Yesterday, the NFL aired its first playoff game ever on Nickelodeon, and the New Orleans Saints’ defeat of the Chicago Bears actually turned out to be the most regular part of the show. As a matter of fact, the game was a great, light-hearted way to get children engaged with the gridiron. But the game also managed to still be entertaining for adults and allowed them to reconnect with their kids, too.
The mix of seasoned color commentators with kids made for a more relatable crew, and they used a lot of analogies to make generally confusing concepts more understandable for younger audience members. Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson was really well received for his references to characters like Tommy Pickles and comparing Saints QB Drew Brees to “the kid at recess who never misses at dodgeball.” Young Sheldon actor Iain Armitage explained penalties in character and explained false starts as when “my Dad starts shoveling in dinner before my Mom says grace.”
And whereas your usual halftime break is the panel chewing the fat with each other and standard highlights, the replays were instead done in Minecraft-style graphics.
But things did get a little messy at times. First, Saints coach Sean Payton promised that, if his team won the wild card game, he would be willing to be a good sport and get slimed. So, true to his word, Payton sat down and let himself – and his fresh pair of Jordan 11’s – get drenched in the legendary green goo.
And, believe it or not, Bears wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson spiced up the lingo a tad, frustrated with being called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and he dropped Nickelodeon’s first F-bomb ever. But ever the experienced pro, Burleson just rolled with it and calmly said, “All right.”
Overall, the experiment was a success, and let’s see if it helps keep the sport alive with the youth.