Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg perform during the halftime show for Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Apple Music to sponsor Super Bowl halftime show

Apple Music replaced Pepsi as the sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show.

The league shared details of the partnership but didn’t provide contract terms. Sports Business Journal reported the agreement is for five years and $50 million.

The deal is effective with Super Bowl LVII, to be played Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz. The halftime performers have not been announced.

“Music and sports hold a special place in our hearts, so we’re very excited Apple Music will be part of music and football’s biggest stage,” said Oliver Schusser, vice president of Apple Music and Beats. “We’re looking forward to even more epic performances next year and beyond with the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show.”

The NFL said more than 120 million viewers watched the halftime show held during Super Bowl LVI, which featured Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.

Past Super Bowl performers include Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Prince and Madonna.

Pepsi sponsored the show for 10 years.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) grabs his left knee in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Odell Beckham Jr. says torn ACL didn’t occur during Super Bowl

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was believed to have torn his left anterior cruciate ligament during Super Bowl LVI.

Only the free agent doesn’t believe it.

Beckham, who joined the world champion Los Angeles Rams from the Cleveland Browns midway through the 2021 season, tweeted Saturday night that the injury occurred before the big game.

“Krazy thought … really played the whole back half of the season without an acl, and won a super bowl! God doesn’t misss, i swea,” he wrote.

Beckham tore the ACL in the same knee in October 2020 with the Browns, had surgery and returned for the 2021 season. On Nov. 12, the Rams signed him to a one-year deal, a week after he was released by Cleveland amid a deteriorating relationship with quarterback Baker Mayfield.

He left the Rams’ 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13 with what was believed to be a new injury.

During the second quarter, Beckham went to catch a pass but dropped it after jamming his left knee awkwardly. He grabbed at his knee and went down to the turf, with the Rams’ training staff quickly attending to him on the field.

He caught a touchdown in the first quarter for the first score of the game and finished with two catches for 52 yards.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection had 305 receiving yards and five touchdowns for the Rams in eight regular-season games.

He has 531 receptions for 7,367 yards and 56 touchdowns in 96 games (91 starts) with the New York Giants (2014-18), Browns (2019-21) and Rams.

Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff told The Athletic last month that the Rams and Beckham, 29, would like to work out a deal for him to return in 2022.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A display for the Super Bowl LVI Pepsi Halftime show featuring Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar at the Super Bowl LVI Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pepsi ends decade-long run of presenting Super Bowl halftime show

The Super Bowl’s halftime show will go on without Pepsi.

The soda and snack giant announced Tuesday that it will no longer sponsor the performance held at intermission of the NFL’s annual championship game.

“We have decided it’s time to pass the mic,” Pepsi said in a tweet. “Thank you to the amazing artists and fans who helped us create some incredible moments along the way. Now on to the next stage…”

Pepsi had been the show’s sponsor for a decade, but its contract with the NFL expired after the 2021-22 season. Before Pepsi took over in 2012, tiremaker Bridgestone held the rights.

The final halftime show Pepsi presented featured hip-hop icons Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. More than 208 million people watched Super Bowl LVI, where the Rams beat the Bengals 23-20.

Pepsi renewed a four-year deal with the league Tuesday, but it doesn’t include being the namesake of the Super Bowl halftime show. According to CNBC, Pepsi retains “pouring rights” at the top NFL events, like the draft, and Gatorade will remain highly visible on NFL sidelines.

According to multiple reports, the rights to be the presenting sponsor of the halftime show could sell for up to $50 million.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) against the Carolina Panthers prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady’s Bucs back among Super Bowl LVII favorites

Tom Brady’s return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night created an immediate seismic shift in NFL futures odds.

The Bucs, who were a consensus +1000 bet to win Super Bowl LVII before Brady retired six weeks ago, vaulted from longshots to back among the favorites to win their second title in three seasons.

Tampa Bay is now a consensus +750 among the biggest regulated sportsbooks in the United States. That’s behind the Buffalo Bills (+725), even with the Kansas City Chiefs and ahead of the Green Bay Packers (+800), according to TheLines.com.

FanDuel told Field Level Media that within an hour of the breaking news of Brady’s return, he received 64 percent of the bets to win NFL Most Valuable Player honors next season. At +850, he is behind fellow quarterbacks Josh Allen of the Bills and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, who are both +600, along with the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (+800).

Brady’s MVP odds are now +1000 at Colorado-based MaximBet, also behind Allen (+700), Mahomes (+800) and Rodgers (+900).

In addition to shortening the Bucs’ Super Bowl odds from +1900 to +700 and their NFC Championship odds from +1000 to +350, PointsBet told Field Level Media the sportsbook installed Brady’s Over/Under touchdowns market at 35.5 while his Over/Under passing yards market is 4,549.5.

“We are thrilled that Tom has decided to come back this season,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement Sunday night. “We said we would leave all options open for him should he reconsider his retirement and today’s announcement is something we have been preparing for in recent days.

“(Coach) Bruce (Arians) and I have had plenty of conversations with Tom recently that led us to believe there was a realistic chance he would want to come back. Tom is the greatest quarterback of all time who is still playing at an elite level. With this decision now made, we will continue to move forward with our offseason plans to reload this roster for another championship run.”

That followed Brady’s social media post that said his place “is still on the field.”

“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now,” Brady wrote.

“I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd (NFL) season in Tampa.”

Brady announced his retirement on Feb. 1. Just a week later, the seven-time Super Bowl champion said “never say never” about playing again.

Arians said at the NFL Scouting Combine that the “door was never closed” on a Brady return, and “whenever Tom wants back, he’s back.”

Tampa Bay restructured defensive tackle Vita Vea’s contract Saturday to create $7.64 million in cap space, perhaps with an eye toward bringing Brady back.

Brady, at 44, led the NFL in passing attempts (719), completions (485), yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43) in 2021 with the Buccaneers.

Consensus Super Bowl LVII Odds
(Opening odds from Feb. 13)
–Buffalo Bills (+725), +725
–Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2500), +750
–Kansas City Chiefs (+725), +800
–Green Bay Packers (+1400), +800
–Los Angeles Rams (+800), +1000
–San Francisco 49ers (+1100), +1300
–Denver Broncos (+2250), +1400
–Dallas Cowboys (+1450), +1500
–Cincinnati Bengals (+1400), +2000
–Baltimore Ravens (+2100), +2000
–Los Angeles Chargers (+2150), +2000
–Tennessee Titans (+2100), +2200
–Arizona Cardinals (+2250), +2500
–New England Patriots (+2500), +3000
–Indianapolis Colts (+2500), +3000
–Cleveland Browns (+3500), +3300
–Minnesota Vikings (+3150), +4000
–Philadelphia Eagles (+3500), +4000
–New Orleans Saints (+3750), +4000
–Miami Dolphins (+4500), +4500
–Pittsburgh Steelers (+5500), +5000
–Washington Commanders (+5500), +5000
–Carolina Panthers (+5500), +5000
–Las Vegas Raiders (+3500), +5500
–Seattle Seahawks (+3500), +6000
–Atlanta Falcons (+5500), +6500
–Chicago Bears (+7750), +8000
–NY Giants (+9000), +8000
–Jacksonville Jaguars (+10000), +10000
–Detroit Lions (+12500), +12500
–New York Jets (+15000), +15000
–Houston Texans (+20000), +15000

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (29) catches a pass during warmups prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bengals CB Vernon Hargreaves III fined for Super Bowl antics

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was fined $5,555 by the NFL for running on to the field in street clothes to celebrate during Super Bowl LVI, NFL Network reported Saturday.

Hargreaves was inactive for last Sunday’s contest and apparently got caught up in the excitement when Bengals safety Jessie Bates intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the first half.

The sixth-year player galloped on to the field wearing shorts and a Bengals’ shirt to join teammates who were congratulating Bates. The interception kept Cincinnati behind 13-10 in a contest it eventually lost 23-20.

Hargreaves saw action in four regular-season games and one playoff contest for the Bengals. He was picked up on waivers by the team on Nov. 4, one day after being released by the Houston Texans.

The 26-year-old Hargreaves had five tackles in the regular season for Cincinnati.

With the Texans, Hargreaves started five of eight games played and had 27 tackles with one interception.

Hargreaves has 290 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles in 69 NFL games (58 starts). He was the 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Florida by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Also, Pro Football Talk reported that offensive tackle Isaiah Prince was fined $4,722 for unnecessary roughness after a play in which Rams linebacker Von Miller sacked Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow.

Prince started all four of the Bengals’ postseason games. The 24-year-old started four of the 15 games he played in during the regular season.

–Field Level Media

Feb 16, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp and head coach Sean McVay celebrate during the championship victory parade. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rams celebrate Super Bowl title, prepare to ‘Run it Back’

A shirtless Aaron Donald was at the podium outside the Los Angeles Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon after the Rams celebrated their Super Bowl title with a parade through nearby city streets.

The club had a “Run it Back” theme, an expression outlining the expectations of repeating as Super Bowl champions.

While Donald spoke, coach Sean McVay asked for the microphone and started chanting “Run it Back!” at Donald. McVay yelled it five times before Donald offered a response.

“We built a super team,” Donald said. “If we can bring the super team back and we can be world champions again, why not ‘Run it Back?’”

Perhaps right then and there was confirmation that Donald, widely considered the top defensive player in the NFL, will return for a ninth season. There has been speculation that the 30-year-old might consider retirement.

On this day, Donald was more interested in enjoying the Rams’ 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

“We’re having a good time and we’re world champions! World Champions!” Donald punctuated loudly. “We were the last team standing. We’re the best in the world. This is for the city of L.A. We did this at home.

“I want you guys to enjoy this — drink as much as we do tonight.”

McVay’s “Run it Back” chants also can be viewed as a sign he will be back with the team for a sixth season. There also has been speculation that the 36-year-old might not return.

But this festive day was more for celebratory exuberance than another day of football business as the players soaked in the atmosphere of riding in double-decker buses while interacting with fans.

Even the famous “HOLLYWOOD” sign on the hills was changed to say “RAMSHOUSE.”

“It’s unbelievable to be out there today with you guys,” Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “It’s been an unbelievable journey we’ve been on. You guys were right there with us and we appreciate you. Every step of the way. I’m so blessed to be a part of this team.”

Stafford is one of three Rams who are received keys to the city from Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. The others are Donald and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp.

Kupp enjoyed one of the best seasons in history for an NFL wide receiver. He topped it off with two touchdown catches in the Super Bowl, including the decisive one with 1:25 remaining.

Kupp wore a Kobe Bryant Lakers’ jersey to the parade.

“Kobe is synonymous with L.A.” Kupp said. “I feel it’s only right — we’re out here celebrating this championship. Kobe is a part of it. He belongs here. And I’ll tell you what: He set the standard.

“All I know, get back to work. Let’s ‘Run it Back.’”

Among the players who spoke at the podium was offensive left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

It has been a crazy month for Whitworth, who just completed his 16th NFL season. He was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and won his first Super Bowl just days apart at age 40.

“Five years ago, I was told I was a little bit too old,” Whitworth said. “I was told that maybe my time was done. I will tell you this, for every single person that’s standing out there and they were doubted or someone doubted anything you have ever done — bet on yourself.

“It’s five years later and I’m holding this trophy up and I’m 40 years old.”

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cooper Kupp caps record-breaking year with Super Bowl MVP award

Cooper Kupp struggled to put his feelings into words as he looked out over a confetti-covered field Sunday night in Inglewood, Calif.

Moments earlier, Kupp had been named MVP of Super Bowl LVI. He caught eight passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter, as the Rams rallied for a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals to win their first title in Los Angeles.

It marked the best moment of an early but already exhilarating career for Kupp, 28, who entered the league in 2017 as a relatively anonymous wideout from Eastern Washington.

“I don’t feel deserving of this,” Kupp said. “God is just so good.”

Kupp shined throughout the season, finishing with a career-high 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. He led the league in all three categories, earning him the fourth-ever receiving “triple crown.” He averaged 13.4 yards per catch, 114.5 yards per game and converted a whopping 89 first downs in 17 games.

As the Super Bowl started, however, it appeared that Odell Beckham Jr. would take center stage as the Rams’ top receiver. He quickly amassed two catches for 52 yards and a touchdown and seemed to be headed for a big performance against the Bengals’ secondary.

A knee injury to Beckham in the second quarter thinned out the Rams receiving corps — and prompted Los Angeles to turn more toward Kupp, even though the Bengals paid close attention to him throughout the contest.

That was never more evident than the Rams’ final drive, when Kupp hauled in four passes for 39 yards and a touchdown despite tight coverage.

“I’m just so thankful for everyone that’s been in my life, that’s pushed me, that’s encouraged me every step of the way,” Kupp said. “These guys that are standing out here, they challenged me, they pushed me, they made it so much fun to come to work every day.”

Kupp set an NFL record for the most catches during a single postseason with 33. He also joined Larry Fitzgerald in 2008 as the only wideouts to catch a touchdown pass in four games during the same postseason.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Rams top Bengals 23-20 to win Super Bowl LVI

Matthew Stafford tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp with 1:25 remaining to give the Los Angeles Rams a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday at Inglewood, Calif.

Stafford’s third touchdown throw and Kupp’s second scoring catch of the game capped a dramatic 15-play, 79-yard drive. Stafford completed 26 of 40 passes for 283 yards and two interceptions while Kupp caught eight passes for 92 yards.

Aaron Donald recorded two of Los Angeles’ seven sacks and pressured Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to force a desperate fourth-down incompletion with 39 seconds to play. The Rams ran out the clock to earn their second Super Bowl crown — the other coming in St. Louis following the 1999 season.

Burrow was 22-of-33 passing for 263 yards and running back Joe Mixon rushed for 72 yards and threw a touchdown pass on a trick play for the Bengals. Tee Higgins caught four passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Cincinnati made a stunning run to the title game but is now 0-3 in Super Bowls, having lost to the San Francisco 49ers in appearances following the 1981 and 1988 seasons. The Bengals won just six games over the previous two seasons.

Kupp set a postseason record with 33 receptions, breaking the mark of 31 set last season by Kansas City’s Travis Kelce. Von Miller also had two sacks for Los Angeles.

Odell Beckham Jr. also caught a touchdown pass for the Rams before exiting the game in the second quarter due to a left knee injury.

Cincinnati moved ahead for the first time at 17-13 on the first offensive play of the third quarter when Burrow and Higgins connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass. Higgins and Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey were mixed up, with Higgins appearing to twist Ramsey’s facemask. Ramsey fell to the ground while Higgins made the grab and ran the remaining 35 yards for the score.

On the Rams’ next play from scrimmage, Cincinnati’s Chidobe Awuzie notched an interception of a Stafford pass that caromed off the arms of Ben Skowronek, who was in the game due to Beckham’s injury. The Bengals took over at the Los Angeles 31-yard line and eventually grew the lead to seven with Evan McPherson’s 38-yard field goal.

The Rams cut their deficit to 20-16 when Matt Gay booted a 41-yard field with 5:58 left in the quarter.

Stafford threw two first-half touchdown passes as the Rams held a 13-10 lead at intermission.

Los Angeles struck first when Stafford connected on a 17-yard scoring pass to Beckham with 6:22 remaining in the first quarter.

Cincinnati got on the board with McPherson’s 29-yard field goal with 28 seconds to go in the opening period.

The Rams increased their lead to 13-3 when Stafford tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kupp in the right corner of the end zone with 12:51 left in the half. The score was set up by consecutive pass plays of 35 yards to Beckham and 25 to Darrell Henderson Jr.

The extra point failed when holder Johnny Hekker was unable to get the ball down cleanly.

The Bengals answered with a solid 12-play, 75-yard drive that took 7:04. It culminated when Mixon threw a pass for the first time in his five-year NFL career and hit Higgins for a 6-yard score with 5:47 remaining in the half.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams staff attend to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) after a play in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) exits Super Bowl

Los Angeles Rams star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. left Super Bowl LVI with a knee injury and is questionable to return.

During the second quarter Sunday in Inglewood, Calif., Beckham went to catch a pass but dropped it after jamming his left knee in an awkward way. He grabbed at his knee and went down to the turf, with Rams training staff quickly attending to him on the field.

Beckham caught a touchdown in the first quarter for the first score of the game. The Rams led the Cincinnati Bengals 13-10 at halftime.

Beckham joined the Rams in November after being waived by the Cleveland Browns. The three-time Pro Bowler had 305 receiving yards and five touchdowns for the Rams in eight regular-season games, plus 236 yards and a touchdown in three playoff games prior to Sunday.

–Field Level Media