The lead-up to Super Bowl LV won't have the same atmosphere as previous big games. The coronavirus pandemic has forced all Super Bowl festivities to digital forums and the hordes of football fans with and without tickets to the Big Game will not be able to flock to the site and participate in the various activities the NFL puts on. No Radio Row, no Media Day. The last 10 months have changed everything, and not even the biggest sporting event of the year is immune.
That doesn't mean there isn't any fun to be found, though. And who better to create entertainment than Shaquille O'Neal, a man who has made a prolific post-NBA career out of such endeavors?
If you enjoy Shaq's antics, an eclectic selection of celebrities competing against one another, and former NFL wide receivers, then boy, do I have something for you. On Super Bowl Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, Shaq will be teaming up with Mercari to present the inaugural SHAQ Bowl.
What is the SHAQ Bowl, you ask? It's a competition, a challenge, and it will involve events both silly and entertaining. Two teams will be facing off-- Team Kansas City and Team Tampa Bay. Just like the real thing, eh? Only these teams do not feature Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady.
Team Tampa Bay consists of musician Diplo, Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliott, model Olivia Culpo, rapper Quavo, Steve-O of Jackass fame, and WWE's The Miz. Team Kansas City's lineup features actor Anthony Anderson, WWE's Drew McIntyre, singer Nelly, rapper Offset, former NFL/MiLB player and TV analyst Tim Tebow, and model Winnie Harlow. They will compete in events like dodgeball, tug-of-war, and surfing in pursuit of the first-ever SHAQ Bowl title.
"You know, all the Super Bowl pregame stuff has been boring, so we're gonna change it up. Everyone's gonna be at home this year. So I said, let's do something fun and entertaining for the people," O'Neal told reporters on Wednesday. "I recruited a crazy lineup, a bunch of my close friends. It's gonna feature athletes, celebrities, superstars. All this across two teams competing in fun, viral challenges to when the first-ever SHAQ Bowl trophy."
The event will be hosted by Sarah Walsh alongside, you guessed it, Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson. There's no better pair of former athletes to bring the ridiculousness to an already-wild event. The two will be their usual selves, but they'll also get an opportunity to showcase their football expertise. One segment of the SHAQ Bowl will be dedicated to T.O. and Johnson's analysis of the upcoming Super Bowl.
"They'll really be giving commentary of all the challenges and really helping introduce the SHAQ Bowl, leading us through the SHAQ Bowl," said Adam Richman, co-founder of Medium Rare, the event company working with Shaq to put on the big show. "But also really excitingly, they will be leading a segment of big game analysis where they'll be talking about Kansas City in Tampa in the Super Bowl and who's gonna win that game and obviously giving their knowledge of, you know, being on the field ... So hearing their insight mixed with Shaquille on who's gonna win the big game? I think it's pretty exciting."
While the main event will surely be one for the ages and filled with many a viral moment, the segment featuring two former NFL wideouts presents an opportunity for the pair. While both certainly have a made-for-TV presence, neither has joined other former athletes in becoming part of the sports media landscape. Whether that is from a lack of interest on their part or something else entirely is unknown, but if either Johnson or Owens desires, this would be a great audition.
At the very least, it will be quite the show.
You can watch the SHAQ Bowl on FaceBook and SHAQBowl.com starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday February 7