By Tim Graham
NEW ORLEANS -- Steve Tasker was supposed to report on a football game and found himself covering a news event Sunday night at Super Bowl XLVII.
A Superdome power outage delayed the championship game for about 35 minutes in the third quarter. While the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers milled about in the darkness and the world wondered what was happening, Tasker was the first member of the CBS Sports crew to have a live microphone and communication with the production truck.
A sideline sound technician gave Tasker a working earpiece. Before the Buffalo Bills Wall of Famer knew it, the telecast was returning from a commercial break, and executive producer Lance Barrow was in his ear.
"It was pretty cool to be a part of," Tasker told me, "even though it makes you want to choke.
"He told me I was taking it out of commercial. He told me, 'Tell us what you know. Reset the game. Tell us where we're at, and then we'll go back to commercial.' "
Five, four, three, two ...
"I wasn't even on camera," Tasker said. "We didn't have operational cameras on my side of the stadium. The first thing I wanted people to know was that we were safe and sound. I didn't want any panic. I wanted to calm everybody."
The second time the telecast went to Tasker out of a commercial break, he was able to introduce the other sideline reporter, Solomon Wilcots. By then, the CBS Sports studio announcers had regained power and took over the broadcast while getting field reports from Tasker and Wilcots until the game resumed.
"It's certainly not what anybody expected to have happen," Tasker said. "But we've got a lot of people that have done a lot of television, and nobody seemed flustered. We knew it was a moment we had to handle very well or we'd get killed for it.
"Lance Barrow and [director] Mike Arnold really hit it out of the park. The production people stayed calm and cool and kept working. I think we came off pretty well because of it."
Tasker, who played in four Super Bowls with the Bills, was working his third Super Bowl as a sideline reporter.
"It was disconcerting," Tasker said. "But there was nothing dangerous going on, and the crowd handled it extremely well. It was good to see, and I'm glad we got through it. I'm glad the game turned into a really, really good one."
taggedSteve Tasker | Super Bowl XLVII