The NFL On FOX’s Production Truck Has Journeyed More Than 27,000 Miles

FOX’s production truck was the command center for the wild-card playoff game between the Green Bay … [+] Packers and Dallas Cowboys.

FOX Sports

Cruise down the interstate during football season and you just might see the NFL on FOX’s command center.

Essential to the broadcast and where most of the crew work during games, three production trucks — which are each more than 50 feet in length, weigh nearly 80,000 pounds and have myriad wires, cable and servers — hit the road each week.

“It’s essentially a data center on wheels,” said Mike Davies, FOX Sports’ executive vice president of field and technical operations. “It’s just a monster computer really, rolling down the highway.”

That data center — or the Encore truck — was built by Game Creek Video, a company owned by former New England Patriots general manager Pat Sullivan.

Encore serves as the production trucks for major NFL on FOX games, including Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, and previously was the hub for four Super Bowls, five Major League Baseball All-Star Games, four U.S. Opens and other signature broadcasts that drew wide audiences for FOX.

“About a billion eyeballs in its years,” Davies said.

Encore was on hand for the wild-card game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys and the Packers-San Francisco 49ers divisional game that each drew more than 40 million viewers.

Despite all of those eyeballs, the trucks themselves are pretty anonymous. There’s no NFL on FOX signage.

“We’ve never really seen too much of a benefit for doing that,” Davies said. “Our trucks are pretty incognito.”

However, when Encore driver Jim Gove stops for gas or settles into his hotel, the sheer size of the Encore fleet will draw looks of awe.

Because of the heavy cargo, each of the three 53-foot, expanding-side, high-definition production units has nearly the maximum truck weight allowed on roads.

The trucks are labeled A, B and C. The A truck, which is driven by Walter Bowles, has the “brains” or audio, video and two multi-purpose editing rooms. B, which Gove drives, has production and graphics and is the biggest truck because it has to have room to seat 30 people on gameday, including the producer and director. Robert Joers drives C, and that houses replay, maintenance and storage.

“The trucks themselves,” Davies said, “need to carry along everything you need to do a show.”

Truck driver Jim Gove (left) and FOX Sports executive Mike Davies (right) pose in front of one of … [+] the Encore production trucks.

Ife Moore/FOX Sports

Because of the magnitude of the vehicles, when Gove stops, onlookers often ask what he does and where he’s going. They come away impressed.

“Everybody thinks that we have a fun, easy job,” Gove said. “It is fun; it is not easy getting these trucks from Point A to Point B just because they’re so heavy and they’re so valuable that we have to be very careful. And if we don’t get there, the show’s not going to go on.”

Indeed, these are often arduous treks.

Heading into the NFC Championship Game, those trucks have driven more than 27,000 miles. Their longest trip was from Week 13 to Week 14 when they drove 2,920 miles from Philadelphia (for 49ers at Eagles) to San Francisco (for Seattle Seahawks at 49ers).

Truck drivers are mandated to take 10 hours off. So on those long, cross-country trips, often there are two drivers per vehicle, and one will sleep when the other is driving, allowing them to drive through the day and night.

And the trips aren’t always seamless. Blown tires — or worse — can happen along the way.

When Gove was leaving the New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in Week 17 for Dallas Cowboys at the Washington Commanders in Week 18, his truck had an axle issue in Savannah, Ga. on New Year’s Day, which delayed him 26 hours.

“Fortunately, we had a short enough trip, where it didn’t affect anything,” Gove said. “But a longer trip, we would’ve had to scramble.”

Last year’s NFC Championship Game meant encountering severe weather while leaving frigid Philadelphia en route to Arizona’s warm desert for Super Bowl LVII.

“We drove,” Gove said, “350, 400 miles on the ice. So it was a little stressful.”

The NFL on FOX crew in the production truck readies for its wild-card game.

FOX Sports

Encore — named because it’s the second series of Game Creek trucks FOX has used — has to arrive at the stadium two days ahead (or Friday morning for a Sunday game) of time.

And the trucks depart three or four hours after a game, which is the amount of time it takes the crew to remove cables, microphones, etc.

“They put their gloves on,” Davies said, “and they pull everything out and they pack everything up.”

And then it’s pretty much on to the next destination. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But despite the thousands of miles the Encore trucks traveled this year, this postseason featured a rare instance.

Because both of FOX’s divisional round and NFC Championship Game games were at the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, Encore was able to stay put.

After Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, FOX, which has used Encore since 2016, likely will next need the Encore trucks for the Big East Tournament.

That event is one of the most challenging for Gove because he must navigate the crowded streets of New York City to Madison Square Garden.

Often called the mecca of basketball, the Garden is perhaps the world’s most prominent arena.

But behind the scenes and in the shadows, the Encore production trucks are responsible for the broadcast.

“It just loves being by loading docks and dumpsters,” Davies said, “and doing some of America’s biggest sporting events.”

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