Nickelodeon's Saints-Bears broadcast delivers with slime, nostalgia, and fun — despite accidental f-bomb

Cassandra Negley
·Writer

Yup, they were all once kids, too. And now these NFL players are taking part in the first NFL game on Nickelodeon, which has scores of fans and non-fans asking for more.

The NFC wild-card matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears got the slime treatment on Sunday by airing simultaneously on CBS and Nickelodeon. It was a hit on social media with its moving slime first-down line, a slime-filled red zone and an end zone dubbed the “slime zone.”

The game started with “Spongebob Sportspants” and was littered with Nick references for kids and adults alike. It was an enjoyably different way to watch a football game. Oh, and there’s also a NVP — Nickelodeon Valuable Player award. The Saints got the team victory, 21-9, to move on the Divisional round and Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky won the NVP.

Slime takes over wild-card weekend

Everything about the Nickelodeon broadcast was bright, colorful, cartoony and downright fun. The scorebug, which was so iconically Nick it didn’t need the channel label at the bottom, was clear and easy to read.

And there was slime everywhere. Credit Michael Thomas, who had scored his first touchdown since December 2019, for going into the history books as the first to be slimed on a touchdown.

He was followed in the slime zone by Latavius Murray, who scored in the third, and Alvin Kamara, who made it 21-3 in the fourth.

Cairo Santos had the honor of the first NFL kicker to aim for Spongebob’s face on a field goal.

Bears wide receiver Javon Wims had the unfortunate distinction of being trolled by Patrick when he dropped a wide-open touchdown. Slime was even blamed for the mistake.

And the first-half highlights were in pure Nickelodeon form.

Though Sean Payton said he would be willing to get slimed if the Saints won, no one was actually slimed in the end.

Nick catches swear word on broadcast

The drawback of live mics and empty stadiums hit Nickelodeon late in the first half, just as it has most other stations this season. (Warning: language)

NFL players as Nickelodeon characters

We learned players’ favorite Nick shows, sports stars and ice cream flavors in the “Bio Blast.” But the best part was seeing and hearing how the producers and announcers described the players themselves.

Saints quarterbacks Drew Brees and Taysom Hill are like Spongebob and Patrick — you know, dynamic duos, per Nickelodeon.

And on the topic of Hill, he’s “the kid at recess who can do everything.” He’s the kid you pick No. 1 no matter what sport is being played that day, Burleson said.

And if there’s someone named Alvin Kamara on their screens, why not make that Alvin and the Chipmunks comparison? They’re each stars in their own right.

For the older crowd tuning in, CBS analyst Nate Burleson, 39, and play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle, 24, son of CBS broadcaster Ian, did a good job of dropping in older 1990s Nickelodeon references. On the first flag of the day, Burleson noted it wasn’t “like a flag in ‘Double Dare’” that was pulled and passed along when the competitor got to the end of the slime-filled tract.

It couldn’t all be throwbacks, though, and one particular comparison confused the late-20s group. Who is Lincoln Loud? And was there really nothing else for Mitchell Trubisky?

How do you explain football to kids?

The Nickelodeon NFL broadcast was full of color and slime. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The Nickelodeon NFL broadcast was full of color and slime. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

CBS decided to air the game simultaneously on Nickelodeon to bring the game to the younger demographic of fans. It’s meant to keep them engaged and interested in watching football in the hopes they stick with it and become fans for life. More specifically, fans who watch the NFL for life.

One of the challenges was how to meet the younger viewers where they are. They might not know all of the penalties or exactly how football works. Hence why the CBS character “Young Sheldon” showed up in the corner.

The announcers tackled what they might call a “sticky” situation and did a fabulous job of simplifying the game without talking down to viewers.

Gabrielle Nevaeh Green, the 15-year-old star of Nick’s “Unfiltered” and the new version of “All That,” was also in the booth as 14-year-old “All That” co-star Lex Lumpkin worked the sideline.

Gabrielle asked questions like how players go to the bathroom during a game, which sounds like a question a 5-year-old would whip out to a stranger at a nice event, and what’s the most difficult part of being a professional player. Explaining what a catch is in the NFL will require extra homework for parents, unfortunately. No matter the child’s intelligence, it will probably result in a failed test and empty red zone trip.

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