The Long Beach Poly football team has more than 70 NFL alums, so it’s fitting that the Jackrabbits got some shine on NBC Sunday during the network’s Super Bowl broadcast. Usually football players don’t relish scout team duty, but the Poly program got a rare honor–playing scout team for the Rams and the Bengals in the run-up to Super Bowl 56.
“NBC contacted our athletic director Rob Shock to see if we’d be interested in helping out with the Super Bowl production,” Poly coach Stephen Barbee explained. “They’ve been to a few of our games in the last few years and put clips in Sunday Night Football.”
So three days last week Poly was on the field at 6 a.m. with NBC producers, running through plays from the Bengals and the Rams. Then on Friday, the Jackrabbits boarded buses to SoFi Stadium to help NBC with a tech rehearsal.
Poly departed buses, went into the actual locker rooms the teams will use for the game, then did a run-out on the field and played an entire simulated game. NBC got a chance to practice camera angles and make sure their production team was tight and ready to go, and Poly got a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“There was a lot of pageantry, they had the cheerleaders and the pyrotechnics for the run-out, it was a pretty special day,” said Barbee.
The Jackrabbits even got to take part in a full run-through of the network’s pregame show, with Tony Dungy, Drew Brees, and Rodney Harrison, who signed autographs and took pictures with the kids. Barbee said it was eye-opening for his kids how much work goes into a television broadcast.
“These are all once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, to get to see these kids and spend time with them is priceless,” he said. “I’m truly blessed to be a part of this program.”
It was an especially special day for Poly senior Donovan Poe, who has signed to play college football for Army. Poe and his family are huge Rams fans, and he got to use a locker in the Rams’ locker room, and then to play the role of Cam Akers and Von Miller in the simulated game.
“I’m tired, I feel like I played an entire game,” said Poe, a defensive lineman for Poly this season. “I had like 300 rushing yards. I was a tourist out there, I took a photo of every little corner, it was so surreal. I wasn’t trying to leave when it’s over I wanted stay forever. This is what we dream about, running out of that tunnel with the music going. It was good to visualize what that’s like, and hopefully I’ll be back in a few years.”
Barbee said the NBC broadcast crew was impressed with his team, and Dungy took to Twitter Sunday to thank the Jackrabbits for helping them prepare for the big game.
“They were very appreciative and complimentary and I know it meant a lot to me and all the kids, and they were making plays during the game,” said Barbee. “We had bowling pin celebrations, guys doing flips into the end zone, all kinds of fun stuff.”
#FUNKHOUSE🐇🏈 on Twitter: “A little @LBPoly_Football spotlight @SuperBowl @SoFiStadium ..1600 Atlantic to the @NFL the road most traveled. pic.twitter.com/R4eYedhRIt / Twitter”
A little @LBPoly_Football spotlight @SuperBowl @SoFiStadium ..1600 Atlantic to the @NFL the road most traveled. pic.twitter.com/R4eYedhRIt
Tony Dungy on Twitter: “A big thank you to the Long Beach Poly HS football team for helping us tape a demo for the Super Bowl pregame show. We break down the matchup between the Bengals skill position players & the Rams coverage unit. It should be a very informative piece for the viewers. Thanks guys! pic.twitter.com/GaHXPxwUKq / Twitter”
A big thank you to the Long Beach Poly HS football team for helping us tape a demo for the Super Bowl pregame show. We break down the matchup between the Bengals skill position players & the Rams coverage unit. It should be a very informative piece for the viewers.