Reception for Nickelodeon’s broadcast of Sunday’s Bears-Saints NFL Wild Card Playoff game has been positive, with many viewers and media appreciating the effort to try something different and reach out to a new audience.
In addition to play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle and analyst Nate Burleson doing an excellent job of calling the action while explaining NFL rules and plays to viewers possibly watching football for the first time, the telecast also included a couple of Nickelodeon stars in roles normally featured on a sports broadcast.
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Lex Lumpkin was the telecast’s reporter, bringing a 14-year-old perspective to being so close to an NFL sideline and its hulking players. (He also broke out a Barack Obama impersonation at one point.)
And Gabrielle Nevaeh Green joined Burleson as an analyst, often asking questions that kids might also notice while watching a football game. If there was one aspect of the broadcast that fans criticized on social media, it was Green’s novice observations. But she wasn’t there for football fans. Green, 15, served as the entry for the young audience watching the game.
Nickelodeon’s Gabrielle Nevaeh Green awed by a punt: pic.twitter.com/R1doES7ZBZ
— The IC Workstation (@ClippelBoardy) January 12, 2021
But the broadcast’s coordinating producer, Shawn Robbins, didn’t want Green to go into the game without any helpful information to use. In a New York Times story about the Nickelodeon telecast, Kevin Draper included an amusing nugget about Green accidentally being sent the same game notes package that goes to CBS analyst Tony Romo.
“Her mom sent me an email that said, ‘Um, hey Shawn, what do we need to know from this 800-page packet?’” Robbins said.
Presuming that Green and her team did not dive into that 800-page bundle of notes intended for Romo, the Nickelodeon viewing audience might have been deprived of the All That star looking at New Orleans lining up in a five-receiver formation with quarterback Taysom Hill and predicting to the audience, “Fourth-and-one, Noah! This is gonna be exciting. The Saints are gonna run a quarterback draw up the middle here!”
OK, maybe not.
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What Draper’s report didn’t tell us is if the one-page cheat sheet that was supposed to be sent to Green went to Romo instead. Maybe that would’ve resulted in a call like, “All right, Jim! David Montgomery’s favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate. He’s gonna run a toss to the right here. I’m more of a cookies-and-cream guy myself.”
Well, probably not. Romo’s experience and knowledge would’ve likely taken over in the absence of reams of data provided by CBS producers. But if and when Nickelodeon gets another NFL broadcast, maybe we’ll see such a mix-up happen.
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