Puppies hit the gridiron for the 16th annual Puppy Bowl

STORY:

It has become a Super Bowl Sunday tradition, gathering around the television screen and watching Team Ruff and Team Fluff bumble into the end zone.

The Puppy Bowl is back for its 16th year.

This year 96 playful puppies from animal shelters from across the U.S. and around the world will run, sniff and scratch on the football field.

The rules are simple, according to Puppy Bowl Ref Dan Schachner.

"It's drag a chew toy or kick a chew toy into the end zone. Doesn't matter which end zone, doesn't matter which chew toy. As long as you're there, it counts."

Months before the Puppy Bowl airs on Animal Planet, filming is underway inside a large set in New York City.

It is a gigantic production requiring casting, dozens of volunteers and multiple days of shooting. (hope to get stat facts)

"We cast the puppies," said Animal Planet Senior Vice President of Production Erin Wanner.

"The executive producer has a wall up with the pictures of all the dogs that we're casting. We want to make sure we have a variety of different kinds of dogs."

Each puppy in the Puppy Bowl is available for adoption.

The puppies range in age from 12 to 26 weeks old.

"We are very excited about lots of our puppies. We've got lots of puppies in the running for MVP (Most Valuable Puppy)," said Wanner. "I can't give away anything before the big game day. You'll have to tune in to find out."

For animal lovers, it is the ultimate 'tail-gating' event. Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl XVI airs at 1500EST, just before the other big game on Super Bowl Sunday.

(Production: Angela Moore, Emmanuel Tambakakis)