Feb 1, 2020 - Sports

Special preview: Super Bowl LIV

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Super Bowl isn't just a football game. It's the halftime show; it's the ads; it's the seven-layer dip; it's the fact that, for four hours on Sunday night, nobody is expected to be doing anything else.

Why it matters: The Super Bowl is one of the last remnants of an era when we all watched the same things at the same time. It is the "live sport" of all live sports, which is currently the only form of content tethering many consumers to traditional TV.

  • The game: With the Patriots absent for the first time since 2016, Super Bowl LIV feels like the dawn of a new era. Patrick Mahomes leads a pass-heavy Chiefs attack against the NFL's best defense, while Jimmy Garoppolo leads a 49ers offense that has run the ball on 71 of its last 88 plays.
  • The booth: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call their sixth Super Bowl together for FOX, while Erin Andrews and Chris Myers will handle sideline reporting.
  • The music: Yolanda Adams will sing "America the Beautiful" before kickoff, Demi Lovato will sing the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will co-headline the halftime show.
  • The ads: Good news, football fans! (And bad news, commercial fans!) In a bid to reduce the number of interruptions in this year's game, Fox is cutting one commercial break from every quarter.

The backdrop ... With youth football participation falling, several states debating whether a tackle version of the sport should even be allowed, and NFL stars retiring in their 20s due to health concerns, there is a growing sense that America's moment of "peak football" may be in the past.

The bottom line: The conflict between football's cultural grip on America and the clear risks involved in playing it represents one of the great dramas of our time. The story will continue on Sunday — with 100 million people watching.

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What the Super Bowl coaches are saying ahead of the game

Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images

Andy Reid, 61, hasn't been to the Super Bowl in 15 years and is the NFL's best coach to never win one, making him the sentimental favorite among neutral fans.

What he's saying: Did I mention he's quirky and hilarious? Yesterday, he compared having nine grandchildren to eating Chinese food: "They keep you young and at the same time make you feel old. It's kind of like sweet and sour pork."

Go deeperArrowFeb 1, 2020 - Sports

How the 49ers will try to stop the juggernaut Chiefs offense

Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Andy Reid has built an offensive juggernaut in Kansas City thanks to an otherworldly QB and the NFL's fastest group of receivers. He also happens to be the sport's most valuable play-caller.

By the numbers: The Chiefs scored on nearly half of their possessions this season, trailing only the Ravens. They also faced the third-fewest third downs of any team — and led the NFL in third-down conversion rate anyway.

Go deeperArrowFeb 1, 2020 - Sports

9 memorable Super Bowl 2020 ads

Tom Brady in Hulu's Super Bowl commercial. Photo: Hulu

Super Bowl 2020 was watched by an estimated 194 million people on Sunday, according to the National Retail Federation.

The big picture: With figures like that, it's no wonder the clash between Jimmy Garoppolo’s San Francisco 49ers and Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs drew some of the biggest names in business, sports and politics during the commercial breaks. Here are some of the most memorable ads from the big event.

See adsArrowUpdated Feb 3, 2020 - Sports