something outrageous about New England Coach Bill Belichick or quarterback Tom Brady.

The worst-case scenario is he pulls a Belichick and just gives out coach speak.

Ryan’s TV tryout is one of the more interesting things about Sunday’s coverage of the highest-rated television program of the year: The game.

Here are some more interesting notes about the coverage and the audience learned from an interview with the Fox Sports president in California, a Fox media guide for the game and from an ESPN release.

The game is bulletproof.

That’s what Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said in a recent interview with television critics in Pasadena, Calif.

He noted that the last Super Bowl that Fox carried was Seattle’s 43-8 blowout over Denver in 2014 in the Meadowlands and he dreaded learning the rating the next morning.

“We set a record with that Super Bowl, and it was not close at all,” said Shank. “So I think that, depending on the star power going in and a lot of the things surrounding the game, the Super Bowl has become a little bit, you know, bulletproof as far as that day goes and that game goes.”

As usual, Fox has an innovation planned.

“We’ve lined up some great innovations through FOX Sports Lab,” said Shanks. “For the first time ever, we are going to be able to, inside the game, take fans inside the helmet of any player on the field and show their perspective in real time of what’s happening on either side of the ball.”

The size of the female audience may surprise you.

The audience for the game is 53 percent male and 47 percent female. That’s a much smaller gender gap than the regular season when the audience is 64 percent male and 36 percent female.

Gronk showcases a new career.

One of the commercials being teased online for Tide has injured New England tight end Rob Gronkowski working at a dry cleaner and delivering some ruined clothing to actor Jeffrey Tambor. It looks like a hoot.

There is an ad controversy.

Budweiser has gotten a lot of pregame mileage out of its excellent ad featuring the immigrant stories of its founders. The timeliness of the ad a week after President Trump’s controversial executive order about refugees is obvious and has sparked cries that a political statement is being made. The founders in the ad are told “you’re not welcome here, go back home.” But Super Bowl ads are planned, developed and shot long ago and the company has said there were no political motivations behind it.

There will be plenty of Tom Brady to hate.

Brady is involved in a Super Bowl commercial as well. In the teaser for an ad for Intel, he is shown getting up out of bed, eating pancakes and brushing his teeth.

ESPN also is doing a feature piece, “Brady and The Beav,’” that may do the impossible – improve his image with Bills fans. It airs around 12:25 p.m. Here is ESPN’s summary:

Tom Brady has achieved legendary status on the NFL gridiron and celebrity status off it. Despite all the fame, the Patriots quarterback has never lost touch with his roots and the people who stood by him from the beginning, including Jay Flannelly – “the Beav” as he’s known around Ann Arbor, Mich. Since “The Beav” first met Brady at the University of Michigan in 1995 while serving as a student assistant coach, he has worked numerous jobs, most famously as a dishwasher and self-appointed scout for the legendary quarterback. Few people know just how big an impact the four-time Super Bowl champion has had on “The Beav’s” life, reports Jade McCarthy. 

The rating to beat.

San Francisco’s 26-21 victory over Cincinnati in 1982 is the highest-rated Super Bowl with a 49.1. New England’s victory over Seattle in 2015 is the most-watched with 114.4 million viewers. Confused? A rating point is worth more viewers every year because the population of America increases.

Bills Super Bowls rated well.

The highest-rated of the Bills four losses was a 45.5 for the 30-13 loss to Dallas in 1994. The 52-17 loss to Dallas a year earlier had a 45.1 rating.

91 percent of consumers look forward to watching the commercials.

The other 9 percent apparently heard that Brady is in one of the ads.


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