If your TV picture from Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver starts to look shaky tonight, don’t blame your television — or the NBC Sports crew that's broadcasting the game.
Blame the stadium, says Fred Gaudelli, the veteran executive producer of "NBC Sunday Night Football," the highest-rated prime-time show on all of prime-time television.
“The thing about Mile High that’s different when it comes to showing a game,” Gaudelli says, “is that if the place really gets rocking, you’ll see the cameras shaking. And that’s because the entire stadium is built on steel and the stands actually shake. And so, the cameras shake. That’s unique to Mile High, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
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Gaudelli says he expects a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on tonight with all the negative energy in Denver when it comes to the Ravens.
"The energy in the stadium Thursday night is going to be tremendous and it’s all about revenge, trying to undo the great 'wrong' that took place, last season," he says referring to the Ravens' last-minute playoff victory over the Broncos. "You don't get ultimate revenge, because Baltimore went on to win it all last year. But the stands are going to be electric with a desire to open the season by avenging that loss."
Gaudelli says he feels for Baltimore fans because the game won’t be played at home, the result of a scheduling conflict with the Orioles.
"Having done all these kickoff games, which are usually in the home of the Super Bowl champions, I came to understand that for a lot of the fans this is their first chance to see the team that won the Super Bowl in a game that means something," he says. "So, there's that electricity in the air and sense of celebration when you open in the home of the Super Bowl champs."
But he notes that his crew, which includes Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, will be in Baltimore for what he thinks will be two of the biggest and possibly most-viewed prime-time games of the season -- against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night and New England Patriots on Dec. 22.
"I do feel bad for the Baltimore fans, because they don’t get their moment in the sun here. But I’m sure they’ll more than make up for it when we see them on Thanksgiving and at the end of the season," Gaudelli, the winner of 16 Emmys, says.
And for once, Ravens fans are not going to be able to gripe about not getting their due when it comes to face time on the TV’s biggest stage because of Baltimore’s small-market status. The Ravens will be featured at least three times on Gaudelli’s show this season along with the Broncos, Patriots, Steelers, Packers, Giants and Cowboys.
"You know how I feel about M&T Bank Stadium; it's one of the top sports venues in America, and the Ravens crowd is one of the best crowds in sports," says Gaudelli, who was brought in as a consultant by the Ravens and the NFL when M&T Bank Stadium was being built to help make it more TV-friendly. If you enjoy all those unobstructed sight lines and the feeling that the fans are practically on the field, Gaudelli is one of the guys to thank.
"We love coming to Baltimore," he says. "But Thursday night, we open in Denver. And I expect Mile High is going to be rocking."