The Verga by David Pierce

The NFL's most exciting game doesn't happen on the field

It's 90 minutes to game time in Foxboro, Massachusetts, and Troy Aikman's not speaking to anyone.

Around him, a dozen or so crew members, assistants, and friends chatter as they finish last-minute preparations, making sure Gillette Stadium is ready for football. They're testing cables and video feeds, rechecking stats, and setting up the fabric "NFL on FOX" backdrop that will turn this bland, gray, carpeted room into the tiny booth millions will soon see on TV.

Through it all, Aikman stays silent. He's surrounded by four computer monitors displaying every stat and feed he'll need for the next several hours, but he's focused on a small tablet on the desk in front of him. He's scrubbing back and forth in a single play, over and over, looking for something only he can see. The gold Super Bowl ring on his left hand occasionally catches the mid-afternoon sun as it shines into the booth, just above the first level of stands at the 50 yard line.

In an hour and a half, the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots will kick off one of the most important and most anticipated games of the young NFL season. Aikman will stand next to Thom Brennaman, his play-by-play partner for the day, and call the game for an audience that will total 26.7 million viewers. The game will be decided on a last-second desperation pass, will shape one quarterback's legacy and two teams' seasons, and will be endlessly discussed and replayed in the days and weeks to come.

But Aikman’s not worried about any of that. For him, and the entire Fox Sports NFL crew in the annals of the stadium below, it’s just another Sunday. read more...

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