CBS Sports undoubtedly produced one of the Blackest Super Bowl telecasts in NFL history on Feb. 7 as the Kansas City Chiefs took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in professional football’s championship game.

First, let’s get the television numbers out of the way. According to Nielsen, Super Bowl LV averaged 96.4 million viewers across TV and streaming platforms. That number was down from last year’s Super Bowl, which averaged roughly 102 million viewers across FOX and streaming platforms. 

While viewership was down overall this year, the online fan experience was something to boast about. CBS Sports reported streaming, in particular, was up by 65 percent compared to last year, due to the increasing accessibility of viewing options. 

The four-hour Super Bowl LV Today pregame show on CBS included a timeline of notable events seeking to highlight ethnic and gender diversity throughout the broadcast.

First, women in the NFL were highlighted and this included referee Sarah Thomas, who became the first woman game official to work the Super Bowl. 

The network highlighted Whitney Houston’s 1991 performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV, a moment it declared as the best rendition of the anthem in history. Twitter was on fire about witnessing this moment again.

Next up, Academy Award-winner Viola Davis and CBS Sports shared the story of Kenny Washington who re-integrated the NFL back in the 1940s before Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough in Major League baseball. 

Then, “Club Quarantine” came through with DJ D-Nice on the turntables at Raymond James Stadium during pregame warmups and during the pregame broadcast. This was a win for everyone that has enjoyed the veteran deejay’s Instagram Live broadcast throughout 2020!

Today was truly one of my favorite DJ (sic) experiences,” said D-Nice in an Instagram post. “I never imagined one day opening the Super Bowl and being able to rock CQ from the stadium. Thanks to the @NFL, Jay-Z & @RocNation, @instagram, Michael Fiur Productions, and the BrandNice team for making it happen. Thank you CQ family for tuning in. I hope that I make DJs proud.”

Next, Alicia Keys sang the Negro national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice & Sing.” At this moment we all felt that the Super Bowl this year was very Black. 

With finger-waved edges and a long ponytail that reminded us of the simple beauty of the great Sade, Keys took her time in a powerful pre-recorded rendition of the classic that ended with a quote from the late John Lewis, who said, “There are forces that want to take us back to another place; we don’t want to go back. We want to go forward.”

It was clear, intentionally or not, that Jay-Z and his team were involved with planning entertainment, but did this reach those of us still rooting for Colin Kaepernick and his movement? 

Following Keys’ performance, R&B sensation and newcomer H.E.R. took her moment in the limelight to sing and play a bluesy rendition of “America the Beautiful.” The young starlet, decked out in a bedazzled denim jacket and star-spangled jeans, delivered a mighty portion of Black Girl Magic with a touch of Princesque rock guitar vibes in a rendition that was stirring and so amazing to take in.

Unfortunately, the megawatt Jazmine Sullivan had to share her history-making moment with a performer who just quite couldn’t match her energy nor the vibration of the moment. Sullivan sang the National Anthem with Country Singer Eric Church and it just didn’t blend well.

This was a manufactured NFL “All Lives Matter” moment when it should’ve just been her standing alone giving us a glimpse of hope after all we’ve experienced this past year.

In spite of the pairing, Sullivan’s ferocious vocal prowess and buttery delivery carried the performance. Many have even declared this moment for the underrated songwriter and artist as secondary only to Houston’s Super Bowl moment, which was also delivered in Tampa 30 years ago. 

A moment that many fans waited for was realized when Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recited her poem, “Chorus of the Captains,”  an ode to three American “essential workers” — Florida nurse manager Suzie Dorner, Pittsburgh-based Marine veteran James Martin, and Los Angeles educator Trimaine Davis — for their timely, tireless work on the frontlines during the pandemic. 

I swear, every time I hear Gorman speak, I get chills. This magnetic and stirring moment was one for all of our community heroes. We appreciate those who sacrifice their lives daily to help others and we will never forget those we have lost during this difficult time.

Now, while there were over 24,835 fans in the stands at the game, there was perhaps one Atlantan among the crowd who stood out the most. 

Film producer Will Packer attended the game, sharing on his Instagram feed why he wanted to take part in this experience. 

As a sports fan, I can assure you that it’s a dream come true to see your team play in the championship game, and Packer, a Tampa native, got to witness his team play in his hometown for the Lombardi trophy. His joy and excitement, shared with his wife Heather, who was celebrating her birthday, was a beautiful sight! 

Said Packer on his Instagram account: “18 years ago my Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. I couldn’t afford tickets to go to the game so I flew to Long Beach, CA, and drove a rental to San Diego where I watched the game in a Motel 6 on the outskirts of the city just so I could be close to the game. This time around…I was in the stadium(with my rider by my side as always). WE. ARE. WORLD. CHAMPIONS!!!!!”

This is what following sports does for many of us! Although many on social media questioned why the NFL chose to have the Super Bowl played in front of fans, I can share that it wouldn’t have been a Super Bowl at all without people in the stands and the 30,000 cardboard cutouts. 

Hats off to the City of Tampa, Tampa Bay Sports Commission, the Mayor of Tampa, Jane Castor, and the NFL for creating an amazing fan experience despite all of the challenges. Los Angeles, you are now on the clock to host the Super Bowl next year in 2022. Hope you are ready!

The Weeknd performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Dawn has ascended through the ranks at the The Atlanta Voice. Starting out as Sports Editor in 2017, Montgomery currently serves as the Chief Brand Officer. Montgomery earned a Bachelor's degree from Oglethorpe...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.