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Pandemic-style Super Bowl

CALIFORNIA (Axios): Super Bowl LV will be the most-watched TV broadcast of 2021, bringing roughly 100 million Americans together for a few hours of unity and entertainment.

Why it matters: All Super Bowls are culturally important, but this year’s “Big Game,” more than any before it, will offer a reflection of the country.

American citizens, and even those watching from abroad, will gauge the national state of affairs by what they see on the broadcast.

“The game represents an odd chance for an American makeover — a new year, a new administration, a new outlook,” writes NYT’s John Branch.

The big picture: When the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV in Miami, “social distancing” was not even a term.

369 days later, it is our way of life — and will be on full display in Tampa, where there will be more cardboard cutouts (30,000) than fans (25,000).

Upon entry into Raymond James Stadium, each fan will be given a face mask, an item that was foreign to us a year ago, yet is now an important member of the wallet-keys-phone checklist before leaving the house.

What to watch: The pregame festivities will be subdued, setting the tone for a four-hour broadcast in which the NFL and CBS must find a delicate balance between pure “escapism” and the reality of the moment.

Three honorary captains — a nurse, teacher and a Marine veteran — will take part in the coin toss.

Amanda Gorman, fresh off her star turn at President Biden’s inauguration, will recite an original poem.

The national anthem, a duet by Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church, will be preceded by a performance of “America the Beautiful” by H.E.R.

The bottom line: Super Bowl LV will be a restrained spectacle, but there’s still potential for plenty of magic, starting with the dream QB matchup of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.

Game details:

Time: 6:30pm ET

Network: CBS

Announcers: Jim Nantz and Tony Romo

Weather forecast: 73°F, 56% chance of rain

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