Though things look very different this year, people are still eagerly anticipating the five hour spectacle that will be pasted on televisions worldwide Feb. 7.
The Kansas City Chiefs made their way to the Super Bowl, following their victory of the American Football Conference title during the playoffs. They’re no strangers to the coveted event, as they won it last season. Returning for a second year in a row, the team has had a widely successful season, with 14 victories under their belts. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II is a strong contender for this season’s MVP.
On the other side of the stadium, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make a surprise appearance. In the history of the NFL, this team has only made one other appearance back in 2002. Commentators speculate their best weapon is former New England Patriots star Tom Brady, who, after serving a 20 year tenure with them, signed on to a two-year contract with the Buccaneers in March of last year.
They’re often regarded as this season’s underdogs, currently sitting at 11-5. During the National Football Conference playoffs, they beat out the Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers.
The excitement is real.
“I’m rooting for the Buccaneers because they’re the lesser of two evils,” said sophomore Charlie Buttler. “Even though I don’t love the idea of Tom Brady winning another Super Bowl, the Chiefs are going to be a contender for the next 10 years. I would much rather they do not win back-to-back championships considering their bright future.”
These teams met on the field earlier this season, with a close game of 27-24, Buccs pulling through thanks to Tom Brady’s magic. He will be the first player to make 10 Super Bowl appearances.
Super Bowl Sunday will be held on the Buccaneer’s home turf at Raymond James Stadium. The arena held the Super Bowl back in 2000 and 2008, but this will be the first season where it will host the home team.
Much controversy was held over this year’s halftime performance. The Weeknd — one of 2020’s biggest, brightest artists — was intended to perform at both the Super Bowl and The Grammys Award Ceremony in consecutive weekends. According to an industry insider, there was much negotiation held between the Recording Academy and The Weeknd’s team to determine if he could perform at both, not just the Grammys.
This deal is what many suspect lead to his eventual blacklisting and snubbing at the upcoming ceremony.
2020’s season has looked much different than past ones. Due to the nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many new regulations have been put in place. Originally, the NFL outlined a regular and an intensive protocol for teams — intensive reserved for teams that had been exposed to the virus.
On Oct.1, however, all teams began operating under intense protocol. This was done as a way to further reduce close contacts.
“Recent experience has highlighted the importance of minimizing high-risk close contacts; on multiple occasions, we have seen individuals identified on that basis test positive within a short time," stated NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a memo to the teams in November. "We have also seen many instances in which effective action by clubs to minimize these close contacts prevented the virus from spreading within the club, and avoided players or coaches being ruled out of practice or games.”
This more extreme protocol mandates virtual meetings (unless they can be held outdoors), grab-n-go style meals, face masks to be worn at all times and negative tests before entering facilities. In addition to this, certain stadiums announced limited seating for certain games. Many games were held without fans in the stands.
“While it did not affect the viewing very much because fans aren’t often shown, it clearly took a visible effect on the players and the atmosphere of the games which was disappointing,” said sophomore Jeremiah Guest.
These rules will hold true on Super Bowl Sunday; James Raymond announced on Jan. 22 that 22,000 fans will be allowed to spectate in-person. Everyone else will have to view the event from the comfort of their own homes — for Zags, their dorms and apartments.