For most of us, Feb. 7 will merely be Super Sunday, a 12-hour blur (see schedule, under “news and quick comments”) of fuss and football, plus music, drama and catchy commercials.
But for Queen Latifah (whose “Equalizer” follows the game), it might be super-er or super-est or something.
“I am a huge, huge football fan …. I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting Super Bowls,” Latifah said of the 6:30 p.m. ET game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Some others seem to agree, especially because of the quarterback confrontation: Patrick Mahomes (shown here), 25, of the Chiefs, faces Tom Brady, 43, of the Bucs. “I think it’s going to be one of the great match-ups in history,” said Tony Romo, who will be in the CBS booth with Jim Nantz.
But for Latifah, there’s a bonus: After everything else – the marathon preview, the halftime show by The Weeknd, the game – her “The Equalizer” will premiere.
It fits, said Thom Sherman, CBS’ programming chief. It has a “larger-than-life hero with a diverse team, who bring unique skill sets, fighting for justice, crusading for the underdog.”
It should suit football fans … while being a sign of changing times. In previous versions, the “equalizers” were men – Edward Woodward in the series, Denzel Washington in two movies. Now Latifah – sports buff, former high school basketball player – takes over, wrapping up an unusual day.
For one thing, the stadium will be two-thirds empty. COVID rules restrict it to 22,000 fans.
For another, this is the first time in the 55-year history that a team is on its home field; by coincidence, the game was scheduled for Tampa, before the Bucs became the surprise conference champions.
Ordinarily, Nantz said, the tickets would be sold around the country, with no team getting an advantage. But this year, 7,500 go to first-responders nearby. “They’re going to be, in all likelihood, Bucs fans.”
Much of the coverage will be affected by COVID, he said. In a typical year, he and Romo would spend a week swirling between meetings and close-up conversations. This time “I don’t see Tony until he and I get in the booth – arriving in separate cars.”
But the networks have had all season to adjust, he said, finding long-range solutions. “You have graphics coming out of New Zealand, video replays coming out of people’s homes …. It couldn’t have been done 10 years ago.”
And occasionally, the change can be helpful. With fewer fans, said producer Harold Bryant, there’s more room for cameras. “We are having an opportunity to place cameras where we want to.”
There will be about 120 of them, he said, including a “trolley cam” zooming on a wire above the field. That will be anchored on about the eighth row … a spot that ordinarily would be taken by a fan.
There will be more such things, said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports. “We have all the bells and whistles …. It’s going to be an incredible technical showcase.”
But what really matters is what happens on the field. On one side are the Bucs and Brady – who is already 6-for-9 in Super Bowls; on the other are the Chiefs and Mahomes, who is 1-for-1.
It could be good … and if it’s not, there’s still “Th Equalizer,” wrapping Latifah’s super day