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Still truckin’: Eleven years later, Carter returns to Mexico for another historic ESPN NFL telecast

Steve Carter worked on the 2005 ESPN NFL regular-season telecast from Mexico City and he'll be part of the 2016 production. (Emily Pfeffer/ESPN)
Steve Carter worked on the 2005 ESPN NFL regular-season telecast from Mexico City and he’ll be part of the 2016 production. (Emily Pfeffer/ESPN)

ESPN’s Monday Night Football game on Nov. 21 will be the first in the 47-year history of the series to be played outside the United States.

Week 11’s finale featuring the Houston Texans versus the Oakland Raiders (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Mexico City also marks about 11 years since the first-ever NFL regular-season game was played outside the U.S. – a Sunday night game also televised by ESPN.

Steve Carter was in Azteca Stadium in 2005. ESPN’s senior operations manager on the remote productions team will be there again Monday.

Carter was a big part of the 2005 production crew at the Arizona Cardinals versus San Francisco 49ers game. Front Row caught up with Carter at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., last week before the Cincinnati Bengals-New York Giants game to ask him to talk about preparations for this telecast.

How is your team handling a trip of this caliber and length?
We’ve made three trips to Mexico City starting last March, then June and August in preparation. We’ve had several meetings with the NFL. Today, I’ve spent just about my entire day creating a detailed itemized list of every piece of equipment on all the trucks going to Mexico which includes serial numbers, a description of each piece of equipment, even value, country of origin. Things of that sort – so it’s a huge document.

And then we’re working with our customs broker who is facilitating moving the trucks from here down to Laredo, Texas, and then once we hit Laredo we’re going to pull into a warehouse. The tractors will get swapped out and we’ll have escorts in groups of three vehicles. There will be three trucks for every two escorts and they’ll go through customs and hopefully that’ll go pretty quickly. Then on to Mexico City.

So it’s 44 hours from MetLife Stadium to Laredo and then another 28 hours from Laredo to Mexico City. So the hope is that the trucks will arrive sometime late Friday, early Saturday.

Is the same equipment used to cover the game in Mexico City as in the U.S.?
We are taking the MNF trucks so, in essence, it’s the same show. But we are adding some enhancements. We’re adding handheld devices called TVU which allows us to transmit over multiple cellular channels so we can use cellular technology to get the signals back to the trucks. We’re trying to show the inside and outside of the stadium and the flavor of the area and things that are going on. For all intents and purposes, it’s the same MNF show you’d see in the states.

Are there challenges covering a football game in Azteca Stadium, a facility built for soccer?
It’s not really different because a soccer field is bigger than a football field, but there’s no cable in the stadium, so we worked with Televisa who owns the stadium. We’re working with the NFL’s vendors, our ESPN Mexico production facility who have been such a phenomenal help to us. They’re helping us in lots of areas like getting cables installed for us, so are NFL vendors that work to run the NFL Draft and other big events like the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl. In that regard, it’s not as difficult as you would think.

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