John Madden will be the game analyst for Super Bowl XLIII. His first Super Bowl as a broadcaster was Super Bowl XVI. That's XXVII Super Bowls ago.
But regardless of whether you can decipher Roman numerals, Madden said the No. 1 thing that has changed in televised football over the past 27 years can be summed up in one word:
"I'll bet you the knowledge you have of the two teams and the game going in, you probably use 5%," said Madden, who will be working with play-by-play partner Al Michaels to call Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"The other 95% hits the floor."
Madden said back when he became a broadcaster he had to do a lot more talking to the players to generate stories, as opposed to things being so statistics-based now. But don't take that to mean Madden misses the old days.
"Everything about television, everything about the NFL, I prefer the way it is right now," Madden said. "It's a lot better in every area."
As for the participating teams this year, the Steelers may have the experience, but it's always fun to have a Cinderella story like the Cardinals on the scene. Well, as long as Cinderella can make a game of it, that is.
"The Steelers are a known commodity, but in total contrast to that, with the Cardinals involved, there is a tremendous air of mystery about this Super Bowl," Michaels said. "A lot of it has to do with the fact that Arizona has been covered so little on national television in recent years."
True, a lot of casual fans wouldn't have known much about the Cards before they began their unexpected playoff run a month ago. But Madden has come to expect, and accept, the unexpected.
"It just adds to what I've said the past few years: The NFL stands for Never Figure League," Madden said. "The minute you think you know what's going to happen, you realize you don't know a doggone thing.
"And you don't have a vote. Someone might say, 'Is this a good matchup for NBC? Is this what NBC wants?' It doesn't make any difference. We don't vote."
In the United States primarily but around the world, too, Super Bowl Sunday has become an unofficial holiday. With all that exposure comes an up-side and a down-side.
"If you lose the Super Bowl, you're forgotten quickly," said Madden, who won Super Bowl XI as the coach of the Oakland Raiders.
"To me the biggest gap in sports is between the winner and the loser of the Super Bowl. The winner has confetti, a parade, rings, the whole thing. The loser, you just put your head down and go to your house."
That's what makes the Super Bowl so compelling.
"It's the essence of live television," Michaels said. "It's unscripted. It's beautifully choreographed. It looks great. The technology is terrific.
"If you're in this business, there's no better day than this."