After two long weeks that focused on the weather (it's actually going to be relatively balmy), comments from Richard Sherman, the lack of same from Marshawn Lynch, the virtues of duck passes, Super Bowl Boulevard and the ebb and flow of ticket prices, it’s almost time for the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks to kick things off from MetLife Stadium.
Indeed, the NFL has put other business behind it – for now. The pro football league said it will debut a personalized video network, NFL Now, before next season. Executives declined to put a time frame – although many expect the decision to come down this week – about when it will announce a new broadcast partner as it tries to expand its Thursday night presence. Commissioner Roger Goodell talked about the league’s London calling and a push for two more playoff teams.
On Saturday, seven new members were voted into Pro Football Hall of Game, and the NFL handed out its 2013 season awards.
New York Giants defensive end turned talk show host Michael Strahan is set to be inducted in Canton next summer, where he will be joined by Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks, Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones, receiver Andre Reed and defensive back Aeneas Williams, plus veteran selections defensive end Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy, the first punter to make the Hall.
Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy and New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson were named the top rookies for 2013, while San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers garnered Comeback Player of the Year laurels and Carolina’s Ron Rivera and Luke Kuechly were honored as coach and defensive player of the year, respectively. Yeah, and some guy named Manning, who likes to single out a certain Nebraska city during his signal calls, won his fifth MVP award.
With those pieces out of the way, the kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII, the league’s first (as it turns out not so) cold weather Roman numeral classic, is set for 6:25 p.m. (ET). For those like Bart Scott, who once famously said “can’t wait,” there is plenty of pigskin promotion and prognostication to get you through the day, which fittingly is Groundhog Day. For the record, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Sunday morning, forecasting six more weeks of winter, but to the NFL’s good fortune the latest snowstorm for the New York metro area isn’t supposed to arrive until after midnight and into Monday morning's commute.
Naturally, Fox, whose Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call the Big Game, is all over the action. Fox Deportes will offer the first-ever Spanish-language presentation of the NFL championship, with John Laguna, Francisco Rivera and Brady Poppinga on the mics. Both networks will stream the contest.
As for the lead-ins, rookie national cable network Fox Sports 1 will serve up three hours of Fox Super Bowl Kick-Off from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Starting at noon, Fox jumps into the mix with Road to the Super Bowl in which Andre Braugher takes viewers through the top moments of the 2013 season. Football America follows as fans of all stripes and walks of life answer the question, “Why do we love football?” From there, Super Bowls XLVIII Pregame will unspool from 2 p.m. until kickoff.
NBC, which will present Super Bowl XLIX from Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., has NHL action with the Detroit Reed Wings visiting Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, while cable service NBCSN has that other football on its dial: a healthy dose of Barclays Premier League soccer.
CBS, which will present Super Bowl L from Santa Clara, has its usual lineup of CBS News Sunday Morning (albeit football-focused)and Face the Nation. Come afternoon Black Rock will tip some college hoops, Michigan at Indiana and then drive the PGA Tour’s stop in Scottsdale. For its part, CBS Sports Network will deliver That Other Pregame Show from 10 a.m. to noon, before going college hardwood.
ESPN, which hopes to get into the playoff rotation should the NFL expand its postseason play, will present four hours of Sunday NFL Countdown from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In-house service NFL Network is on the case all day. After a one-hour look at best Super Bowl commercials at 6 a.m., NFL GameDay First is first from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. NFL GameDay Morning runs from 9 a.m. until to 5:30 p.m. All-time wideout and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice is the subject of A Football Life until 6:30 p.m., when Super Bowl Game Center flanks Fox’s telecast with up-to-the minute scores and stats. Come September, NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football game slate will also be of the flanker variety, simulcasting the game action presented by the league’s partner in this weeknight package.