HOUSTON – ESPN producers Matthew Garrett and Chad Minutillo, who began overseeing Sunday NFL Countdown in 2016, were charged with re-imagining the company’s signature NFL program with a completely new cast of analysts this season.
Garrett and Minutillo introduced a different approach to presenting features and added a variety of new elements to the show, including creative segments designed to be more fun. They also encouraged the analysts to be storytellers who give viewers a peek behind the NFL curtain.
The co-producers spoke to Front Row ahead of Sunday’s three-hour Super Bowl LI edition of Postseason NFL Countdown (11 a.m.- 2 p.m. ET, ESPN) – the final show of the season.
– Producer Chad Minutillo on Sunday NFL Countdown’s goal
What are you most proud of with Sunday NFL Countdown this season?
Minutillo: The innovation and progression since the beginning of the season – the show has gotten better every week. Our mission statement when we started was to “give viewers access to something they can’t buy tickets to.” Every week, the show became more unpredictable, and viewers never knew what might come next – whether it was the contract-incentive game show “Straight Cash Homie,” NFL Dodgeball training, or an edition of “Sunday School” to teach the viewer an intricacy of the league. We are constantly trying to keep the show impulsive.
What should viewers expect from the Super Bowl LI show?
Garrett: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and former Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan will join our usual Countdown team. Having Odell and Rex on the show allows for another unique opportunity to take our viewers behind the curtain of today’s NFL, such as Rex telling our viewers how he game-plans for [New England Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick, or Odell’s take on [Atlanta Falcons receiver] Julio Jones. Combining their perspectives on the game with Randy’s first-hand knowledge of preparing and playing in a Super Bowl with [Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and our stable of Super Bowl champions – [ESPN NFL analysts] Trent Dilfer, Charles Woodson and Steve Young – I expect our viewers to be incredibly entertained and informed throughout the three-hour show.
– Producer Matthew Garrett on his Sunday Countdown colleagues
Just for good measure, we are sending [analyst] Matt Hasselbeck up for a flight with the Thunderbirds who will be performing the flyover [of NRG Stadium] on Sunday night. We will also honor Chris Berman as he hosts Sunday NFL Countdown – the show that he built – for the final time.
What should fans know about the team that puts on Sunday NFL Countdown each week?
Garrett: While it is our on-air team that viewers welcome into their homes every Sunday, the work behind the scenes by our entire staff has been inspiring leading into the Super Bowl LI show, just as it has been all season. Their dedication to serving our fans through creative storylines and the amount of time and energy they put in is incomparable. Many don’t know their names or faces, but they are the engine that drives Sunday NFL Countdown every week.