The last time the Redskins played the Giants, Fox previewed the game with a particularly ludicrous video package, featuring actors parading around the Lincoln Memorial and the District’s downtown streets, dressed like Robert Griffin III and holding RGIII campaign signs.
There were also interviews with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, neither of whom are actually Redskins fans. To these jaded eyes, the brief piece didn’t exactly tap into the city’s nervous system.
The opening video for Monday night’s rematch sounds considerably more promising, not least because of the involvement of Rico Labbe, the former All-Met from Archbishop Carroll and one-time Redskins draft pick who now does video production work out of Montgomery County.
Labbe and his Victory Pictures partners — Michael Sciallis and Jason Jobes – produce many of the often-elaborate opens for Monday Night Football – this week’s will be their sixth of the season. Weeks before the game, they – along with Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman — attempt to identify the key narrative of the game in question, which notes they could hit to rile up committed viewers and attract the casual fan.
And for Redskins-Giants II, the answer was pretty clear. It had to do with football, not politics.
“The storyline was the rematch,” Labbe, 44, told me last week. “So we honed it down to those last two minutes of the last game, the most spectacular parts of the game. Then we narrowed that down to three plays.”
The three plays in question will be easily recalled by anyone who watched New York’s 27-23 win: Griffin’s remarkable scramble-and-pass on 4th-and-10, his miraculous 30-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss, and Eli Manning’s almost-immediate answer to Victor Cruz.
Now, what value could a production company add to those three bits of magic?
“When you’re a little kid, you would do radio commentary for games, put your hand up to your mouth — 2 minutes left in the game, 4th and 10….” Labbe said. “We said, hey, it’d be pretty cool for RGIII and Eli to do that.”
Which is why Labbe and his crew spent Wednesday at Redskins Park with Griffin and Thursday in the New York area with Manning, asking the quarterbacks to provide play-by-play their own on-field works.
(Griffin, needless to say, nailed it on one of his first attempts. “He’s like a one- or two- take guy, he’s definitely that,” Labbe said. “I was in disbelief. This guy did it in one or two takes, and it’s really good….The sky’s the limit for that guy. He could be on-air. He’s just scratching the surface of who he can be and what he can be, on and off the field.”)
Now, when you watch the game on Monday night, maybe you’ll be at FedEx Field, or maybe you’ll be filling a bowl with nacho=cheese-powder-coated snack product, or maybe you’ll actually watch those 60 seconds of pre-game video.
For Labbe and friends, though, that moment is the culmination of a frantic five days of shooting (they spent nearly six hours at Redskins Park on Wednesday) and editing (they’ll spend 60 or 70 hours working on the piece, from Friday until Monday) and final touches (the segment will be completed late Monday afternoon, just a few hours before it airs.)
“It’s like giving birth,” said Labbe, although, true, he’s never actually been pregnant. “It’s something you’ve thought about and contemplated and worked on, and all of the sudden, there it is on the screen. And you’re like, wow.’ “
Viewers, he hopes, have the same reaction.