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A Sunday In The Fall: McManus’ football routine remains the same

By John Ourand
McManus keeps tabs on all NFL pregame shows, including on other networks.Jesse Ward

The media business has changed wildly over the 25 years since CBS hired Sean McManus to run its sports division. But Sundays in the fall have remained remarkably similar for the CBS Sports chairman.

 

McManus’ NFL Sundays start at 7:30 a.m. when he wakes up and devours as much news as he can. Back in 1998, the first season McManus had the NFL, he would scan multiple newspapers. These days, he visits multiple websites and scrolls through Twitter.

He arrives at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City around 11 a.m., grabs a cup of coffee and makes the rounds to the various sets and production control rooms to check in with everyone from camera operators to on-air stars.

“From Day 1, when CBS got the NFL back, I wanted to be right in the middle of the production, which is why I come into the studio every Sunday,” McManus said. “My routine has remained basically the same. I think it’s important that I’m seen and heard.”

The visits are mainly social, but he’ll occasionally suggest a topic that he thinks should be in the show.

Starting at noon, when “The NFL Today” starts on the broadcast network, McManus is in a viewing room to keep tabs on all the pregame shows, including ones on ESPN, Fox and NFL Network. “I’ve already seen some of our features, so I will use that time to switch over to Fox,” he said.

As the 1 p.m. kickoffs get underway and lunch is brought in, McManus dons a headset and monitors all the games, including the ones shown on Fox. He sits in the front row of the viewing room, next to CBS Sports President David Berson and Patty Power, CBS Sports executive vice president of operations and engineering.

“I try to listen to at least 20 minutes or so to every one of our teams, whether it’s Ian Eagle or Jim Nantz or Spero Dedes or Andrew Catalon or Greg Gumbel,” he said.

It’s like the best version of a sports bar, with 15 screens showing every bit of action from that day’s NFL games. Only in this scenario, McManus can effect change. If he notices something on a telecast that he wants done differently — such as more or fewer crowd shots — he will contact Executive Producer Harold Bryant on a private line for just such contingencies, and Bryant will pass the suggestion to the game producer at halftime, although those calls don’t happen frequently.

McManus and his team stay through the 4 p.m. ET games before heading home.

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