The Super Bowl is the epitome of the sports and entertainment crossover, so it’s only fitting that host Rich Eisen took over downtown Minneapolis this week.
Eisen and Super Bowls go together like Tom Brady and winning, and “The Rich Eisen Show” on DirecTV’s Audience Network is making its fourth appearance during the NFL’s championship game (three of which Brady and co. have won).
“DirecTV and AT&T have been great about blowing out the Super Bowl,” Eisen told TheWrap when we visited him ahead of Super Bowl LII, admitting that he was jealous of network colleague Dan Patrick’s sets for years.
After building a whole Western town setup in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX and overlooking Golden Bridge in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50, Eisen now has a fancy set in downtown Minneapolis in front of the U.S. Bank Stadium. “We are going to have a good time,” he predicted, putting it mildly.
Eisen made his Super Bowl picks at the beginning of the 2017 Season, predicting a Patriots-Seahawks rematch with the Pats winning, so he still has a chance to be 50 percent correct. “The main storyline this weekend is that Bill Belichick and his defensive staff will always take away the one thing that you do best,” he said.
“Philadelphia’s Plan A is the same as their B, C and D. The one thing you thought they had was Carson Wentz, and he was taken away but they still found a way to win, so it is going to be exciting.”
Plus, the interest in Tom Brady is “through the roof — as it should be. He is going to be the oldest QB in the history in the Super Bowl and there is no end in sight to his success. People are going to be looking to see what else he will do,” Eisen added.
Along with the biggest names in the NFL (who aren’t playing on Sunday’s Super Bowl LII, of course, they’re a little tied up this week) such as DeMarcus Ware, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen and Willie McGinest, Eisen has had the likes of Snoop Dogg and Guy Fieri on his Super Bowl specials.
“I love having a platform in the sports talk radio space that is rewarded by those involved in the sports conversation,” Eisen said, “but I also love having an entertainment and pop culture element, too.”
While every mainstream sports show might be talking about LeBron James’ latest spat with his Cavaliers teammates, Eisen is likely to be talking “Breaking Bad” with Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston.
“For the first ‘Rich Eisen Show’ I ever did back in 2014, Vince Gilligan turned up in person because I fan-boyed him at an airport when we were on the same flight,” the ESPN and NFL Network veteran told TheWrap. “He had no idea who I was but he agreed to come on my podcast. Any fan now who wants to hear the ultimate ‘Breaking Bad’ exit interview listens to that.
“What should get me through the day is LeBron’s Cavs, but I am trying to identify with the sports fans through pop culture,” he continued, pointing out there are so many places and ways you can consume sports content now. “There’s the live viewing of things, DVR and social media. Like, I consume ‘SNL’ the next day through few minute videos. When we are done with our show, we chop it into three or four-minute bites that we put on Twitter or Instagram, ones that any show owned by a phone company [namely AT&T] should be able to create.
“This is just another venue for sports fans. There are some debates worthy of having, but I am going a different way,” Eisen said of the show’s unique tone over debate-style shows.
As a perfect compliment to his pop culture obsessions, Eisen has teamed up with “Funny or Die” for a series of hilarious videos, with the latest titled “Replay Guy: Fidelity on the Field” having premiered on Wednesday.
“It is a documentary spoof on the guy who holds the replay monitor for the officials on the NFL,” Eisen said of the idea that he conceived by Eisen and in which he stars with Joe Lo Truglio as “replay guy,” and Fox Sports’ Joe Buck, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and former QB Matt Hasselbeck as themselves. “They all played it perfectly!
“To me, sports are as much of an entertainment property as anything else, and we’ve been able to create sports entertainment with ‘Funny or Die.’ It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had doing this job,” he added.
“We also did one on the ‘LaVar Ball School of Homeschooling,’ I love ‘Funny or Die’ and what we are doing is just another part of the fingerprint of the show.”
Eisen is also hosting a podcast with his wife, Suzy Shuster (who also happens to an ESPN, ABC Sports and Fox Sports alum), aptly called “Not Just Sports.”
Inevitably the hottest topic of late has been Super Bowl picks, but even the biggest Bostonian in Hollywood, Mark Wahlberg, is torn. The diehard Patriots fan admitted that while he’ll be “sad if his team loses,” he also loves the Eagles as he played real-life former Philly player Vince Papale in “Invincible.” Now that’s a dilemma.
Whatever happens in Super Bowl LII, the fans are going to be fired up. “These are two evenly matched-teams in a stadium that is second to none, it’s going to be jaw-droppingly incredible,” Eisen said.
Viewers at home watch the action on Sunday when Super Bowl LII kicks off on NBC.
“The Rich Eisen Show” airs daily on DirecTV’s Audience Network 9 a.m.-noon PT.