The ultimate guide to watching the Super Bowl in lockdown
|Conference location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay Date: Sunday February 7th Begin: 23:30 GMT|
|Preview: Watch the NFL show on Saturday night on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online.|
|Live broadcast: Watch on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer and online from 23:00 GMT; Listen to Radio 5 Live; Follow live text and in-play clips on the BBC Sports website and app.|
It’s been a season like no other in the NFL, but it will have a familiar ending with Tom Brady playing in the Super Bowl.
The evergreen quarterback has already won a record six Super Bowls, but in his first season outside the New England Patriots, he made the NFL showpiece for the tenth time in his 21-year career.
For the first time in NFL history, the quarterbacks who have won the last two Super Bowls meet in the latest edition when Brady takes on Patrick Mahomes, the led the Kansas City Chiefs to victory last year.
Additionally, Brady has helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the first team to host a Super Bowl in their own stadium.
While coronavirus restrictions mean Super Bowl 55 has the least amount of the big game to be seen and the usual razzmatazz is missing, the anticipation continues to grow in Tampa.
What’s different at this year’s Super Bowl?
Super Bowl week usually starts with photo opportunities at the airport when the teams arrive in the host city, followed by Opening Night – a media extravaganza where reporters from around the world speak to players and coaches in a crowded arena.
Brady used to have to submit an interviewer’s marriage proposal in a wedding dress and answer questions from someone wearing a Brady mask. This year, however, the interviews were conducted via video conference.
“Why do I not see her at all, why do I only see myself?” said Brady. “It’s a crazy media day. I’m sitting here in an empty room.”
Usually there were concerts and week-long parties for fans, but this year the official celebrations were limited to the Super Bowl Experience – an interactive football theme park that was fully booked before Super Bowl week.
Both teams were able to prepare at home, with the Bucs enjoying the luxury of avoiding long-distance travel. The Chiefs, who trained indoors on Thursday due to snow in Missouri, will arrive on Saturday and fly out immediately after the game.
How many fans will there be at the Super Bowl?
The only time in recent history that the Bucs’ cannons went silent was due to water damage during Hurricane Irma in 2017
All NFL stadiums were empty or had a reduced capacity this season. As of October, a limited number of fans have been admitted to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, which holds 65,890 spectators.
On Sunday, 30,000 clippings and 25,000 fans will be in attendance, including 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers who have received free tickets.
Tampa Bay players will be familiar with the turf and facility, but to neutralize the terrain, all Buccaneers signage has been given Super Bowl livery.
The stadium also features a pirate ship on an end zone with cannons that traditionally fire every time the Bucs score. However, they are only allowed to fire on Sunday if the Bucs are introduced before the game.
“After the year we’ve had, people are happy to have something to celebrate.”
Blaire Toedte, BBC World Service Sport, in Tampa
This year’s Super Bowl is a much quieter, more low-key affair, and it lacks the glitz and glamor you’d expect from the biggest sporting event in the United States, comparable to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
While some had to be just a few blocks from their Tampa homes, others made the trip from Kansas City, and there’s a decent performance from Chiefs fans.
Despite the pandemic, there is still a lot of excitement here and lots of fans to see along the Tampa Riverwalk. The locals shout “Go Bucs”. People ask to speak to me as opposed to me to interview them.
Many fans are grateful that this event comes to fruition. For many, this is light in a difficult year.
Who is playing the halftime show?
The Weeknd wants to “dial in fans at home and make the show a cinematic experience”.
This year will be the coveted halftime show performed by Canadian singer The Weeknd, his biggest hit was Blinding Lights in 2019.
About 104m watched Shakira and Jennifer Lopez put on last year’s halftime show, but this year there won’t be thousands of staff flocking to the field to assemble the stage, followed by hundreds of invited fans.
The Weeknd can enter the field during its show, but otherwise everything takes place on a stage that has been set up in the stands.
According to the National Chicken Council, 1.42 billion chicken wings will still be eaten in the US on Sunday. A 30-second television commercial is said to cost $ 5.5 million (£ 4 million).
What health and safety measures will there be?
The NFL will provide PSA kits to all spectators upon arrival at the stadium. Wearing masks is mandatory for fans, players and team members.
Bars and restaurants are open in Tampa, but Florida state guidelines recommend that citizens wear face-covering in public and stay within six feet of each other, while asking fans to keep gatherings small.
Two Chiefs players were put on the reserve / covid list last Sunday after the team made hair appointments for players and staff The hairdresser received a positive test result – mid-cut.
Center Daniel Kilgore insisted he finished the cut, but he and broad receiver Demarcus Robinson are required to test negative for five days before they can return to team activities.
The first female Super Bowl official
Sarah Thomas will become the first woman to officiate in a Super Bowl six years after becoming the NFL’s first full-time officer.
The 47-year-old from Mississippi will be the judge in Tampa, while the Bucs will have two coaches – assistant defensive coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar.
Earlier this season, Thomas was in the First NFL game with female coaches on the opposing sidelines and an official.