Joel Meyers and Sean Kelley might as well remove their headsets.
When the clock rolls around to 3:40 p.m. on Sunday, Meyers and Kelley know televisions and radios across Louisiana won’t be tuned to their broadcast of the New Orleans Pelicans’ matchup against the New York Knicks.
Instead, the pair of announcers are keenly aware the entire region will be locked into the Saints’ divisional playoff battle kicking off in Minneapolis.
“They created DVR for a reason,” said Meyers, the Pelicans’ television voice. “Let’s face it, the heartbeat of the city is the Saints. There’s a 50-year bond and I’ve never seen a relationship as good as this city has with the Saints, which is really healthy. And it’s built up over generations, and they’ve gone through the tough times and now they’re enjoying the good times.
“So, I expect everybody to watch their game. I mean, it’s Saints Day. We just want the Saints to get the victory, so they can play for the NFC Championship next week.”
Considering the Saints drew a 55.1 local TV rating last week (the highest number posted in more than a year), with 75 percent of all active televisions in the area tuned into WVUE’s telecast of their win over the Carolina Panthers, it’s not a stretch to say “everyone” will be watching.
While the timing doesn’t run precisely parallel, with the Pelicans’ tipping off in Madison Square Garden at 2:30 p.m., the games will surely overlap, ensuring the Pelicans will be playing in partial anonymity.
“I’d like to just have the full attention of New Orleans’ sports fans from 2:30 until about 3:38 p.m.,” said Kelley, whose radio broadcast airs on 99.5 WRNO FM. “And if you want to check in during commercials, we’ll be there for you. But, believe me, we get it.”
While it may mean minuscule television ratings for Fox Sports New Orleans, it’s not of great concern to the Pelicans, who share ownership, executives and a parking lot on Airline Drive with the sibling Saints.
And coach Alvin Gentry even has a solution for those fans of both teams, who are invested in both games.
“We’ll just dominate,” Gentry said, joking he hoped the game would be over by halftime. “No, but obviously it’s a huge, huge game for everybody in this city who followed the Saints since their inception here. It’s an opportunity to be one game away from the Super Bowl and they’re going to get a big, big audience.
“Even us, we are going to wonder what’s going on there, too. We still have 41 left, so we understand that situation. We understand. It’s not a competition to see who is going to watch our game or theirs. People will tune into the Saints and we understand that.
“It’s our job to put a product on the floor that come April, they’re watching us in the playoffs.”
For the announcers' part, Meyers and Kelley said nothing in their presentations will change. Even though each know they may be speaking to a handful of Pelicans’ friends, family and DVRers only, the broadcast won’t be compromised.
They’ll still do typical pregame prep and carry loads of notes to their desks, calling the action as if it’s any other game. However, when the buzzer sounds, all bets are off.
“I’ll probably set a land speed record for exiting Madison Square Garden and finding the closest sports bar to watch the Saints,” Kelley said.
And Meyers even admits, on occasion, his eyes will be doing some rarely experienced gymnastics while overlooking the court in midtown Manhattan.
“It’s easy to keep up with everything now, because of the phones,” Meyers said. “So, one eye is going to be on the floor and the other will be on my phone, because that’s how much I want the Saints to win and advance.
“I genuinely hope everybody DVRs the game, and then after the Saints win, they tune into our game and find out we won, too. That would be a perfect Sunday."