Giants, Fox Sports To Salute Veterans With Two-Way Feed to Afghanistan

Sunday will be a special day for the armed forces as the New York Giants and Fox Sports team up to produce a special Veteran’s Day tribute. The Giants host the Cowboys in Fox’s national 4:15 p.m. ET game, and, inside the stadium and throughout the broadcast, the home team and the network will salute the nation’s armed services.

Fans at the stadium will be treated to two free concerts on the plaza outside New Meadowlands Stadium, where both the Navy Jazz Band and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes will be performing before kickoff.

“We’re going to have all the armed forces around the stadium,” says Don Sperling, VP/executive producer of the Giants. “We’re going to activate military from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard outside before the game.”

Live From (and To) Afghanistan
For the official pre-game show, Giants legend and former Navy pilot Phil McConkey will take the field along with the family of General Richard Mills, the current commander at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.

“We will have a live two-way satellite feed with the general and the troops watching the game in Afghanistan at Camp Leatherneck throughout the afternoon, on our video boards,” Sperling says. “We’re going to have an uplink truck here to take the satellite feed, which is coming from Afghanistan to DVIDS in Atlanta and then to us at the stadium. It took a lot of coordination between the general, his staff, the Marines, the communications center, the people in Atlanta, and Fox Sports to extend the cable, extend the satellite, aim the dishes, and get this done.”

Aside from the technical logistics involved in getting a clean satellite feed to the New Meadowlands Stadium video boards, there were plenty of challenges involved in planning this transmission. Giants production manager Christine Baluyot was charged with working closely with the Marines and the technical companies involved to overcome those challenges and finalize all of the details surrounding the transmission.

“Initially, where they could watch the game, we couldn’t do the two-way satellite, and where we could do the two-way satellite, they couldn’t watch the game,” Sperling explains. “We had to make some preparations and get a company out there to get that to work. At one point, we were going to do this through the Web, but we decided that we didn’t want to do that. It’s also 2-5 in the morning there, so we’re happy that the general happens to be a big Giants fan.”

The feed will be SD coming off the satellite, but Sperling is confident that fans will understand why this video is the only non-HD content shown in the stadium.

Special Fans in the Stands
The live two-way feed will be available for Sperling to bring up on the video boards throughout the game, and Fox Sports will take a feed from Sperling’s control room to be able to cut to the live feed on the broadcast as well. Mills will be able to see and talk to his family, and he will introduce the Giants team as the players run out of the tunnel.

“We’ll get the day started off by letting everyone know that we have some special fans watching the game along with us,” Sperling says. “For that opening announcement, the gauntlet is going to be lined with 25 wounded warriors, so the players will run out through them.”

A giant American flag, stretching from the 30 to the 30, will be unveiled by 125 service members, representing all five of the armed forces. Recent American Idol winner Lee DeWyze will sing the national anthem, and fireworks will fly.

“At halftime, we’re going to have all the five armed forces come out each with their own flag at midfield, surrounding the smaller American flag,” Sperling explains. “The Navy band will then play a medley of all the armed forces’ theme songs. Bridget Kelly is then going to step on the stage and sing ‘America the Beautiful’ accompanied by the Navy Jazz Band.”

More tributes will be played for the service members throughout the second half as the Giants and Fox Sports salute America’s armed forces.