2014. 02. 04. 12:29
‘The Big Picture,’ in Any Language
FEB. 3, 2014
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Oliver Hollai, a Hungarian announcer, tried to make sense of the Super Bowl. Todd Heisler/The New York Times
By RICHARD SANDOMIR
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Richard Farago was just moments into calling his 10th Super Bowl when Denver Broncos center Manny Ramirez’s snap flew over Peyton Manning.
“Ohhhh!” Farago shouted, before describing the rest of the play in Hungarian and tossing in the word “safety.” His surprised reaction to the errant snap, which was translated later, was, “Oh, my God, what a misunderstanding by Peyton Manning and his center.”
Soon after, Oliver Hollai, the analyst sitting beside Farago, added “free kick” during a broader comment. And as they watched a replay of the errant snap, they talked about the Broncos’ good fortune that they had surrendered 2 points, not 6.
The two Hungarians — Farago, 46, with short, spiky hair, and Hollai, 35, tall and blond — are longtime broadcast partners who maintained a consistent banter during the game.
“He’s the Pat Summerall of Hungary,” Hollai said.
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From the regular season through the Super Bowl, English is only one patois of N.F.L. broadcasting. The league’s games are seen in more than 100 countries, and the Super Bowl is watched in nearly 200. At MetLife Stadium, Sunday’s game was called (or reported) in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Danish, Russian, Spanish, Hungarian, Portuguese and the English spoken in Britain over a feed distributed by NFL Films.
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Farago fell in love with American football, and Joe Montana, at a Chiefs-Steelers game in 1993. He did not have anyone to call N.F.L. games for when he worked for the state broadcaster, but in 2004, he joined Sport1 in Budapest, which had acquired league rights.
Hollai spent five years living in Fort Lee, N.J., when his father’s banking work brought him to work at Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. Hollai became a Giants and a Mets fan — infatuations that continue to this day. Back in Hungary, Hollai had suggested only that Sport1 use his expertise in the language of the N.F.L. to help its broadcasts. But the network hired him as an analyst.
“They told me on a Friday that I would be working a game the next Tuesday,” he said.
On Sunday, those countries where the local language is not superimposed on the broadcast heard the Super Bowl call of Bob Papa, the play-by-play radio voice of the Giants, and Charles Davis, a veteran N.F.L. and college football analyst for Fox. Their mission was to offer a simpler version of the game — very little Jon Gruden and a lot of storytelling and explanations of plays to appeal to a broad international audience with a knowledge of football that ranges from novices to American expatriates.
“It’s about the big picture,” Davis said before the game.
They were light on statistics but slipped in definitions of touchbacks, coaches’ challenges and intentional grounding that Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman did not need to use. About the most complicated term that Davis used was “a route combination.”
Papa, who has called the world feed since 2008, said he was pleased when Americans around the world let him know they were watching his call of the Super Bowl. Last year, he got a text message from John Morgan, with whom Papa has called Olympic bobsledding for NBC, that he was watching the feed in Munich.
And during the two-minute warning before halftime, Papa turned to say he had just received a Twitter post from the Middle East. “Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods’s caddie, said they are watching in Dubai,” he said. Woods was competing at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Unlike the world-feed booth — with its stage manager, statistician and spotter — the Hungarian booth, above the south end zone, was austere. Farago and Hollai were on their own in a little structure they shared with French sportscasters.
Their notes were in Hungarian (the national anthem was “himnusz”) and English. Their game-calling was peppered with a football glossary, with some words that have no equivalent in Hungarian, like punt, blitz, touchdown, A.F.C., N.F.C. and cover-2.
But in Hungary, with the growth of club football and rising ratings for the Super Bowl, Farago and Hollai use Hungarian for first down (elso kiserlet), catch (elkapas), field goal (mezonygol) and quarterback (iranyito).
Yet their approach is as familiar to fans as any sports broadcasting team’s. Farago’s voice rose and fell at the right moments. Hollai stepped in when he was needed and did not lack for extensive explanations. Farago grew especially excited when Seattle’s Malcolm Smith intercepted a pass (“passz” in Hungarian) by Manning and returned it for a touchdown.
And even if the average American football fan is attuned to games being called in English, there is something refreshing about hearing names like Kam Chancellor, Knowshon Moreno and Percy Harvin pronounced in Hungarian accents.
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