With the start of Super Bowl week here, it’s quickly going to become noticeable what normal aspects won’t take place, or will be significantly altered due to the ongoing pandemic.
While the usual level of interest might still be what it is every year, here are five usual features of the week in the host city that will be missing this time, according to USA Today.
1. Teams won’t be arriving at site early in the week.
Well, technically, this is a weird one -- because with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to play the game in its home stadium, they’ll obviously be in town. But typically, there is a lot of fanfare on Sunday or Monday when teams arrive at the airport in the host city to kick off the week.
The teams then typically practice at a site in the host city and have in-person media sessions throughout the week. That won’t be the case this year with the Kansas City Chiefs, who will essentially play it like a normal road game and won’t travel to Tampa until Friday or Saturday.
2. No live Media Day.
This has become one of the signature events of the week, when a day is designated for the thousands of media members to congregate in one spot and ask players on both teams endless questions.
It can be sports reporters asking serious questions about the game, or entertainment reporters asking more personal questions about where a player likes to vacation the most, etc. With the pandemic, the typical live Media Day was replaced on Monday by a virtual event in which nine players from each team conducted interviews via Zoom. The interviews were shown later that night on tape delay on NFL Network.
3. No Super Bowl Experience indoors.
One of the biggest fan attractions during any Super Bowl week is the “Super Bowl Experience,” which is a space that features attractions for fans such as football-related activities, interactive games, memorabilia and autograph sessions. It’s usually held indoors at places such as a city’s convention center, but this year, for the first time, it will take place entirely outdoors along Tampa’s riverfront.
Hopefully, fans don’t have to dodge raindrops.
4. No Hall of Fame selection on site.
Usually, the vote of the newest Hall of Fame class takes place among a group of selectors the day before the game, and then is announced that same day once the process is finished. This year, the selections have already been made virtually. The class will be announced Saturday night.
5. Celebrity parties will be greatly affected.
Forget the game. In the eyes of many, the real action is which celebrities are in town to throw big, lavish bashes and exactly what features those parties entail. That will be greatly limited this week, most notably the 34th annual Super Bowl party of agent Leigh Stenberg, which is going to be virtual. Steinberg’s party is partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise money for charity.