Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has drawn favorable reviews from many of the biggest personalities in football on radio row this week in Fort Lauderdale.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. --Two words are synonymous with the annual frenzied media coverage that leads up to the Super Bowl: Radio row.
It's where sports radio stations from around the US and abroad gather to report on the Super Bowl and the events surrounding the big game. The stations interview famous sports and entertainment figures who are in town for the Super Bowl, making radio row the epicenter of media activity during the week.
"Radio row is a shopping mall of the biggest names in pro football meeting the top stations and networks in the country," Marc Vandermeer of SportsRadio 610 AM said. "The Super Bowl may be Sunday, but to people in sports talk radio, it's Monday through Friday."
"It's a media orgy," said John Lopez, Vandermeer's co-host on the SR610 morning show. "The event of the year for people in this business."
The Texans' flagship radio station, SportsRadio 610 has been broadcasting live from radio row all week. Hosts Vandermeer and Lopez (6-10 a.m. CT), Josh Innes (10-11) and Rich Lord and Robert Henslee (2-7 p.m.) have met with the likes of Texans linebacker Brian Cushing and wide receiver Jacoby Jones at radio row. They've also put a Texans twist on interviews with guests such as Jerry Rice, Lynn Swann, Mercury Morris, Chad Ochocinco, Derrick Brooks, Adam Schefter, Mike Florio, Gil Brandt and Archie Manning.
Those names are just the tip of the iceberg of the 50-plus personalities SR610 has interviewed since Monday.
"This week has been the craziest I've ever had in the business, and I've been in the business since 1997," SR610 producer Chris Jones said. "It's amazing, it's a whirlwind. I've never seen this amount of famous football players, athletes in general, movie stars, in one place. Everywhere you turn, you see someone famous."
Many of the guests have heaped praise on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and the improving Texans defense. Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theissman said Schaub, the Pro Bowl MVP, is "98 percent" on his way to being an elite quarterback. Hall of Fame defensive lineman Deacon Jones, who demonstrated a head slap on Innes during his interview, also spoke glowingly of Texans defensive end Mario Williams. New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez spoke at length about rooming with Cushing at USC.
"The overall consensus is this is a team on the rise and they have all the tools to do well, and I think we all feel that way," Vandermeer said of the Texans. "We just want to see what happens next year when they face what appears to be a tougher schedule and see how they handle it."
This season, the Texans went to-toe-toe twice with their toughest opponent, the Super-Bowl bound Indianapolis Colts. In a four-week span, they lost to the eventual AFC champions by a combined 11 points. The Texans lost by three at Indy after missing a 42-yard field goal as time expired, and they lost by eight in Houston after seeing a 13-point halftime lead disappear.
"I think it says a lot about the Texans," Vandermeer said. "But the fact that they couldn't get it done is still something that's tough to swallow, because they see the Colts in the Super Bowl and they know they can play with them. They know that they can compete with them. They know that they are capable of beating them.
"But a lot of teams in the NFL feel that way because of the way the Colts handled their schedule. The Colts played a lot of close games. They had all those fourth-quarter comebacks. So there are a lot of teams that feel like they had a great shot at the Colts but they couldn't get it done, and so now they're looking at all the X-factors, and the one major X-factor, of course, is number 18."
Vandermeer, who has called the Texans' games for SR610 since the team started playing in 2002, thinks that number 18 – Peyton Manning – will lead the Colts to a Super Bowl victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
"I think it's going to be the kind of game where the quarterback that makes the big mistake in the fourth quarter is going to lose the game – either an incompletion or an interception or maybe holding the ball too long and somehow, somebody gets a sack/fumble," Vandermeer said.
"I won't rule out the Saints being able to do something like that, because Bobby McCray is capable of making a play like that. Just look at their pass rush against Minnesota. I'm not saying they're going to get the same kind of physical attack on Peyton Manning, but they are capable of being at the very least disruptive and they are capable of winning this game.
"But I do see the Colts prevailing, and I do ultimately think it's going to be about a touchdown victory for them."
SportsRadio 610's action-packed week at radio row will end on Friday. They'll have guests Leon Searcy, Texans wide receiver David Anderson, Miss Florida Megan Clementi, Jason Whitlock and more surprises throughout the day. Coverage from SR610's week in South Florida can be accessed in podcasts and blogs on the stations website, SportsRadio610.com.