CBS' James Brown knows what it is like to host Super Bowl pregame shows when the day transcended beyond the teams competing for a championship.
Brown hosted Fox's pregame for the 2002 Super Bowl, which occurred nearly five months after 9/11. With the coronavirus pandemic still at the forefront, Brown realizes Sunday's “Super Bowl Today” show could offer the same opportunities, but in a different manner.
“Typically, sporting events offer a respite to get away and to enjoy hopefully a competitive game. People are looking for that kind of relief and coming off of all that we’ve gone through, there’s a strong desire, hopefully, to become more unified,” Brown said. “It will be in a different sense of 9/11 because that was a celebration of withstanding the attempt at our country, but it was very patriotic and unifying. This is a different kind of backdrop where many people have just been fatigued, given all of the challenges that we’ve had to endure during this time.”
This will be a record 10th Super Bowl pregame hosted by Brown and his sixth for CBS. He didn't even know that anyone kept track until someone mentioned two years ago that he tied Brent Musburger, who coincidentally anchored seven of his nine with CBS.
“I never even gave any thought to it. I’ve just been so focused on being prepared to set my teammates up for them to look good and just to do my job,” he said.
Brown called NFL games on CBS for seven seasons during his first stint at the network. He became the pregame host for Fox in 1994 when they outbid CBS for the rights to the NFC package. Brown then returned to CBS in 2006 to helm “The NFL Today,” and has been a guiding presence on a show that went through plenty of changes in the first eight seasons after the network returned to doing games.
A standout basketball player at Harvard, Brown has shown the skills of a point guard in the way he can introduce features along with getting analysts Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms, Bill Cowher and Nate Burleson involved.
“He’s what I call comfort food. He’s our comfort food because we know that we’re in good hands with maybe the best studio host in the history of the sport,” Esiason said.