For sports fans, TV viewers and other humans, this will be too much – WAY too much – of a good thing.
It will be Super Bowl Sunday AND the Olympics. NBC will have quarterbacks, speedskaters, rappers (including Kendrick Lamar, shown here), linebackers, gospel singers, ice dancers, a country star and commercials. Lots of commercials.
It will also have hours of people talking about football … at the same time that a sister channel (the USA Network) ranges from the dazzle of freestyle skiing to the non-dazzle of curling.
It’s a busy blur for viewers … and a busier one for Mike Tirico, who anchors the Olympic in Beijing and does play-by-play of the Super Bowl in Inglewood, Cal. Here’s a guide to the day (Feb.13); times are ET and, except where noted, shows are on NBC:
There’s time to squeeze in some Olympics before the football fans wake up.
That’s from 8 a.m. to noon. There’s coverage (life and taped) of speedskating, plus taped coverage of the qualifying rounds of the aerials for women’s freestyle skiing.
AFTERNOON: Football talk.
At noon is “Road to the Super Bowl,” the slickly edited NFL Films hour.
And at 1 p.m., the marathon pre-game show – five hours of talk and clips and such – begins.
GAME TIME (almost)
At 6 p.m., coverage moves to the stadium, with Tirico, Cris Collinsworth and lots of music. Much of it will reflect the National Football League’s belated interest in diversity.
Singing the National Anthem will be Mickey Guyton, 38, who’s part of a small surge of Black country stars. “American the Beautiful” will be sung by Jhene Aiko, 33, who is diversity personified. Her roots are Spanish, Japanese, Black and more; she started as a vocalist for rap groups, then moved into R&B, getting six Grammy nominations.
Also included will be “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which – 105 years ago – the NAACP called “the Negro National Anthem.” Last season, after the George Floyd protests, the NFL included an Alicia Keys rendition in pre-game events, including the Super Bowl. This year, it will be sung by Mary Mary – the Inglewood sisters, 49 and 47, whose gospel music has won seven Dove awards and two Grammys.
NOW, THE GAME
Kick-off is at 6:30 p.m., with a fresh look.
There’s no more Tom Brady; instead, we have quarterbacks with opposite pasts: In his first 12 seasons, Matthew Stafford never won a play-off game; in his second season, Joe Burrow has won three straight.
During those dozen seasons with the Detroit Lions, Stafford (who turned 34 on Feb. 7) won 74, lost 90 and tied one; in the play-offs, he was 0-3. Then he demanded to be traded; with the Rams this year, he was 12-5 and won three playoff games – including Brady’s final game for the Bucs and a 13-point fourth-quarter comeback against the 49ers.
Burrow, 25, came to the Bengals as the top draft choice, after they finished 2019 with a 2-14 record. They were 4-11-1 his first season, then leaped to 10-7 this year, followed by those three play-off wins – each with a crucial Bengals interception.
The first was with two seconds left, on the goal line, sealing a 26-19 win over the Raiders … The second was near mid-field, with 20 seconds left and the Titans pushing for a game-winning field goal; instead, Burrows completed one pass and Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard game-winner … The third was at the start of the overtime against the Chiefs; three first downs later, McPherson kicked a 31-yarder.
Now we see if there’s another such swipe. During the regular season, Stafford had the NFL’s third-most passing yards, but also threw the most interceptions.
Since this is in Inglewood, the show reflects the impact of West Coast rap. Kendrick Lamar, 34, and Dr. Dre, 56, are from Compton and Snoop Dogg is from Long Beach – all within 15 miles of the stadium.
They’re joined by Eminem, 49, the Detroit rapper, and Mary J. Blige, 51, the New Yorker who has six Grammys in R&B, plus one apiece in gospel, pop and hip-hop vocals.
Yes, there will be a pause for people to wave a trophy and pour liquid on each other. But after that?
For 38 years, networks have followed the game with a show – sometimes a new one (“The A-Team,” “The Wonder Years”) or a reality show ready for a new season (“Survivor,” “The Voice”). Not this time.
Instead, NBC will rush back to the Olympics for the figure skating dance finals. That’s scheduled to start at 8:15 on the USA Network, with NBC taking over at about 10:45. It will be live, as will be women’s speedskating. Later, (12:30 to 2 a.m.) are women’s events in snowboarding and freestyle skiing.
The Olympics continue all day on USA, much of it live. That includes speedskating (6-8 a.m.), the start of the ice dancing finals (8:15 p.m.) and, later, the men’s snowboarding “big air” qualifying rounds (1:30 a.m.). It also includes hockey, with men (U.S.-Germany, 8 a.m.) and women (semi-finals, 11:10 p.m.).
In between is taped coverage, including speedskating, curling and the women’s freestyle qualifiers.
There’s always basketball, of course. On Super Bowl Sunday you can see the pros (Hawks-Celtics, 2 p.m., ABC) or college (Connecticut-St. Johns, noon, Fox; Nebraska-Iowa, 3 p.m., Fox Sports1).
And at night? Most networks have reruns, but PBS figures its people don’t watch football. It has a new “Around the World in 80 Days” at 8 p.m. and an excellent “All Creatures Great and Small” episodes at 9.
There are also plenty of movies, including “E.T.” (1982), at 8 and 10:30 p.m. on Sundance. It’s one of the all-time greats … but maybe not great enough to pry us from Super Bowl Sunday.