Fox will use its playoff pre-game show to tell America about the unique bond between New Orleans and its Saints

Posted on Jan 16, 2010 in Local Issues, Sports

By Dave Walker, The Times-Picayune
January 16, 2010, 5:00AM

Hollywood — The Arizona Cardinals had made it a runaway against the Green Bay Packers, so there was plenty of down time for chat on the Fox-lot studio set of “Fox NFL Sunday.”

fox_nfl_sunday.JPGCourtesy of FoxFox’s “NFL Sunday” team.SAINTS-CARDINALS PRE-GAME SHOWSLocal pre-game: Noon, WVUEFox network pre-game: 2:30 p.m., WVUEThe Jan. 10 wildcard game would ultimately turn into an overtime corker, so shouted exclamations at the unfolding action would gradually begin to punctuate the low-key jocularity that typically fills the minutes between on-air reports.

The afternoon would conclude with the long-running game running up against the East Coast air time for “The Simpsons” 20th anniversary block the network had been promoting since summer — and with David Hill, chairman of Fox Sports, shouting, “You’re killing me!” at the monitors in the executive control room — but as the one-sided blowout turned to a thriller of an Arizona Cardinals victory, the stars of Fox’s football pre- and post-game studio show had plenty of time to talk to a visiting reporter.

Earlier in the season, Howie Long had delivered a commentary on the show built around a Nice Guys Finish First theme. In it, he praised Sean Payton and Drew Brees for their deportment on and off the field.

As the Packers clawed their way back into the game on a monitor behind him, Long talked about the piece’s inspiration.

“In this business, I think it’s easy to do the negative, ” Long said. “It’s out there. It’s easy to do. I think there are a lot more good guys in the league than bad guys. I certainly think your

quarterback is one of the good guys in the league. And I think in these days of worrying about the last dollar, Sean Payton knows the defensive coordinator he wants and he quietly gives him some of his salary in order to bring Gregg Williams in, a boon for them.

“There are guys you take for granted. In this 24-hour-news-cycle, attention-deficit-world we live in, the car wreck sells. I’m not particularly a fan of it. But then again, I’m the person that looks away when I drive by a car wreck. Maybe I’m a little different.”

Long said he likes the Saints chances today, late-season downturn aside.

“They were really beat up, ” he said. “They were out of rhythm.

“Arizona is the ultimate Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team. Today you got Mr. Hyde. They are meaner than snot.

“If New Orleans can get healthy and get their rhythm again, they’re frightening. Particularly down there. I think that building and Minnesota are the last of the small concrete bunkers. The noise just reverberates.

“I think it’s an incredible opportunity. You win one and you’re hosting the NFC Championship game, and you’re one game away from the Super Bowl.

“They’re going to be tough for people to beat.”

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