It can be as simple as the shirt cardboard that Curt Gowdy will use to remind himself of Super Bowl anecdotes, or as complex as only $5 million, worth of sophisticated electronic equipment in the hands of 180 human bodies can make it.
But most of all, the televising America's most important professional football game - the Super Bowl Sunday - is going to be spectacular, promises the National Broadcasting Co. "Actually," said Scotty Connal, executive producer of NBC Sports, "we're pretty excited about all of this."
The network has paid the National Football League $3.5 million for the radio and television rights to the 11th Super Bowl, and will spend $350,000 in production costs to get on the air. The cost easily is justified by the $250,000 per minute NBC is charging advertisers to hawk their various wares in 28 minutes of commercial time during the game.
The audience, the NBC research people say, will be staggering. Some 75 million, including 30 million households, will be watching the game in the United States, with 50 million more waiting or listening worldwide.
The Super Bowl is NBC's showcase event in a hectic period of live coverage of major games that started Jan. 1 with the Base Bowl and Orange Bowl and continued with a college basketball doubleheader Jan. 2, and will include the Senior Bowl Jan. 8 and Sunday's Maryland-N.C. State match.
"It's the most ambitious understaking we've ever done," says Connal.
A total of 224 American television stations, 95 Canadian TV stations, and 315 radio stations in the U.S. will broadcast the Super Bowl, and there will be live satellite feeds to U.S. military statics in West Germany, the Phillipines, the Panama Canal Zone and Korea Taped delayed broadcast also will be shown in West Germany, Great Britain, Taiwan, Turkey and Japan.
"What it basically amounts to," says Connal, the man in charge of production for the affair, "is one tremendous logistical problem. We've spent the last year preparing for it, and we'll be working on it right up until we're on the air."
NBC will utilize 20 cameras, seven slow motion replay discs, five video-tape machines, two vidifonts (for on-the-air graphics), three miles of camera cable and 3 1/2 miles of audio cable.
They have also constructed a 20-foot by 10-foot plexiglass bubble in the south end of the Rose Bowl at $20,000 cost to house a mini-studio for Grandstand, its pregame, halftime and postgames show.
Even now, a parking lot next to the Rose Bowl looks like a huge electronic truck stop, with 16 mobile units lined up in neat rows. They got a convoy, buddy, and you better believe it.
And still, with all those wheels and wires, cassettes and cameras, announcers and analysts, there is always room for error. Connal people still ask him why NBC was not able to produce a replay of the controversial roughing-the-passer call in the Oakland-New England game three weeks ago.
The explanation is that NBC had only four slow-motion replay discs in operation that day. It was an obvious passing situation, so three of the cameras were focused on three receivers. A fourth was used to follow the ball.
The roughing call on by Sugar Bear Hamileton occurred after Oakland quarterback Ken Stabler released the football, so there was no videotape to replay.
"We play percentages, and if I had it to do over again, I'd do it exactly the same way," said Connal. "Actually, we all thought the penalty would be called for pass interference on (Carl) Garrett. We had that perfectly, and that's what we replayed. But those things happen. Hopefully, it won't happen this week."
There have been hours of production meetings all week to assure it won't.
Connal says every man operating a camera has committed to memory the name and number of every player on both squads. Gowdy and Don Meredith, the main game announcers, have also been out and about talking to coaches and players the last two weeks.
And yet, Connal says, he does not want to give his viewing audience too much, to make the broadcast too tedious, too loaded with iname statistics and stale ancedotes.
"We want to show people the football game, that's all this is really all about," he said. "It's all been said before. The people at home want to see the action, and the fewer the interruptions the better. So we'll put up very few visuals. We're not going to say so and so is a six-year pro, that he broke this scoring record and did this, that and the other thing.
"All the while, we'll be looking for isolates that will help define the game. Is the Oakland offensive line dominating Eller and Page? Is Branch getting double coverage? Are the linebackers blitzing early? That kind of thing. We're looking to show people the keys to the game.
"In the truck, we'll all be screaming and hollering at each other. But at home, hopefully the game will tell the story itself."
Not really, because Gowdy and Meredith will be talking for three hours plus. And when their mouths are closed, those of Grandstand announcers Lee Leonard, Bryant Gumbel, Larry Merchant, Barbara Hunter and others will be wide open - in a one-hour pregame slow, during halftime, on the sidelines and in the winning dressing room when its all over.
Gowdy will be doing his sixth Super Bowl as a play-by-play man, and the other day he was reminiscing about the first one - the 1967 game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
"Paul Christman and I were oing the American Football League for NBC at the time, and we broadcast the game and so did CBS," he said. "All year long CBS had dominated the ratings, but we kept chopping away at them.
"The week of the game, both networks were promoting it like crazy. All the big network executives were here, we had meetings and more meetings and it really got wild. Finally the night before the game, I just said to Christman, 'Let's get out of here.' So we went out and had a nice quiet dinner and we just decided to do the game just like we always had. Just be ourselves. And it worked out fine."
Gowdy also says he is terribly proud to have been the play-by-play man for the Jets upset 16-7 victory over the Colts in the 1969 game. "It saved the Super Bowl game," he said. "If there had been another one-side game, I don't think there would have been another one.
"And more important than that, it sold the AFL into the minds of the American public. I don't like to editorialize, but I remember saying on the air at the time this will probably change the nature of professional football."
"Yes, I still get excited about it. I've never been a screamer or a yeller. People have criticized me for not being dramatic enough. But you can't get excited about very play. That would get very monotonous."