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You need to know this: Nickelodeon’s broadcast of the Cowboys-49ers game on Sunday will feature a lot more than slime.

But, yeah, it’s mostly about the slime.

There will be virtual reality mud cannons exploding after touchdowns, just like there were during Nickelodeon’s first co-aircast last year with partner CBS. There will be mud trails on replays to denote player routes. There will be a slime booth at AT&T Stadium. And somewhere after the game, the winning coach risks taking a mud bath. After all, New Orleans’ Sean Payton set a precedent for this past year when he doused himself after the Saints beat Chicago on Nickelodeon’s premiere show.

“Will I be ready to sign? Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy asked this week, not immediately understanding the question. “Oh, thin. OK, I obviously haven’t put Nickelodeon on lately. I don’t even know what slime is. …but anything for the kids.

Which pretty much sums up all that effort. CBS, starring Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, will do a traditional show with dad jokes and plenty of schematic analysis. Nickelodeon, which is under the same ViacomCBS umbrella as CBS, will deliver a different ride.

Spongebob will run between the goal posts on kicks. The first marking line down will be slimy green instead of yellow. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will replace the Xs and O’s on the replay charts. CBS star Iain Armitage Young Sheldon, will explain penalties in a clear but witty way Dean Blandino never dreamed of. There will be freestyle rap by sideline reporter Dylan Gilmer from Young Dylan by Tyler Perry. The Nickelodeon virtual reality airship will add another dimension.

And there will also be football.

Yes, it’s an attempt to attract a younger generation of viewers to the NFL. But, more importantly, it’s designed to be a “co-viewing” experience, said executive producer Shawn Robbins. Children can watch it. As well as their parents. Together. A new concept.

Last year’s game drew 2.06 million viewers on Nickelodeon. This year, the network aired a weekly NFL highlights show – NFL Slime Time — and has a year of experience integrating Nickelodeon IP into the NFL.

“If you like Cowboys and SpongeBob, yes, we’re the place for you,” Robbins said. “Yes, we are trying to reach a younger audience. But we try to teach, not to put anyone down.

Analyst Nate Burleson, who spent a decade in the NFL as a receiver, said, “We want to give the viewer a full show. We want it to be immersive, so whether you’re 5 or 55, we can reach you. It’s about being authentic so you can make things digestible for both groups.

“For me, the man who loved the game leads the broadcast, but the kid in me can spice up the broadcast. I want people to be able to hear the joy in my heart,” he added.

Burleson and Robbins each have three children at home, ages 8 to 17. They have invested time at Nickelodeon with their children. A year ago, Burleson spent as much time reviewing Nickelodeon shows as All-22 Film in preparation for airing.

He was able to answer questions from 16-year-old Nickelodeon star Gabrielle Neveah Green, the third member of the broadcast crew with play-by-play voice Noah Eagle, and push the answers forward in a way that included references to icons from both the network and the NFL.

This year, Burleson, who played against the Cowboys in the wildcard round in 2007 while with Seattle, is also aiming to make history in the Dallas-San Francisco playoff rivalry. Yes, he says, he won’t be talking about anyone’s favorite subject: history. The teams have met seven times in the playoffs with iconic moments including Dwight Clark’s “The Catch” to lead San Francisco to a 28-27 victory in 1982.

“We want to teach people the game, but the story is also important,” Burleson said. “It’s a great rivalry. I think there’s also something pretty cool about old school grainy images. We’re kind of like the cool substitute teacher. We’re going to put together a movie, but you’re going to also learn something.

And if not, you can always sit and watch the mud.

Dallas Cowboys starters including guard Zack Martin (70), guard Connor Williams (52), running back Ezekiel Elliott (21), center Tyler Biadasz (63), receiver Amari Cooper (19) and quarterback Dak Prescott (4) waits to enter the game during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday January 8, 2022.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) takes an onside kick and runs for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. The Cowboys won , 41-33.

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