Behind The ScenesNFL

ESPN provides blanket NFL Annual Meeting coverage

The NFL Annual Meeting begins today in Phoenix, Arizona. This gathering of NFL owners, general managers, coaches and other league execs is the most relaxed event on the annual pro football calendar, but it’s also the time when much of the league’s business takes place in planned sessions – and behind the scenes.

Without the pressures of a season or an upcoming game, there is access to owners and coaches in a more relaxed atmosphere. This year’s Super Bowl Media Day was the second time I saw [New England Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick in sandals – the owners meetings was the first. – Mike Cambareri

ESPN will be on-site through Wednesday with live shows of NFL Insiders (3 p.m. ET) and NFL Live (3:30 p.m., new time starting today) and reports throughout each day on SportsCenter (11 a.m. and 1 p.m. editions). In addition to having Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Bill Polian, Ed Werder and many others on-site, ESPN.com will also have NFL writers John Clayton, Kevin Seifert and a collection of NFL Nation reporters covering the proceedings.

Coordinating producer Mike Cambareri, who has covered more than 10 of these NFL Annual Meetings, spoke with Front Row about ESPN’s plans.

What’s new or different this year, in terms of ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Annual Meeting?
This year will be ESPN’s most aggressive coverage of the owners meetings ever. Both NFL Insiders and NFL Live will be live from Phoenix, with Suzy Kolber and Trey Wingo hosting those respective shows. Sal Paolantonio and our insiders/analysts will be contributing segments for SportsCenter and our crew will also provide live coverage of the AFC and NFC coaches’ breakfasts. More than 70 people from production, operations and ESPN.com will be representing ESPN in Phoenix.

Coordinating producer Mike Cambareri (r) with NFL analyst Chris Mortensen at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.  (Jess Kraus/ESPN)
Coordinating producer Mike Cambareri (r) with NFL analyst Chris Mortensen at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. (Jess Kraus/ESPN)

Where will ESPN be set up?
We’ll have a full-set presence at an outdoor location close to the convention rooms where the league’s various meetings and subcommittee meetings are taking place. This advantageous location will help us secure interviews for NFL Live, NFL Insiders and SportsCenter. Producers Todd Snyder and Matthew Garrett and director Brian Albon will be in our production truck, working closely with folks in Bristol to provide constant coverage.

What interviews do you already have planned?
Guests currently booked include Buccaneers GM Jason Licht (owner of No. 1 overall pick in NFL Draft), Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak and new Bills head coach Rex Ryan. In addition, reporter Jim Trotter and coordinating producer Greg Jewell will be sitting with select head coaches and GMs for interviews related to newsgathering, for vignette elements tied to the NFL Draft, and even getting ahead on some project features for Sunday NFL Countdown.

For fans who don’t know, what happens at these meetings?
There is a business element, where all NFL owners, head coaches and GMs congregate to meet on state-of-the-league matters and vote on proposed rule changes from both the Competition Committee and individual teams. Many of this year’s proposals seem to focus on expansion of instant replay and what plays should be ruled reviewable.

It is also a much more casual environment – not only from an attire standpoint (Andy Reid is a fan of Hawaiian shirts), but also from an interaction standpoint. Without the pressures of a season or an upcoming game, there is access to owners and coaches in a more relaxed atmosphere. This year’s Super Bowl Media Day was the second time I saw [New England Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick in sandals – the owners meetings was the first.

Do you have a good story from a past meeting?
There is no clock for when news breaks at the owners meetings. Times for press conferences are always loose and we are always working on estimates for when a key vote will be completed. At the 2010 meetings in Orlando, the current overtime system was voted in by owners on a Tuesday, earlier than expected by the media. It was also earlier than expected for the head coaches, most of whom were on the golf course while the vote took place.

Editor’s Note: For a full schedule of NFL Insiders and NFL Live shows from the NFL Annual Meeting, visit ESPN Media Zone

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