Mike Pereira Gets Super Bowl Stage as FOX's Newest Innovation
But, for FOX, Sunday's biggest and best new addition isn't a machine, but a person -- namely rules analyst Mike Pereira, whose presence on the network's football telecasts is just as significant as the constant score and clock and the heightened sound, to hear FOX personnel tell it..
"I gotta be honest," said FOX Sports President Eric Shanks. "When I watch other guys do football, whether it's college or pro, I just don't know how you do a game without Mike. We're sitting there filling for three minutes sometimes when a guy is under the hood (on replay review) and we're just thinking, 'How do other people do this now?' I can't even imagine."
Pereira's first year as FOX's go-to guy for rules interpretations has been a smashing success. Right out of the box in week one of the regular season, he correctly and succinctly nailed an explanation of why a supposed touchdown catch by Detroit's Calvin Johnson wasn't in a game against Chicago.
"I thought it really set the stage for the role because it, in this case, took the heat off the officials and people thinking the officials were wrong," said Pereira. "It put the heat on the rule and people not liking the rule. That's really what I wanted to do. I wanted to get people to where they would not only understand the rule itself but the interpretation of the rule.
"As it went on, and I got more involved with replays and some interesting situations that came up, I really felt good about what I was able to do both from Los Angeles and from being in the booth."
Shanks says that moment confirmed the wisdom of hiring Pereira, the former vice president of NFL officiating, and giving him a role on a variety of platforms, including popping in on FOX broadcasts during challenges.
"When we were in the control room, after Mike got done explaining to everyone why it wouldn't be a touchdown before the official came out and then he was right -- thank God he was right, because if not it would have been disaster -- we were all high-fiving each other, going 'holy crap.' This is a completely new category of analysis in presenting football."
Indeed, just as other networks were forced, perhaps kicking and screaming, to include the constant score and clock onscreen in their presentations after FOX introduced it in 1994, it's not so far-fetched to think that an ex-referee or umpire will be a part of national broadcasts going forward because of the success that the network has had with Pereira.
Pereira will be in the booth Sunday with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, ready at a moment's notice to dissect any challenges or tough officials' calls. He has already made his presence felt during the playoffs, when, in the NFC Championship Game, he was able to explain to Buck a rule about fumbles in the last two minutes of a half or a game.
"All of a sudden, I feel Mike's hands on my shoulders as I'm starting in and he whispered in my ear," said Buck. "And that was A, so helpful, because I probably would have not said it the right way. And B, it becomes something where it's a dead issue after that. You don't go off the air hoping you got something right. It's cleaned up and tidied up before you say goodnight. That's all you can hope for and Troy and I are thankful that he's going to be there Sunday."