OXNARD, Calif. NBC Sports and the Dallas Cowboys announced that they will work with Replay Technologies Inc. to provide a unique, new 360-degree “FreeD” look at red-zone plays for viewers watching NBC football telecasts and fans at the game in AT&T Stadium.
“FreeD” (free dimensional video) will debut during the Sept. 8 Sunday Night Football New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys opener. In addition, NBC Sports will use the system for the October 5 Notre Dame-Arizona State game, and the October 13 Redskins-Cowboys SNF game (in addition to any Cowboys home games flexed into primetime) at AT&T Stadium. Fans in the stadium will also see “FreeD” replays on the scoreboard at all home games, as well as on Cowboys local programming during the season.
The “FreeD” system will utilize 24 high-speed cameras mounted in the stadium — 12 in each red zone placed on both sides of the field from the 20-yard line to the goal line and in the back of each end zone — to provide replays of key red-zone plays from a 360-degree perspective, enabling fans to see the action seamlessly.
“We are excited to partner with NBC Sports to bring a new look at replays to our fans,” said Charlotte Anderson, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president. “We are always striving to be on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Just as our center hung video board has changed the way our fans view the game, we believe that this ‘FreeD’ technology will add a unique viewing dimension for our fans at every game.”
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“The Cowboys are the perfect partner, because AT&T Stadium is the most technologically advanced stadium in the world, and the organization is constantly striving to provide the best entertainment experience for their fans,” said Fred Gaudelli, coordinating producer of Sunday Night Football. “Being able to seamlessly move from side to side and around an entire play without switching shots will entertain and inform the fans at the stadium and watching our telecast. Fans will think they are playing a video game or watching a Sci-fi movie, but they’ll actually be viewing football as never presented before.”
RELATED: ‘FreeD’ brings 360-degree camera views to NBC football this fall
Sure, the Palace in Dallas, newly rechristened AT&T Stadium in a naming rights deal worth upwards of $19 million a year, may be a $1.2 billion monument to excess to Texas-style size and excess. But that doesn’t doesn’t mean the high-end gadgetry inside can’t be put to good use.
This season, in conjunction with Replay Technologies Inc., the Dallas Cowboys and NBC Sports will introduce 360-degree, “FreeD” replay views for red-zone action (from the 20-yard line to the end zone), available for viewers watching NBC’s football broadcasts, local Cowboys broadcasts in Dallas, and those inside the stadium staring up at 23,040 square feet of center-hung LED Diamond Vision display. Twenty four cameras – 12 on each side of the field – placed strategically allow depth and color to be calculated for every pixel within visible coverage. The information is then built into 3D models enabling fully orbiting views without switching cameras. The effect is like a combination of The Matrix-style “bullet time” and the latest Google Maps animations, with any moment of action viewable from almost any conceivable angle.
The system makes its maiden NFL voyage on Sept. 8, when the Dallas Cowboys host the New York Giants and will be used again on October 13th when Dallas hosts Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. Fans of college football will also get a taste of FreeD when Notre Dame plays Arizona State on the 5th of October, at AT&T Stadium as part of this year’s “Shamrock Series.”
Fred Gaudelli, producer of “Sunday Night Football” for NBC, told the Television Critics Association Sunday the decision to place the system in Dallas was no accident. “It literally takes a month to install this system,” he said. “Obviously, we’re doing games every single week. So there’s only one system in the world. We basically had to put it in a stadium we knew we were going to be at least twice. Pray for three times.”
No sport has a larger, more dedicated television watching audience than the NFL. FreeD promises fresh views of a football game’s most critical moments. (Including potentially soul crushing, late game mistakes). The upcoming NFL season contains a nearly endless array of compelling questions. If, for you, one happens to be “If Tony Romo and The Matrix had a baby, what would it look like?”
Your answer is coming.
In an exclusive interview that will be broadcast on NBC’s “Football Night in America” before the Cowboys-Redskins game, Jason Witten had this to say to Bob Costas:
On being in a win-or-go-home situation for the second consecutive year: “It’s tough to get to the situation we are in and play for the division title. It’s been an up and down year. There is no question about that. But to get this opportunity, hopefully our past experiences will allow us to make that jump and get a win.”
On Tony Romo taking blame when things go wrong: “I think it is something he handles really well and does a great job not allowing it to effect his game and his ability to lead our team.”
On Romo’s ability to improvise: “His ability to improvise is like none other. I know that those plays are always alive. It’s great to have a guy like that who you have such great chemistry with on and off the field.”
On being in a familiar win-or-go-home situation: “Our mind-set is one that we are going to find a way to win this game. Our team has embraced that opportunity, and this is why we have played football since we were little kids.”
On the outcome of the game having an impact on the playoffs: “The energy and emotion is going to be through the roof. You are so fortunate to be in that situation and I want our team to enjoy that. It puts chills down your arms just thinking about it. So much work has gone in to getting to this point.”
Cowboys fans won’t have to wait as long as other teams’ fans to see their favorite team kick off the 2012 season.
That’s because Dallas will be a part of the 2012 season’s first regular season game: a Wednesday night matchup with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The game will take place at the Giants’ home of MetLife Stadium on Wednesday, September 5 at 7:30 pm. The game is being played on Wednesday to avoid a conflict with the speech of President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, set for the following Thursday.
Bad news for Cowboys fans: the defending Super Bowl champions are 8-0 in this game since the tradition began in the 2004 season. The Giants swept the Cowboys last season.
It will be the first regular-season game for the Cowboys on a night or day other than Monday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.
RELATED: Giants to host rival Cowboys in 2012 season opener
The Super Bowl champion New York Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium in the 2012 season-opening NFL Kickoff game on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 8:30 p.m., the NFL announced Tuesday.
The game will be televised by NBC.
The league announced last month that the season opener would be held on a Wednesday instead of the traditional Thursday night kickoff in order to avoid a conflict with President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention the following night.
The Cowboys’ last game also was at the Meadowlands, where the Giants beat them 31-14 to win the NFC East. That was the second of six straight victories for New York that culminated in their Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.
The telecast of that victory over Dallas averaged 27.6 million viewers, the most ever for a Sunday night game. It was the most-watched regular-season prime-time game in 15 years.
It will be the first time the Giants closed one season and opened the next one in the same venue against the same opponent since 1994-95. Back then, it was also the Cowboys, at Giants Stadium.
(Photo by Tim Hipps)
Barry Sanders Jr. sweeps left for a 10-yard touchdown run during the West team’s intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday in preparation for the 2012 U.S. All-American Bowl, set for Saturday at 12 noon CST at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game is being televised live by NBC, right now.
SAN ANTONIO – Barry Sanders Jr. says he feels no pressure to live up to standards established by his father.
“People ask me the question all the time, if I’ll ever be as good as him, and I don’t think anybody will ever be as good as him – just by the numbers he put up,” Sanders said after Tuesday morning practice for the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. “So I just come out here and do what I can, and just work at it every day.”
The younger Sanders will play for the West in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for high school seniors Saturday at 12 p.m. CST at the Alamodome. The game will be televised live by NBC.
With this event, the son of a man who became the third-leading rusher in NFL history in a short 10 years makes his debut on the national stage. The son knows the numbers his father generated: an NCAA single-season record 2,628 rushing yards en route to winning the 1988 Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma State and an NFL career-high 2,053 rushing yards in 1997, his next-to-last season with the Detroit Lions.
Selected for the Pro Bowl in each of his 10 seasons, the senior Sanders’ career rushing yards per game average of 99.8 yards rank second in NFL history behind only Jim Brown’s 104.3 yards per game. He set dozens of records en route to 15,269 NFL career rushing yards, which trail only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726). Though he did not play the position until the middle of his last high school season, his is listed as the most elusive running back of all time by NFL.com.
Sanders Jr., however, is not exactly sure about his own numbers, compiled during a career at Heritage Hall High in Oklahoma City.
“Career-wise?” he asked. “I think I finished at 5,000 career yards. I can’t remember how many touchdowns. I looked at the yardage, but I didn’t calculate the carries. I averaged around nine yards a carry.”
Along the way, he also lost track of career touchdowns.
“Maybe 50-plus or 60, I don’t know,” Sanders Jr. said. “I would have to go back and look, but I haven’t looked at that stuff in a long time.”
The Oklahoman reports that Sanders rushed for 1,343 yards and 20 touchdowns on 141 carries – an average of 9.52 yards per carry – during his senior season in 13 games for Class 3A Heritage Hall.
Standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 180 to 185 pounds, Sanders plans to keep growing.
“I hope so,” he said. “I’ll be 18 in April. I may have a couple more inches in me. My dad said he played best about 195. I don’t want to get too heavy.”
The elder Sanders topped out at 5-8.
Although the comparisons are inevitable, Sanders has enjoyed the challenge of being the son of a legendary running back.
“It’s not hard at all,” he said. “It brings about great opportunity and it’s up to me to take advantage of it. And I think I’ve done a great job of it.”
Just how good is this Barry Sanders?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess we’ll find out on Saturday. I guess the playing will speak for itself.”
Sanders is one of 99 players hoping to make a name in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“We’re all dedicated,” Sanders said. “We got here for a reason. It shows when we’re out here on the field. We’re all focused and want to get better. We’re looking forward to having good college careers.”
Several players plan to announce their choice of colleges at the game. Sanders narrowed his field to Stanford, Florida State, Alabama and his father’s alma mater, Oklahoma State, not necessarily in that order.
“I’ll decide at the game,” he said. “I just hope to go out and make as few errors as possible as far as having my technique down on pass blocking, make sure I get the right guy and stay in front of him and keep the quarterback safe. When I get the ball, make sure I hit the right hole, make the right moves, and just do the little things right.”
During the West’s practice on Tuesday, Sanders received the biggest hit of the morning from Aziz Shittu, a 6-3, 275-pound defensive tackle from Buhach Colony High in Atwater, Calif.
“I was looking for the cutback and he was right there and made a good, clean hit,” Sanders said. “Aziz is a good player. We’ve seen each other on a couple of visits. He’s one of the more goofy guys. When I found out it was him, I was like, ‘Aw, man, he’s going to give me crap about that afterward.’ But it was good. I was glad it was him and not somebody else because he is a good dude.
“We’re all out here trying to do our thing and he did get me.”
Sanders later dashed 10 yards around left end for a touchdown.
“I guess that made up for it,” he said with a smile.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is considered a steppingstone for players hoping reaching the next level. Here, one can no longer count on domination through sheer talent.
“I’ve been thinking a lot before the snap to make sure I know exactly what I’m doing,” Sanders said. “I’m thinking probably more than I usually do. Everything doesn’t come as easy as it did playing with my high school team. Things are going fast. It’s definitely an adjustment. It’s going good, though. I’m having fun.”
The players are keeping busy and having fun off the field during Army All-American Bowl week.
“The guys from the West and East, we get along great,” Sanders said. “Last night, we went to the Hard Rock. We all joked, laughed and watched the OSU-Stanford game. We probably stayed up a little too late watching that because it ended late, but we’re all looking forward to competing Saturday, playing with the guys from the West and playing against the guys from the East.”
On Wednesday, the players will be paired with Soldier-heroes for a challenging evening of food and games. On Thursday, they will have a barbeque inside the Alamodome. On Friday, they will visit the Army Strong Zone, a sea of U.S. Army exhibits outside the Alamodome, and attend an awards banquet.
At some point, they must find time to rest for the main event.
“We are looking forward to the time when we get to lay our heads down and just get a quick nap or at night when we’re able to go to sleep because we’re out here working hard and after we eat, we’re all sleepy,” Sanders said. “That’s most of our routine when we’re back at home: play football, eat and sleep – so those three things get put into action this week.”