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0126-SUPERBOWL.mp3

This year, the team representing the AFC on the field in Super Bowl XLIX won't be the only part of the big game that hails from New England. A local publishing company's work will be in the hands of thousands of fans at the stadium on Super Bowl Sunday.

When the final whistle blew in Foxboro last weekend, yet another Super Bowl trip was secured for the Pats — and the celebration began for millions of New Englanders. But for the folks at H.O. Zimman, a small publishing company in Lynn, it was time to go to work.

"We need to get the books bound as early as possible for distribution purposes," said Adam Scharff, associate publisher and vice president at H.O. Zimman. "So we literally are printing by midnight and then we're binding by 4:30 in the morning."

This 15-person, family-owned publisher is responsible for the NFL’s official Super Bowl program.

"I was telling people I was here and my primary responsibility was the Super Bowl and they said, 'What do you do the other 11 months of the year?'" said editor John Veneziano. "People don’t understand there’s a lot more than one month of work."

Veneziano writes, rewrites, edits or approves every page in the book — and there’s plenty to edit. The program is a thick, glossy magazine, chock full of stats, and the history of the game and the league. It’s, in part, a yearbook for the season that was. But most of its near-300 pages are dedicated to the two teams squaring off for the Lombardi trophy — and that’s the wrinkle. Until the last minute, nobody knows who those teams will be. As the playoffs get underway, the frenzy begins.

"We have extensive photography out for eight or twelve teams," Scharff said.

After the divisional round, it’s a furious week of writing, editing and designing.

"We work late into the night after those games, and start preparing them," Scharff said. "We get the photography ready, we start to edit the stories and design them and then prepare them all during that one week period."

On championship Sunday, they have spreads and articles near ready for all four teams still alive. They watch the games from the press — and when the final whistle blows, they go to print. This year’s comeback Seattle victory demonstrates the high-wire act they’re undertaking.

"I had the Green Bay pages as clean as it could be with about four minutes to go in the fourth quarter," Veneziano said. "And 45 minutes later they were in the trash."

Once printed, the programs are shipped to newsstands across the country and, more importantly, to the stadium for the game itself, where thousands of fans will pick up a copy. If you're not among the lucky few heading to Arizona for the big game, you can also grab a copy for yourself through their website.

The whole experience is a whirlwind these folks know well. They’ve been producing the Super Bowl program for the last 12 years. And they’ve been in the sports publishing business since their inception in the 1940s, when Harold Zimman and his wife Helen founded the company.

"We started publishing for the [United States Lawn Tennis Association] USLTA at the end of the 40s and we’re still in tennis, doing the U.S. Open Program," Scharff said.

It was their annual U.S. Open tennis program that put them on the NFL’s radar. Since snagging the Super Bowl gig, they’ve also added some of sports' most prestigious clients and events.

"We do tennis thorough the year," Scharff said. "We’re producing the Masters program for golf down in Augusta. We do work for the Baseball Hall of Fame, Football Hall of Fame, so we have our hands full."

And while they do non-sports programs too — like Boston’s annual flower show, and even President Barack Obama’s second inauguration — both and Scharff and Veneziano say there is something a little extra “super” about the Super Bowl.

"There is a lot of pride," Scharff said. "We have a great staff here. We do a good job and it’s nice to see that people get to have that in their hands. A program won’t wear out like a shirt. If you take good care of it this is something you’ll have for generations."

In a town that loves a good sports superstition, it’s worth noting that the Patriots have been in 5 of the 12 Super Bowl programs that H.O. Zimman has produced. And hey, even if the Pats don’t make it to the Promised Land again next year, you can rest assured that New England will still be a crucial part of Super Bowl 50.

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