Since its inception in 1967, the Super Bowl has become an American sporting institution, with nearly the pomp and circumstance that can rival any national holiday. It is the one day of the year football fans, as well as non-football fans, can gather before a television set and continue to create the highest viewer ratings over any other television program.
The allure it has created throughout the country demonstrates that American football truly is America’s sport. And once again Fox Sports will be using its longstanding relationship with the National Football League to kick off Super Bowl XLV.
Distinguished leaders of the NFL community, past and present, military personnel stationed around the world, and American citizens have been brought together for FOX Sports’ recitation of the Declaration of Independence video Montage for Super Bowl XLV.
The Declaration of Independence may be a document many individuals struggle to understand as the written language is not commonly used today. However, FOX Sports found a way to display the true impact of this often-forgotten document.
Fox Sports executive producer Jennifer Pransky is heading this year’s production once again after the Declaration of Independence video tribute was well received in its first debut at Super bowl XXXVI. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Fox Sports knew a patriotic display during America’s most-watched event was appropriate.
The concept was brought to the forefront by Fox Sports chairman David Hill. An Australian-born citizen, Hill was reminded of the deep impact the Declaration of Independence bestowed upon him while receiving his American citizenship. To him, the document summed up what the American nation was all about.
For this year’s production, Pransky knew the project would not be an easy task, but one well worth pursuing.
“This year we are redoing the shoot 100%,” Pransky said. “This time around we knew we wanted to include citizens and football fans throughout the world, as well as the distinguished leaders in the NFL. And it has been a lot of work. Not only do you have to coordinate the players’ schedules, you have to find different locations throughout America, and find groups of people to participate in the shoot. It’s a lot to bring together but it is definitely worth it.”
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver and cornerback Charles Woodson were two of the NFL players chosen for this year’s production. And for Driver and Woodson, to be selected for such a project is truly rewarding.
“I saw the guys that have been a part of it before and knew how much it must have meant to them,” Driver said. “To be selected and mentioned with that group of guys is an honor. It shows how much love and support fans have given you – that they (Fox) wanted us to be involved.
“At first I didn’t understand the connection between reading the Declaration of Independence for the Super Bowl, but once I saw the 2008 video, I understood. It is truly amazing how they were able to transition that history into the game of football. You see how much the times have changed and you still believe in the things that were back then and you believe in the things that hold true today.”
Over the years Driver and Woodson have been praised for their achievements on and off the field. For Woodson, being chosen for such a prestigious production reminded him that his hard work has not gone unnoticed.
“I think you have to put in a lot of hard work, play good ball for a long period of time, and play for a great organization like the Packers, and then down the road you might be lucky to get picked for something like this,” Woodson said.
“So this feels great. Driver has been around here for a long time and has done a lot of great things for this community. I myself have been around for a long time and I think the NFL has acknowledged that, so for Fox Sports to pick us is a big honor.”
Both Driver and Woodson were humbled to take part in this year’s production but admitted it would be extra special were they to play in the game following its debut. Low-and-behold, their wishes have come true.
“When we decided to use Donald Driver and Charles Woodson we wanted the setting to be somewhere that represented Green Bay, Wis.,” Pransky said. “It is a packing town. It’s about the blue collar workers, so we knew Green Bay Packaging Inc. was the right fit.”
And for the employees at Green Bay Packaging Inc., that Tuesday, Dec. 28, morning was not the typical workday as the filming production took over the factory.
Green Bay Packaging Inc. sales manager Roy Schneider expressed excitement and appreciation for the opportunity given his employees.
“When we first found out about the filming we were ecstatic,” Schneider said. “We knew we wanted to have a mix of employees from our office and the plant involved. It definitely wasn’t too hard getting volunteers for the shoot, I’ll tell you that much.”
The selected employees were positioned with Driver and Woodson in the factory for the shoot while co-workers stood nearby to watch recording.
“It feels great to have our company be involved with this project,” he said. “We have been excited for this and are all very proud to have been chosen as the business to represent Green Bay. We have been a part of the community for over 75 years and have been one of the bigger employers in the area, so this is pretty special.”
Both Driver and Woodson were proud to stand side-by-side with the employees of Green Bay Packaging Inc. as they knew just how hard members of the community work day in and day out, while also showing their fan loyalty to the Packers.
“You have hard-working people in this community and I think that is really what this video signifies,” Woodson said. “I’m sure the things they enjoy at Green Bay Packaging as employees, came from working together to get things done. I think it was fitting that we were filmed there with them because as a team, we work hard to get things done too. It was a lot of fun and a great honor.”
Driver enjoyed seeing the excitement in the participating community members’ eyes during filming as he too shared their enthusiasm.
“It’s great to have members of our community involved,” Driver said. “Many of the employees kept asking when the video was going to be aired and we were joking with them that they don’t’ want to mess up because millions of people around the world will be watching. It was fun and something we will all cherish for a long time.
“I know I will always remember this. This is something I will be able to show my kids down the road and say, ‘Look, Dad was a part of history. He got to be in the Declaration of Independence Super Bowl video.’”
This year’s feature will include NFL faces such as Drew Brees, DeMarcus Ware, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Anthony Munoz, Joe Gibbs, Troy Polamalu, to name a few, along with all five branches of the military.
And while the task at hand is not an easy one, Pransky has kept the production process on track. Not only has she been covering all corners of the United States, Pransky traveled as far as Qatar and Iraq to film members of the air force stationed in the Middle East.
Each location has been chosen to depict the different environments across America, while each player was chosen for his ability to represent great playing on the field and for being great men off the field.
“With Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), we filmed him with a group of high school football players and cheerleaders at a school in New Orleans’ ninth ward,” Pransky said. “It was the school he helped rebuild following Hurricane Katrina. We filmed Jerry Rice (Pro Football Hall of Famer) and Tim Brown (Nine-time Pro Bowl selectee) with the Coast Guard out in the Bay Area.
“We did another shoot with Anthony Munoz (Pro Football Hall of Famer) in an open field with a group of grain farmers. We really want to represent America and I think we have.”
The Fox Sports Super Bowl XLV video Montage will premiere Feb. 6, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. CT. And with an expected attendance of 100,000 and an expected viewership of 100 million, this year’s tribute to America clip is sure to leave a lasting impression throughout the world.
To view photos from the shoot click here