As a kid who grew up in the early 2000s, there were a few obvious, prominent staples of my childhood. Nintendo and Mario and Zelda, as for many, was an obvious crutch. The Bears, for better or worse, were also featured prominently. But like for many millennials, much of my formative years came to be defined by the happy-go-lucky laughter of a yellow sponge, a whimsical nautical town at the very depths of the ocean, and overall wholesome programming on Nickelodeon.
All these years later, seeing two of those staples — the Bears and Nickelodeon — be meshed together on this coming Sunday should be quite the experience.
In case you haven’t heard, Sunday’s Wild Card Game matchup between the Bears and Saints in New Orleans will be simulcast on both CBS and the popular children’s television channel, Nickelodeon. A special edition of The NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon will air alongside CBS’s official pre-game broadcast. For those tuning in, expect to be taken aback by a fun family affair focused on kids with unique graphics, guest reporters, perhaps a certain surprise or three at intermittent points, and popular Nick cartoon characters (yellow sponges, anyone?). To the SpongeBob heads: The festivities begin with The Spongebob SportsPants Countdown Special at 4:00 p.m. ET, hosted by Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. We’ll see if Mr. Romo can accurately predict SpongeBob’s play-calls before any of the snaps.
In addition to being called by Noah Eagle and Nate Burleson, those mentioned guest reporters and broadcasters — Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and Lex Lumpkin — will also feature heavily. Nevaeh Green will be in the play-by-play booth with Eagle and Burleson, while Lumpkin will serve as the lead sideline reporter.
Nevaeh Green and Lumpkin are cast members on Nickelodeon’s kids’ sketch-comedy series All That, as well as panelists on the remotely produced game show Nickelodeon’s Unfiltered. Two rising up-and-comers, both are hoping for only an entertaining family-friendly affair on Sunday, but a thrilling January and February playoff season overall.
I had a short but productive conversation with the All That duo as they get set to call Bears-Saints, and what is certain to be a joyful, green slime-filled affair.
Windy City Gridiron: How are you guys viewing this opportunity with the Bears, Saints, and Nickelodeon on Sunday? Is this your first time calling a professional sporting event?
Gabrielle Nevaeh Green: This will be my first time calling a game, but I’m very happy to have Noah and Nate there to show me the ropes, which gives me a sense of ease to think about. I’m really excited to show off my new skills on Sunday!
Lex Lumpkin: This, too, is my first time “calling a game,” so to speak, given that I’ll be reporting. But I’ve actually gotten to work with the NFL before. I’ve been on hand for Media Night at the Super Bowl. I’ve gotten to meet stars like Rob Gronkowski, Patrick Mahomes, and Travis Kelce.
It’s not my first experience with the NFL, but it is my first time reporting. I think I’m going to do well! (Laughs)
Windy City Gridiron: What are you most looking forward to, concerning the broadcast? Obviously this is a family-centered affair, on Nickelodeon, and it is a playoff game, so it’s not lacking incentives.
Gabrielle Nevaeh Green: I’m excited by the fact that is a family-oriented game. That it’s specifically oriented towards kids and families is incredible because it’s a great introduction to people who haven’t been keeping up with football lately, or haven’t been football fans for a long time.
It’ll be a great way to learn about how the game works, all of the different components included. Ultimately, I’m thrilled to bring football to new fans.
Lex Lumpkin: My personal excitement stems from two amazing programs like the NFL and Nickelodeon creating something together that we haven’t seen before.
To see how it works out, to see how football and Nick come together, well, I’m anxious to get to Sunday already. It’s a new way of watching football, to be sure.
Windy City Gridiron: I’m aware of potential spoilers, but are there any hints you guys could give fans as to surprises or special events within the Nickelodeon broadcast?
Lex Lumpkin: (Laughs) We can give you a little bit, you know?
There’ll be Nick-themed elements throughout. As examples: You might see virtual slime cams going off when either team scores a touchdown. You might see Patrick Star in the stands and audience as a fan.
Be on the lookout.
Gabrielle Nevaeh Green: We also have a special halftime show that will feature a look at Kamp Koral: Spongbob’s Under Years, and it’ll be incredible.
Windy City Gridiron: How would you personally describe this transition from working in a comedy setting like All That, as an example, to something like football, the NFL, and sports? How do bridge that transition on your own?
Gabrielle Nevaeh Green: It’s very similar because we both come from improv backgrounds. We have to be able to think on our feet. We have to be able to spit jokes out on the drop of a dime.
We’re used to this dynamic, in that sense, and I think we’ll give the audience a good show.
Windy City Gridiron: Finally, for posterity’s sake, who’s winning Super Bowl LV?
Lex Lumpkin: (A Colts fan) I’m hoping the Colts. I’m hoping the Colts can go up against somebody like the Bears, again. But, I think Green Bay will get there. The Chiefs won last year, and they are obviously the top seed.
I’ll go with either of those teams as a final answer: The Chiefs or Packers.
Gabrielle Nevaeh Green: (A Rams fan) I can’t disagree with that. The Chiefs did win last year and are the reigning champs. You can’t count them out on that alone. I obviously do hope the Rams make it (laughs), but the Chiefs feel like a safe bet to win it all again.
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