As Tom Brady was hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy in the air following the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, a Pittsburg State University graduate was coming out of the tunnel with a camera in tow for the shot.
Beth Hamilton-Ball, a sports producer and photographer for NBC News Channel, is heading back to North Carolina today after spending 10 days in Houston for “work.”
“I looked at my producer and said ‘man can you believe we are getting paid to do this,’” Hamilton-Ball said.
Hamilton-Ball was not the only Gorilla there. Ryan Bartlett, who — like Hamilton-Ball is a 2003 PSU graduate — was in Houston working as a producer for NFL Media.
Hamilton-Ball said she interviewed Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and players Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski — among others — and remembers one of Tom Brady’s teammates saying he would follow his quarterback ‘into the depths of hell.’”
The Patriots’ 19-point, fourth-quarter comeback brought Super Bowl LI into overtime with New England winning 34-28. The comeback and overtime are both records for a super bowl.
The PSU graduate watched three quarters from a booth then made her way down to the tunnel to run out on the field for post-game interviews. She would have been unaware of the fourth quarter comeback if not for Troy Comeau, her broadcasting professor at PSU.
Comeau kept his former student in the loop via live video on his phone.
Hamilton-Ball said her time shooting video for PSU’s Cable Access Pitt State or CAPS 13 helped her to where she is today.
Beginning in her freshman year, Hamilton-Ball said she shot video for PSU football, baseball as well as softball and basketball.
“Everywhere I go I am happy to tell people I went to Pitt State, and happy to wear to (PSU) stuff,” Hamilton-Ball said.
She’s also happy to share with Pitt State.
Hamilton-Ball and Bartlett shared a photo with the university, holding up a Pitt State Football T-Shirt which was then shared on social media.
Her job at NBC has taken Hamilton-Ball to three Olympic Games. Hamilton-Ball said the covering the games and the University of Kansas basketball team in the 2012 Final Four have been the biggest highlights of her career, so far.
Bartlettpinpointed the highlight of his career and the event to when the national anthem was being sung and he was standing behind the Atlanta Falcons’ bench.
“I remember being at Pitt state dreaming of being at a super bowl,” he said. “It was tough to stay professional. The football fan inside of me wanted to geek out.”
Bartlett was setting up the Patriots’ press conference room and watching from a TV as New England pulled off the upset. Bartlett said he fondly remembers Bennett’s father wearing a T-Shirt that said “Daddy Bennett” and LeGarrette Blount crying while he hugged his mom.
During his time at PSU, Bartlett also worked at CAPS 13 and as a sideline reporter for Pitt State games. With NFL Media, Bartlett said he helped launch the shows such as “Eternal Redzone” and produces other NFL shows. But, he will never forget his time in Houston for Super Bowl LI.
“I saw the best comeback ever from best quarterback ever,” Bartlett said. “And at the best super bowl ever.”
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.