Super Bowl mega guide: Eight reasons to watch
It's the greatest show on earth in sport - the NFL Super Bowl LV.
Having overcome the challenge of staging the national football competition as coronavirus laid waste to more than 400,000 lives across the US, the league will look to this year's finale as the fairytale ending all fans need.
As reigning champions, the Kansas City Chiefs were the belles of last year's ball, catapulting quarterback Patrick Mahomes into the code's stratosphere (while pocketing a cool 10-year, $503 million contract for his troubles).
Still, his rival playmaker tomorrow is no slouch, with former New England Patriots star, Tom Brady looking to add to his remarkable legacy and win the Tampa Bay Bucaneers their second (his seventh) Vince Lombardi trophy.
But the beauty of the 'Bowl has never been limited to the game play, with this year's halftime entertainment set to be the biggest - and the longest - spectacle the sport's finale has ever seen.
Here are eight reasons why you need to make it a must-watch:
ALL HAIL THE CHIEFS
Having defeated the San Francisco 49ers in a comeback thriller this time last years, Kansas City will attempt rare back-to-back victories. Leading the field for most of the season, the Chiefs made light work of their NFC semi-finalists, the Green Bay Packers, 31-26 - with quarterback Mahomes having the measure of the Aaron Rodgers-led team; a game which should edge him ahead as this year's MVP (most valuable player). At just 26, Mahomes has stunned with his big game composure and impressed with his athleticism; throwing long and taking on the field himself with an electric running game.
LONG LIVE THE KING
If you haven't heard of Mahomes' opposite - Tom Brady - it's likely you live in a remote Bedouin cave, or just don't get out much. Otherwise known as the husband of supermodel Gisele Bündchen, the 43-year-old is one of the most acclaimed players of the modern era. Most of his awards have come from his time calling the shots at the Patriots, where he reigned supreme from 2001 to 2019. While most fans expected him to hang up the boots as a one-club hero when they clinched their last title, Brady inked a staggering two-year, $50 million deal with the Bucs for another shot at glory. It sets up a tantalising match-up between the code's king and its heir apparent.
SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKND
We're still recovering from last year's Latin celebration, where Shakira and JLo sexed up the halftime show without the aide of a single dose of Viagra. It will be a hard act to follow, but singer and songwriter, The Weeknd has much to prove after being snubbed by the Grammys this year. The 30-year-old said the gig was a dream come true when he was confirmed to perform last November. "We all grow up watching the world's biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position. I'm humbled, honoured and ecstatic to be the centre of that infamous stage this year. So keen to impress, the pop artist has plunged $7 million of his own money into the production.
POETRY IN MOTION
He won't be the opening act, however, with inauguration poet laureate, Amanda Gorman signing on to pay tribute to frontline workers with her oration even before her date with new US President Joe Biden. The league commissioned the poem to honour Trimaine Davis (a Los Angeles educator); Suzie Dorner (an ICU nurse) and James Martin (a Marine Corps veteran) for "their tremendous impact during an unprecedented year." Due to COVID travel restrictions, Gorman prerecorded her recitation last month.
TAKING A KNEE
Adding their voices to the current state of play in the US, look out for social justice messages on each player's helmet. After the murder of George Floyd and the heat of the Black Lives Matter protests, the NFL allowed players to have decals on their helmets featuring names or the initials of victims of police violence and systemic racism. It was a gear change for the league, which ostracised former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem back in 2016 as his personal protest against systemic racism and police brutality.
REID IT AND WEEP
Regarded as one of the best coaches in NFL history, Andy Reid was the game's all-time winningest coach among coaches who had never won a Super Bowl. That was, until he handed the playbook and ball to Patrick Mahomes who secured the bear-like Reid his first championship ring over a 22 season-career. Meanwhile, Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Bucs is in just his second year with Tampa, with a "no risk-it, no biscuit" philosophy.
BAY OF DREAMS
In a unique twist, the game will be played at the home stadium of the Buccaneers - Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. While the NFL rotates the location of the Super Bowl every year to share revenues and promotional reach, the host stadium was named before the Bucs qualified for this week's clash. While social distancing will limit the crowd to just 22,000 fans, look out for the 7500 healthcare workers who have been shouted an all-expenses paid trip by the league.
GET IN THE BOWL
This is one event where your panic-buying purchase of bulk toilet paper might now come in handy, with the average Super Bowl broadcast taking about three-and-a-half hours (that's a lot of pit stops). That said, it's all about the snacks so load up American fast food favourites and settle in for heart-pumping (not to mention cholesterol-inducing) TV.
Super Bowl LV airs from 9am, Foxtel's ESPN and Kayo; 10am on Seven and 7 Plus
Originally published as Super Bowl mega guide: Eight reasons to watch