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Inside the beats: NFL Nation reporters on SBLII coverage

ESPN.com's Reiss, McManus reflect on Opening Night stories, teamwork, more

NFL Nation reporters Mike Reiss (L) and Tim McManus (Bill Hofheimer/ESPN)

MINNEAPOLIS – NFL Nation reporters Mike Reiss, who covers the New England Patriots, and Tim McManus, who pounds the Philadelphia Eagles beat, contribute to ESPN’s comprehensive coverage of Super Bowl LII.

Reiss is covering his seventh Super Bowl, McManus his first. Each answered a few questions for Front Row.

How much have you two collaborated in the midst of the two-week buildup to SB LII?
Reiss: Things were moving so fast after the conference championship games, believe it or not, we had not spoken until arriving in Minneapolis. It’s sort of a tidal wave that hits. But I still feel connected because we both collaborate on a daily basis with [ESPN.com deputy editor] Heather Burns, and she is our quarterback. I have a printout of a full week of plans that we had for last week and for this final stretch leading into Super Bowl LII. We both know that we are there for each other if needed.

McManus: It gets pretty hectic, and we’ve both been busy focusing on our respective beats. I’m going to be leaning on Mike a ton from here on out, though. He’s a seasoned vet when it comes to this whole Super Bowl deal and is a reporter whom I’ve long admired.

How do you approach covering Super Bowl Opening Night?
Reiss: The best part about Super Bowl Opening Night is that we had a great team of reporters there, so it doesn’t fall on just one person. But Monday night, one thing that stood out was [Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady’s interaction with the PaniniAmerica Kids Reporter, who was with Trent Dilfer. That was most notable. Brady was asked who is the most inspiring woman in his life [see Reiss’ tweet below].

McManus: Like Mike said, we have lots of reporters here, including the richly talented [and Minnesota-based ESPN NFL reporters] Courtney Cronin and Kevin Seifert. But one standout moment for me on Monday night was this: A little girl asked [Eagles quarterback] Nick Foles who the most inspiring woman in his life is. Foles bent down to the girl’s level and named his wife, explaining how she has dealt with a health condition in recent years all while becoming a new mom. He was sure to mention his own mother and mother-in-law as well to spread the love around. It was a pretty cool moment [watch video below].

Where were you the first time the Eagles played the Patriots in the Super Bowl (SB XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 6, 2005)? What do you remember from the Patriots’ 24-21 victory?

Reiss: I was covering the game for the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass., and that was a big deal for the city of Jacksonville to have a Super Bowl. So I remember how much pride they had, using cruise ships for lodging because the hotel space was a little tight. And probably the biggest thing I remember from the game itself was [Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel running a completely different defense than the team had played all season, with what they called a “Cali” front, as it was more of a pure 4-3 alignment designed to keep [quarterback] Donovan McNabb in the pocket. Who revamps their entire defense for one game? It was an another look at the brilliance of Belichick.

McManus: I was at a friend’s house in Philly – I didn’t get on the beat until 2010. There were stories about Eagles fans taking out second mortgages just so they could make the trip to Jacksonville and watch their team in the Super Bowl. So, yeah, it was a pretty big deal. The Eagles were down 10 in the fourth quarter and I remember what felt like a lack of urgency during a 13-play drive that took nearly four minutes. The Eagles scored, but there was only 46 seconds left the next time they got the ball back. For all the success [then Eagles head coach] Andy Reid has had, clock management has never been his thing.