Al Michaels, John Madden and Cris Collinsworth will call Sunday night's Packers-Cowboys showdown at Lambeau Field, and on Thursday, they took part in a conference call to hype a matchup that really needs no hype.
Green Bay and Dallas, the most popular teams in the country, are 2-0. Add Aaron Rodgers' strong start as the heir to Brett Favre, and Michaels called it a "perfect Week 3 scenario, the first night of autumn at Lambeau Field, I just think this is the perfect confluence."
Madden, calling Lambeau Field his favorite NFL venue, added that he's a "big believer in games that sound like games. There's something when you say Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, this is just a game. It's one you look forward to."
The battle at quarterback between Rodgers and the Cowboys' Tony Romo will be a central story line to the game, and all three broadcasters are impressed by what Rodgers has produced in his first two NFL starts.
"The way he throws the ball, he can move in the pocket, he can do all of those things that a top quarterback has to do, and Tony Romo is the same way," Madden said. "They remind me of each other."
Collinsworth, part of the radio broadcast crew for the Packers' 37-27 loss at Dallas last season, said he expected Green Bay to get blown out once Rodgers replaced an injured Favre. Instead, Rodgers rallied the Packers in what Collinsworth called Rodgers' "coming-out party," and Rodgers has been almost flawless in his first two games as the starter.
"I'm not sure that Aaron Rodgers' family could have predicted what would have happened thus far with this football team," Collinsworth said. "There are moments when a guy is going to be given an opportunity to play, and that's nerve-wracking enough, but to follow a guy like Brett Favre in Green Bay, I can't imagine a scenario that's tougher to follow. Especially with what happened this offseason, where there was a debate where it was possible where he could have come back, where the organization and McCarthy and Thompson said, ‘No, we don't want him. This is our guy.' How much pressure could you possibly put on one young man, who really had not played in the NFL?
"Then on draft day, we watched him sit there for 25 picks as all the other teams and said, ‘No, we don't want him, either.' For him to come through in these first two games, I think is remarkable. I think it's one of the great stories I've seen."
In searching for a parallel, Madden said the best-case Favre-to-Rodgers transition was Steve Young replacing Joe Montana in San Francisco. Through two games, Rodgers has played every bit as good as Favre did last season.
"There's something with these guys that come in but they've been there for three years," Madden said, speaking for Rodgers as well as Romo, both of whom became starters during their fourth seasons. "They've been in meetings and they've watched film and they've watched games and they've studied and they've got their game in position, so when they get their chance, they were ready to go."
Asked to act as a general manager, Collinsworth and Madden were asked which quarterback they'd build their team around. Both said Romo because he's played at a high level through 28 starts compared to Rodgers' two.
Packers fans — and football fans around the nation, for that matter — are continuing to adjust to seeing someone other than Favre under center for Green Bay. It's no different for the NBC crew.
"You go to Chicago after Michael Jordan leaves; in hockey, the analogy would be when you went to Edmonton after (Wayne) Gretzky got traded to Los Angeles; Pete Rose leaves Cincinnati and goes to Philadelphia; it's probably along those lines," said Michaels, who credited Rodgers with the "classy" way he handled the Favre controversy.
"A guy builds up a tremendous currency with one team and becomes so affiliated with that team. Sure, it will be very different. That era is gone and the new era is here. It would have been a little different had Rodgers not gotten off to a good start and the Packers been 0-2 and Favre been 2-0 with the Jets, but that's not the case right now. So, I think the way the team has started has made it a little easier for the adjustment. Sure, it will be different to go in there and for the first time since the early 1990s to not see No. 4."
Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org