Thousands of tightly packed, cheering fans all decked out in their team jerseys and face paint was not the case this NFL season. Due to covid restrictions, many stadiums fell quiet or could only allow a third of their cheering section. Fanatics instead watched the season unfold from the safety of their homes. Aside from the lack of fans and some postponing of games, the NFL season allowed for some normality in people’s everyday lives.
The regular season ended leaving eight teams standing, fired up to start the next round, the playoffs. First came the wildcard, followed by divisional, and then the championship round which ultimately led the winner to play in the Super Bowl.
Todd Simpson, a sports lover, was thrilled that his team, the Buffalo Bills, had made it to the AFC playoffs. He showed his spirit for the team by wearing Bill’s gear, even a mask. Simpson explained, “That was my home team as a kid, growing up in Brockport, New York, between Rochester and Buffalo. Most of my childhood, they were not very good, rarely making the playoffs and most of the time having more losses than wins during the season, but that was your home team, just like ours in Latrobe are the Steelers.”
Overall, the Bills had an amazing 2020-21 season finishing with a record of 13-3, winning the AFC East, and advancing the whole way to the AFC Championship game. Simpson said, “At the beginning of the season, I would not have believed that the Bills would have made it as far as they did. That being said, I was super excited to see them have a great season. They kept advancing each week and I was hoping that they would make it the whole way to the Super Bowl.”
Unfortunately, their season ended earlier than Bills fans would have liked. They were not able to stop the young, talented quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, and his number one ranked offense from scoring. To put it simply, the Chiefs just out played the Bills. “Overall, I have to say I am pleased with their season as a whole,” said Simpson. The Bills, along with their quarterback Josh Allen, definitely played better than many expected.
Neither the AFC or NFC game ended the way Simpson had hoped, wishing that the Buffalo Bills won against the Kansas City Chiefs and that the Green Bay Packers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Despite the losses, they were both exciting games to watch, neither ending up being a blowout,” explained Simpson.
Over the course of the season, a limited number of fans have been allowed back into certain stadiums, wearing masks and social distancing of course. For the Super Bowl, 22,000 fans are permitted under Covid safe guidelines. 7,500 of those tickets are going to vaccinated healthcare workers. The New England Patriots team plane is helping this cause by flying 76 vaccinated healthcare workers from all six New England States. According to the Kraft family, (owners of the Patriots) the mission of this trip is two-fold: to recognize and thank a representative group of the countless healthcare superheroes in New England, and to celebrate and spread the important message of getting vaccinated. “I think it’s great they are having fans, it makes the game more exciting. But if it was up to me, I would fill that stadium with 70 thousand vaccinated health care workers. They earned it,” said Simpson.
On Super Bowl Sunday people don’t just enjoy the football, but all the other aspects that come with this special game. Super Bowl parties are very popular, although are not encouraged this year due to Covid. People always look forward to the food, some of the favorites including, chips and guac, nachos, wings, and plenty of drinks. For most, half time is when everyone takes a break from the T.V., but not during the Super Bowl. This year’s halftime show features the Weeknd.
The debut of new commercials are always a big hit on game day and are continued to be talked about days after. “ I love to watch them, however it is tough to leave the T.V, not knowing if I should get up during the game or during the commercials, not wanting to miss either, ” said Simpson.
This year, many companies have opted out of doing an in-game commercial, including Budweiser, Coke, and Pepsi. They have decided to use their money to draw awareness for Covid-19.
Simpson being his talkative self, had a story for me.“When I was in the army, the armed forces would set up a T.V. for us to watch the Super Bowl, unfortunately there were no commercial breaks.Ironically, days later there would be a show that just ran all the Super Bowl commercials.”
Super Bowl LV  will be held on February 7, 2021 with the Kansas City Chiefs versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Florida. This will be the first year in all of Super Bowl history that a team will play at their home field, but if anyone was going to accomplish that feat it would be Tom Brady. This game will be exciting having two of the best quarterbacks. This is Tom Brady’s first year playing for Tampa Bay after his contract with the New England Patriots was up last year. Many thought at the age of 42 that he would retire, but Tom still wanted more. Winning this game would win him his 7th Super Bowl, being the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. On the other hand, if Patrick Mahomes comes out victorious he will have won back to back Super Bowls with the Chiefs and become the youngest player to win multiple Super Bowl MVP trophies. Not to mention, he is the highest paid player in the NFL. Ironically, Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver (Tampa Bay) and Le’veon Bell, Running Back (Chiefs), both formally playing for the Steelers will meet each other face to face on the field.
“I don’t really care who wins,” Simpson continues on to say, “but I would love to see that smirk wiped off Brady’s face, maybe some tears and a score of 50 nothing.” So with that he would love to see the Chiefs play a great game and take the title.
All in all, the NFL season ran pretty smoothly despite being in the midst of a Pandemic. The fans, coaches, and players took precautions and followed guidelines to stay safe and yet still had a successful, exciting season. Now onto the Super Bowl, where we find out who will be the ultimate winner of the Lombardi Trophy.