On Super Bowl Sunday, we’re expected to set real life aside.
There’s no time for parenting, pets or pragmatic chores. We’re supposed to focus on football, plus commercials, music (shown here with Rihanna) and more.
With that in mind, here’s a guide for the casual viewer. At the end, we’ll include some alternatives.
That’s 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday (Feb. 12) on Fox, in a match-up of similar teams.
Each had a 14-3 record during the regular season; each was the highest-scoring team in its conference. The Kansas City Chiefs averaged a 29-22 victory; the Philadelphia Eagles averaged 28-20.
And each has a young quarterback – Patrick Mahomes, 27, for the Chiefs, Jalen Hurts, 24, for the Eagles. The difference is that Mahomes has been here before.
Three years ago, he took the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl in 50 years, beating the 49ers, 31-20. The next season, he was back but sputtering (two interceptions, three sacks, no touchdowns), losing to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs, 31-9. Now, after a one-year gap, he gets his third try.
In that first one, Mahomes became the youngest most-valuable-player in Super Bowl history. Hurts can’t take that away; on game day, he’ll be 51 days older than Mahomes was.
THE BROADCAST BOOTH
Kevin Burkhardt will be doing the play-by-play, with Greg Olsen as analyst. It’s the first Super Bowl for both … and maybe last for Olsen.
Fox had expected to keep its top duo — Joe Buck play-by-play, Troy Aikman analyst. Last March, however, those two signed a mega-deal with ESPN. That elevated Burkhardt and Olsen to the top, at least for this season; Fox has already signed Brady for the future.
TV may prefer star quarterbacks – Aikman, Brady, CBS’ Tony Romo – but Fox also has a thing for tight ends: Shannon Sharpe and Rob Gronkowski are in the pre-game marathon, leading into Olsen.
(It’s rare for a tight end to have a 1,000-yard seasons, but Gronkowski did it four times; Sharpe and Olsen each did three. Only Olsen did it in three consecutive years, with an injury then slowing him.)
Meanwhile, Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi will be on the sidelines. It’s her fourth Super Bowl.
Rihanna performs, with lots of songs to choose from – including 14 that hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart and 31 in the top-10.
She could easily work alone, but the show – produced by Jay-Z – might add guest stars.
A native of Barbados, Rihanna will be making her first live performance in more than five years. However, there are plans for a tour, including more stadiums.
Country star Chris Stapleton will sing the National Anthem and Babyface will do “America the Beautiful.”
Also, Sheryl Lee Ralph will do “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is sometimes called the Black National Anthem. These days, she’s known as an Emmy-winner on “Abbott Elementary”; four decades ago, however, she was a Tony-nominee in the powerhouse Broadway musical “Dreamgirls.”
AFTER THE GAME
Once the trophy is handed out (about 10:30 p.m. ET), Fox has the season-opener of “Next Level Chef.”
That’s a Gordon Ramsay show based around an imposing, vertical set. One time, a contestant might be working at the top, with gleaming equipment and ideal ingredients. The next, he or she could be in the middle … or surviving on the bottom, with tawdry supplies.
This all starts at 11 a.m. ET – a mere seven-and-a-half hours before kick-off. That’s when Skip Bayless and Sharpe have a transplanted version of :Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.”
At noon is “Road to the Super Bowl,” the sleek annual production of NFL Films. And at 1, the marathon pre-game show starts.
Curt Menefee hosts, with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson and more, including Gronkowski.
Most channels avoid throwing anything big against the Super Bowl. This is a night for axe throwing (ESPN), a dog show rerun (Fox Sports1) and Shirley Temple films (Turner Classic Movies).
Many shows settle for reruns, but there are exceptions. HBO continues its much-praised zombie-survival tale, “The Last of Us,” at 9 p.m. Showtime has “Your Honor” at 9 and the mid-section of “Murder in Big Horn,” a jolting, three-week documentary, at 10.
Then there’s PBS, cheerily oblivious to even the Super Bowl. The season-finales of two mysteries – a fun “Miss Scarlet and the Duke” at 8 p.m. and the grim “Vienna Blood” at 10 – sandwich a quietly moving 9 p.m. episode of “All Creatures Great and Small.”
Then there’s the notion of countering football with cuteness overload.
Turner Classic Movies (which has “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” at 5:30 p.m. ET), takes that to the extreme with a Shirley Temple double feature. It’s “Curly Top” (1935) at 8 p.m. and “Wee Willie Winkie” (1937) at 9:30.
Meanwhile, Animal Planet has the 19th edition of its “Puppy Bowl.” That’s at 2 p.m., rerunning at 5, 8 and midnight, with a “pre-game show” at 1 and 11 p.m. the first show (2-5 p.m.) is also on Discovery, TBS, Discovery+ and HBO Max.
Hallmark has dropped out of the puppy/kitty field, but some of its former people are now at Great American Family (formerly Great American Country). They have “Rescue Bowl” at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET (7:30 s.m. and 1 p.m. PT), sandwiching a four-hour “Pup-A-Thon” fundraiser for animal shelters and rescue groups, at noon ET.