National Football League
Behind the Scenes with FOX's NFL crew : Barbecue and a bruise in Kansas City
National Football League

Behind the Scenes with FOX's NFL crew : Barbecue and a bruise in Kansas City

Updated Nov. 28, 2022 5:56 p.m. ET

By Richie Zyontz
FOX NFL Lead Producer

Editor's Note: Richie Zyontz has been an NFL producer for FOX since 1994 and the lead producer for the last 20 seasons. He has more than 40 years of experience covering the league and has produced six Super Bowls. Throughout the 2022 NFL season, he will provide an inside look as FOX's new No. 1 NFL team makes its journey toward Super Bowl LVII.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City sits in the heart of America. Located along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, the area is rich in history and culture.  

With as many boulevards as Paris and more fountains than Rome, the locals have a lot to be proud of. There are wonderful museums celebrating jazz, Negro Leagues baseball and President Harry S. Truman. The list of famous locals is impressive — Walter Cronkite, Amelia Earhart, Count Basie, Satchel Paige and if you needed to rob a train, Jesse James.


Let's not forget the barbecue. Oh, the barbecue.

It creates the official aroma of Kansas City and remains one of the many treats of covering a Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium. This is tailgate central, as close to a college atmosphere as can be found in the NFL. The alluring fragrance of grilled meat fills the air. Football and food is a tough combination to beat.

Kansas City Chiefs tailgate

The FOX NFL TV crew catches a tailgate outside Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City before Sunday's Chiefs-Rams game.

Sea of red

In addition to smelling good, Arrowhead is a great TV venue. The sea of fans dressed in red makes for a visual spectacle. And they sure can make a lot of noise. This is the challenge facing our audio staff: How to mix the sounds from the field with the sounds of the crowd and still allow our announcers to be clearly heard.

It varies from week to week based on the conditions in the stadium. During our Thanksgiving broadcast from Dallas, we were able to clearly hear all the quarterback calls at the line of scrimmage. It made for good television as Greg Olsen was able to translate the verbiage in real time. Duplicating that in Arrowhead was a tough task.

This challenge fell on the hands of our audio mixer, Jamie McCombs. A native of St. Petersburg, Fl., he has worked in the world of sound for 35 years, spending 10 seasons on FOX's lead college football crew, and the last two with us. 

Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs is introduced to the fans before a game at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images.)

He presides over an audio console that looks like it belongs on a Star Trek ship deck, with dozens of faders and microphones. As someone who can't open a box of cereal, I'm in total awe of those with technical abilities.

Jamie does his job with little fanfare and great skill, navigating the broadcast as calmly as he navigates his boat through the waterways of Tampa Bay.

Thanks to Jamie's expert mix, our announcers were never drowned out by the boisterous crowd. And when the fans settled down with the Chiefs on offense, we clearly picked up Patrick Mahomes' calls.

Another fine day of work by Jamie and his team of Mike Davis, Tim Bischof and Ben Altopp.

A plan gone awry

One team having less success is the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams

Injuries and poor play have derailed the defense of their title. The stress and strain on coach Sean McVay were quite evident during our Friday video call.

Describing their season as challenging, humbling and frustrating, McVay wasn't making excuses — but he seemed drained of spirit.

These calls with coaches often serve as therapy for them — a chance to vent and let their guard down. McVay wasn't making excuses, but he made it clear the Rams team we saw Sunday would not in any way resemble the high-flying squad we've come to know.

Sidelines can be dangerous 

McVay might have experienced emotional turmoil coming into the game, but he was feeling physical pain afterward. 

As a Rams player was putting on his helmet and running on the field, he accidentally shouldered his coach in the jaw, clearly causing McVay a lot of pain. This was the shot of the game, courtesy of veteran cameraman Michael Dranes (Drano). It was so memorable, we probably showed it four times throughout the broadcast.

At halftime, McVay expressed surprise to sideline reporter Tom Rinaldi that our cameras caught the incident.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Drano's picture summed up a season gone awry for the defending champs.

We transition from Kansas City barbecue to Italian sandwiches at Pastificio in South Philadelphia next week as we head to The City of Brotherly Love for a matchup between the Eagles and Tennessee Titans.


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