|Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay Date: Sunday, 7 February Begin: 23:30 GMT|
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It has been a season like no different within the NFL, but it’s going to have a well-recognized ending – with Tom Brady taking part in within the Tremendous Bowl.
The evergreen quarterback has already gained a document six Tremendous Bowls however in his first season away from the New England Patriots, he has reached the NFL showpiece for the tenth time in his 21-year profession.
For the primary time in NFL historical past, the quarterbacks who gained the final two Tremendous Bowls will meet within the newest version as Brady faces Patrick Mahomes, who led the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs to victory final 12 months.
What’s extra, Brady has helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn out to be the first staff to host a Tremendous Bowl in their very own stadium.
So whereas coronavirus restrictions imply Tremendous Bowl 55 will see the massive sport’s lowest crowd and lack the standard razzmatazz, the anticipation remains to be constructing in Tampa.
What’s totally different with this 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl?
Tremendous Bowl week usually begins with airport picture alternatives because the groups arrive within the host metropolis, adopted by Opening Night time – a media extravaganza the place reporters from across the globe communicate with gamers and coaches in a packed area.
Beforehand, Brady has needed to area a wedding proposal from an interviewer carrying a marriage costume and brought questions from somebody carrying a Brady masks, however this 12 months the interviews have been carried out by way of video conferences.
“How come I do not get to see them in any respect, how come I simply get to see me?” stated Brady. “It is a loopy media day. I am sitting right here in an empty room.”
There would often be concert events and week-long events for followers, however this 12 months the official festivities have been restricted to the Tremendous Bowl Expertise – an interactive soccer theme park which was totally booked earlier than Tremendous Bowl week.
Each groups have been in a position to put together at residence, with the Bucs having fun with the luxurious of avoiding any long-distance journey. The Chiefs, who educated indoors on Thursday because of snow in Missouri, will arrive on Saturday and fly out straight after the sport.
What number of followers will likely be on the Tremendous Bowl?
All NFL stadiums have been empty or working at lowered capability this season and since October, a restricted variety of followers have been allowed at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, which holds 65,890.
On Sunday it’s going to characteristic 30,000 cut-outs and 25,000 followers, together with 7,500 vaccinated healthcare employees who’ve acquired free tickets.
Tampa Bay gamers will likely be accustomed to the turf and facility however in a bid to neutralise the location, all Buccaneers signage has been lined by Tremendous Bowl livery.
The stadium additionally boasts a pirate ship at one finish zone, with cannons that historically hearth each time the Bucs rating, however the one time they’re allowed to fireside on Sunday is when the Bucs are launched earlier than the sport.
‘After the 12 months we have had, persons are glad to have one thing to rejoice’
Blaire Toedte, BBC World Service Sport, in Tampa
This 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl is a a lot quieter, scaled-back affair, and is missing the glitz and glamour that has turn out to be anticipated from the USA’ largest sporting occasion, an event that’s on a par with Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Whereas some have solely needed to journey just a few blocks from their properties in Tampa, others have made the journey from Kansas Metropolis, and there is a respectable displaying of Chiefs followers.
Regardless of the pandemic, there’s nonetheless lots of pleasure right here and loads of followers to be seen alongside Tampa Riverwalk, with locals screaming “Go Bucs”. Individuals are asking to speak to me versus me asking to interview them.
Many followers say they’re grateful to have the ability to see this occasion come to fruition. For a lot of, this can be a mild amid a tough 12 months.
Who’s performing the half-time present?
This 12 months the coveted half-time present will likely be carried out by Canadian singer The Weeknd, whose largest hit was Blinding Lights in 2019.
About 104m watched Shakira and Jennifer Lopez carry out final 12 months’s half-time present, however this 12 months there will not be 1000’s of staffers pouring onto the sphere to assemble the stage, adopted by tons of of invited followers.
The Weeknd could set foot on the sphere throughout his present, however in any other case it’s going to all happen on a stage constructed within the stands.
There’ll nonetheless be 1.42bn rooster wings eaten within the US on Sunday, predicts the Nationwide Rooster Council, with a 30-second tv commercial reportedly costing $5.5m (£4m).
What well being and security measures will there be?
The NFL is offering all spectators with PPE kits on arrival on the stadium, and mask-wearing will likely be necessary for followers, gamers and staff employees.
Bars and eating places are open in Tampa however Florida state tips advise residents to put on face coverings in public and preserve a six-foot distance, whereas followers have been requested to maintain gatherings small.
Two Chiefs gamers have been positioned on the reserve/Covid checklist final Sunday after the staff organized hair appointments for gamers and employees and the barber acquired a constructive check consequence – mid-cut.
Centre Daniel Kilgore insisted he completed the minimize, however he and huge receiver Demarcus Robinson should check unfavourable for 5 straight days earlier than rejoining staff actions.
The Tremendous Bowl’s first feminine official
Sarah Thomas will turn out to be the primary lady to officiate in a Tremendous Bowl, six years after turning into the NFL’s first full-time feminine official.
The 47-year-old from Mississippi would be the down decide in Tampa, whereas the Bucs may have two feminine coaches – assistant line of defense coach Lori Locust and assistant energy and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar.
Earlier this season, Thomas featured within the first NFL sport with feminine coaches on opposing sidelines and a feminine official.