The first NFL broadcast on Nickelodeon is better than we ever could have imagined, and proved immediately that this needs to happen more often. The youth-focused presentation of the game made it not only perfect for kids, but anyone who wants to enjoy football without the grand seriousness of traditional commentary.
Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson led the charge for football knowledge in the booth, breaking down the game and trying to make kids understand the game. Sure, it was a little simplistic, saying stuff like “Allen Robinson hopes to run and catch a ball from his quarterback,” by that’s what young kids need to appreciate the game.
There were also dozens of small Nickelodeon touches, from between play graphics showing football players with cartoon elements, to the first down marker being replaced by a “slime line.” It just worked, and I love it.
The lines are actually moving during play pic.twitter.com/7O1dnK6OOT— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) January 10, 2021
It’s really nice to watch a broadcast just focused on optimism and the fun of football. I’ll take commentators discussing their favorite ice cream flavors and excitement during every play to the morose, ludicrous presentation by NBC on Saturday night that mentioned the attack on the Capitol no fewer than five times during Buccaneers vs. Washington.
There’s a bell curve to how much this kind of presentation works. If you know nothing about football it’s perfect. If you’re semi-knowledgable and want to know a little more, then you’re not going to learn much. If you’re a veteran football watcher and gain little from a traditional broadcast, then why not watch something that’s based on pure fun?
I learn a lot more about a player finding out that Bears’ tight end Cole Kmet is a die-hard Drake and Josh fan, more than knowing about the amount of receiving yards he had in an obscure college game I didn’t watch. I understand Nate Burleson a little bit better as a person knowing his favorite ice cream flavor is pralines and cream.
When the game was said and done, the Saints won easily — but in a twist Bears’ quarterback Mitchell Trubisky won the “Nickelodeon Valuable Player” award, which was an appropriately weird ending to a bizarre game.
And yes, someone got slimed. In what hopefully becomes a new tradition, Saints coach Sean Payton took a bucket of the green stuff on the head after the game.
Sure, there are some pitfalls to the Nickelodeon game too. When I heard young broadcaster Gabrielle Nevaeh Green recite a stat and say “2000, wow ... I wasn’t even born then,” I felt it. I felt it in my soul — but in the end it was still worth it. This needs to be a staple of the NFL season moving forward, not just for our fun, but for the future of football fans.