Animated skein mixes fantasy with football

The NFL is coming to Nickelodeon via an upcoming animated series, “Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core” for Nicktoons, which has a 22-episode order.

Airing weekly during the September-February NFL season, the series is based on the NFL’s kid website “NFLRush Zone” and will feature shorts running two to five minutes. NFL players including New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and coaches such as Sean Payton of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints will voice themselves.

All 32 NFL teams will be represented on the program, which will cap its season with a one-hour special the day before Super Bowl XLV. “Rush Zone” will also be cross-purposed on Nicktoons.com and NFLRush.com, and excerpts will be shown on NFL stadium scoreboards.

“It is great to be partnering with the NFL,” said Keith Dawkins, Nicktoons general manager and senior veep of Nick programming partnerships. “This new series combines fantasy, sports, game play, teamwork, competition and the age-old theme of good vs. evil, under one compelling new narrative.”

The premise of the show isn’t exactly traditional NFL: 10-year-old Ishmael learns that all 32 NFL stadiums also serve as secret strongholds of an otherworldly benevolent life force that he has been chosen to guard from a villain known as Sudden Death. Ishamel then acquires the abilities of an NFL player and additional superpowers, as well as aid from others including the NFL stars, on his heroic quest.

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