Sports media: NBC bringing ‘Football Night in America’ to Chicago for Bears’ opener


When Bears fans turn on Ch. 5 before the season opener against the Packers on Thursday, they’ll be welcomed to the 100th season of the NFL by Betty White and Brett Favre.

Undoubtedly, each will conjure different emotions.

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The two shot the segment a couple of weeks ago to open NBC’s pregame show “Football Night in America.” White, 97, can joke she’s about as old as the NFL. Favre can boast he went 23-13 against the Bears. Hopefully, he stays classy.

But NBC has much more lined up for the hourlong show as it brings the entire FNIA cast to Chicago. The show will broadcast from Soldier Field and Grant Park, where the NFL will host a concert.

“The thinking of bringing the whole group to the venue is really to celebrate the day in football,” said coordinator producer Rob Hyland. “The spotlight is on Chicago, and what better way to start the season than to be on site for the start of the NFL season.

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“Having our entire team on site allows us to be a part of the experience, and that begins early that morning with the ‘Today’ show and then the concert taking place at Grant Park, and we’re going to document that all during our coverage next Thursday night.”

A crew of about 75 will work on FNIA, the most-watched sports studio show since it debuted in 2006. Another roughly 200 will handle the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast.

FNIA host Mike Tirico will be with Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison on the main set on the sideline. Mike Florio and Chris Simms will join Liam McHugh on an adjacent auxiliary set. Kathryn Tappen will host from Grant Park.

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Hyland said the show will have a Chicago flavor. “Super Fans” Rob Smigel and George Wendt have a segment, and the show will take a tongue-in-check look at the Double Doink, coined by “SNF” analyst Cris Collinsworth.

“There’s a couple distinctly Chicago elements in the show we think will be a lot of fun,” Hyland said.

NBC Sports Chicago also on site

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NBCSCH will broadcast “SportsTalk Live” and its new “Primetime Preshow” from the NFL Experience in Grant Park starting at 5 p.m. Thursday. The new show will air before every Bears night game.