Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates after beating the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field . Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs to wear white jerseys vs. Chiefs in Super Bowl LV

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will wear white jerseys for their upcoming “home” game in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.

The decision to do so alters from the norm, as the Buccaneers traditionally wear red tops for games at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

The Buccaneers, who are designated as the home team against Kansas City, will be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

Tampa Bay, of late, has made itself at home on the road while wearing its white jerseys. The Buccaneers wore white while posting a 30-20 win over the New Orleans Saints in a divisional-round game on Jan. 17 and a 31-26 victory versus the Green Bay Packers in Sunday’s NFC title tilt.

The Chiefs will wear their red jerseys on Feb. 7. They also wore those jerseys last year during their 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) smiles after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs WR Antonio Brown on first Super Bowl injury report

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers listed wide receiver Antonio Brown on their injury report Wednesday, as well with both starting safeties, in advance of Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.

Despite neither the Buccaneers nor the Kansas CIty Chiefs team holding practice Wednesday, each conference champion delivered their first injury reports in advance of the Super Bowl at Tampa, Fla.

The NFC champion Buccaneers estimated that Brown, who missed Tampa Bay’s victory on Sunday at Green Bay, would have missed a practice Wednesday due to a knee injury. Head coach Bruce Arians told WDAE radio in Tampa on Tuesday that neither Brown nor starting safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) are expected to practice during the Super Bowl bye week.

After catching a touchdown pass in the Bucs’ wild-card win at Washington, Brown injured his knee during Tampa Bay’s divisional-round win at New Orleans on Jan. 17. After signing with Tampa Bay in October, Brown had 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight games in the regular season before catching three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs.

The rookie Winfield was joined on the injury report by the team’s other starting safety Jordan Whitehead, who hurt his shoulder against the Packers in a game where he forced two Aaron Jones fumbles.

Starting linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring) and linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) were also designated as not participating Wednesday. Wide receiver Mike Evans (knee) and defensive tackle Vita Vae (ankle) were listed as limited. Wide receiver Chris Godwin (elbow) was cleared for full practice.

For the Chiefs, the only player declared out Wednesday was starting tackle Eric Fisher, who suffered a torn Achilles in Kansas City’s AFC title-game win over Buffalo on Sunday. Fisher is not expected to play in the Super Bowl.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was estimated as a full practice participant in the wake of the turf toe injury he has been nursing.

The team’s limited participants included running backs Le’Veon Bell (knee) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle, hip), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf), tackles Mike Remmers (groin) and Andrew Wylie (ankle), linebacker William Gay (ankle) along with cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed (concussion) and Rashad Fenton (foot).

–Field Level Media

Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Detailed view of the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the hands of a Kansas City Chiefs player celebrating after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Super Bowl LV ticket prices still steep despite dip

Ticket prices for Super Bowl LV will be exorbitant but likely not record-setting, Sportico reported.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the cheapest ticket price on the NFL’s official On Location Experiences site was $6,800 before fees — and that price required a minimum purchase of three tickets. Still, individually, that’s far below the record-setting price of more than $12,000 some buyers paid to watch the New England Patriots defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 in Glendale, Ariz., Sportico said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 24,700 fans will be admitted to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., when the hometown Buccaneers face the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7. Already, 7,500 seats have been allocated to vaccinated health-care workers.

Despite the Buccaneers being the first team ever to play in the Super Bowl in its home stadium, demand hasn’t swelled to a frenzy because of the pandemic. While prices spiked immediately after the Bucs beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday to clinch the Super Bowl berth, prices have fallen since. Many corporate sponsors also have bowed out of the Super Bowl this year, keeping the prices from reaching record highs.

Tickets are hitting the secondary market but aren’t selling for the highest prices. That might have something to do with the Chiefs playing in the Super Bowl for a second consecutive year or because the Super Bowl atmosphere — the parties and such — will be tempered because of the pandemic.

“Tickets aren’t moving,” Brett Goldberg, the co-CEO of TickPick, told Sportico. “They’re just not selling — and understandably at these price points. It’s hard to justify spending this amount of money for a Super Bowl experience that is just not going to be the same.”

The least-expensive price per ticket on TickPick on Wednesday afternoon was $7,137 and had to be bought in a package of four.

–Field Level Media

Jan 24, 2021, Green Bay, WI, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) exalts during the presentation off the George Halas Trophy after  their NFC Championship game Sunday, January 24, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Green Bay Packers 31-26. Mandatory credit: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Super man at Super Bowl? Can Brady do it again?

Tom Brady will be trying to earn more than just his seventh Lombardi Trophy when he leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium: He’ll be trying to become his own dynasty.

At 43, Brady is one victory away from proving his ability to win titles isn’t tied to a single franchise or a sure-fire Hall of Fame coach. He’s a win from proving he’s strong enough to go anywhere and emerge triumphant.

After all, he has already proven he can lead fourth-quarter comebacks on the game’s grandest stage, and showed that being down by 25 points late in the third quarter of a Super Bowl means next to nothing.

Brady has turned Tampa — a professional football wasteland for decades — into the undisputed sports capital of the U.S. today. The city in western Florida is home to the reigning Stanley Cup champion Lightning and the American League champion Rays, and is a win away from filling the streets of Ybor City with confetti.

Tampa Bay is hosting the Super Bowl, the first one where a team will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy on its own home field.

Brady turned New England, which had never won a Super Bowl, from a mediocre franchise when he arrived in 2000 into a six-time champion worth $4.4 billion, second in the NFL behind the Cowboys, when he left, according to Forbes.

Now, he has taken a Buccaneers franchise that had gone 267-424-1 for a .387 winning percentage — the worst among North American pro sports teams — in the 44 seasons before he arrived to just their second Super Bowl and first since winning it in 2003. Since then, the Buccaneers didn’t win a playoff game — until their savior arrived.

Speaking after Sunday’s NFC title game, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians referred to the “belief (Brady) gave everybody in this organization that it could be done. It only took one man.”

But standing in Tampa Bay’s way is a quarterback who has won a Super Bowl more recently than Brady — Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. He’s looking to become the first quarterback to lead his team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles since you-know-who did it with the Patriots in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX in 2004 and 2005.

“We just have to be ourselves,” Mahomes said after beating Buffalo. “I trust my guys over everybody.”

The Super Bowl odds opened with Kansas City as a 3.5-point favorite and an over/under of 57.5 points at FanDuel, which has set money lines for Kansas City at -186 and Tampa at +145.

Between now and kickoff, expect a blitz of storylines and statistics to sift through before deciding where to focus your wagers.

Here are two things you need to know.

Any list of potential history-makers at Super Bowl LV must have Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill near the top, so take a close look at his over/under for receptions and yards for prop bets.

Hill will take the field at Raymond James Stadium seeking to become just the ninth receiver in league history to be named to The Associated Press’ All-Pro First Team and win the Super Bowl in the same season. It’s a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Indianapolis’ Marvin Harrison in 2006.

Of the eight players who have done it, five — Jerry Rice (1988, 1989, 1994), John Stallworth (1979), Lynn Swann (1978), Paul Warfield (1973) and Harrison — are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Gary Clark (1987), Drew Pearson (1977) and Cliff Branch (1976) had very, very good careers.

Tampa Bay gave up 346 passing yards to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in its win in the NFC title game.

Hill torched Tampa Bay for 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns on 15 targets in the teams’ regular-season meeting less than two months ago.

Hill made seven catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone, joining Qadry Ismail (210 in the third quarter on Dec. 12, 1999) and Lee Evans (205 in the first quarter on Nov. 19, 2006) as the only NFL receivers since 1980 to have 200 receiving yards in a quarter.

What does Kansas City’s 27-24 win at Tampa Bay in late November really mean as it relates to Super Bowl LV? Everything? Or nothing?

On four occasions, the eventual AFC and NFC champions met during the regular season.

In 1990, the Bills beat the Giants, 17-13, in Week 15, but then Scott Norwood happened in Super Bowl XXV.

In 1993, the Bills went to Dallas and won, 13-10, in Week 2, only to see the Cowboys crush Buffalo in the Super Bowl for the second straight season, 30-13.

And then there’s the Brady factor, of course.

In 2007, his undefeated Patriots beat the Giants, 38-35, in Week 17. A few weeks later, David Tyree’s catch happened and the Giants won Super Bowl XLII.

In 2011, Brady’s Patriots lost at home to the Giants, 24-20, in the regular season and fell to New York again, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI.

–Jon Gallo, Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; NFL female line judge referee Sarah Thomas (53) in the third quarter of the game between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Colts 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sarah Thomas to be first woman to officiate Super Bowl

Sarah Thomas will make history again next month as the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl.

The NFL on Tuesday announced the officiating crew for Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 in Tampa, Fla.

Referee Carl Cheffers’ crew includes Thomas as a down judge along with umpire Fred Bryan, line judge Rusty Baynes, field judge James Coleman, side judge Eugene Hall, back judge Dino Paganelli and replay official Mike Wimmer.

“Sarah Thomas has made history again as the first female Super Bowl official,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in a statement. “Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl. Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honor.”

Thomas, 47, was hired as the first full-time female official in NFL history in 2015. She made her regular-season debut when the Houston Texans hosted the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 13, 2015.

Coleman and Thomas are Super Bowl newcomers, while the others are working in the title game for the second time. Cheffers was the referee for Super Bowl LI when the New England Patriots rallied to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime, 34-28, in Houston.

–Field Level Media

Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Recording artists Shakira performs at halftime in Super Bowl LIV between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Weeknd to headline Super Bowl LV halftime show

Canadian singer The Weeknd will headline the halftime show at Super Bowl LV in February.

The announcement was jointly made Thursday by show sponsor Pepsi, the NFL and Roc Nation.

“We all grow up watching the world’s biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position,” The Weeknd said in a news release. “I’m humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage this year.”

Born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, The Weeknd released the single “Blinding Lights” nearly a year ago. Since then, the song has hit No. 1 on the charts in 34 countries. He is a three-time Grammy winner.

“The Weeknd has introduced a sound all his own,” said Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, the founder of Roc Nation. “His soulful uniqueness has defined a new generation of greatness in music and artistry. This is an extraordinary moment in time and the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show is going to be an extraordinary experience with an extraordinary performer.”

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were the performers at the Super Bowl earlier this year.

Super Bowl LV is scheduled to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 7.

–Field Level Media

Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;  A general view of empty stands before a NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NFL plans 20 percent capacity for Super Bowl

Super Bowl tickets will be harder to get than ever.

The NFL currently plans to limit attendance to 20 percent for Super Bowl LV, scheduled for Feb. 7, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., ESPN reported Wednesday.

The stadium has a seating capacity of 65,618 fans, expandable to 75,000 for special events, meaning an estimated crowd of 13,000 to 15,000 could be allowed to attend the game.

Other restrictions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic include spectators being required to wear masks and sit in “pods six feet apart,” per the report.

ESPN also said the date of the game will not change if the NFL adds a Week 18 to the regular season. The week off currently scheduled between the conference championships and the Super Bowl would be eliminated instead.

–Field Level Media