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Nicktoons’ NFL series throws out the playbook

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Okay, so the NFL and Nickelodeon are teaming up on a 22-episode animated series that will air during football season. Seems like a smart combination of two powerhouse entertainment entities.

Knowing the rigidity of the NFL, I assumed the series would three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust-type material. But points to the pair for the premise of the series, which is more like a flea-flicker. Just imagine John Facenda reading the following:

“Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core” follows Ishmael, a 10-year old boy who was just an ordinary kid until learning that all 32 NFL stadiums also serve as secret strongholds of an otherworldly benevolent life force that he has been chosen to guard. That life force, once the core of a far-off peaceful planet, has been broken into pieces, or shards, which are hidden in every NFL stadium around the country. An evil villain known as Sudden Death is determined to find the shards, reassemble them and end humanity. To stop Sudden Death, Ish is given the physical abilities of an NFL football player (and a few additional super powers) to battle on and off the gridiron. He must work with the Rusherz, the NFL superheroes representing all 32 teams, to stop the Blitz Botz, robots controlled by Sudden Death. Taught by his mentor, O.T. and guided by NFL players and coaches, Ish learns exactly what it takes to be a true hero.

The series is based on the NFL’s online kids site, NFLRush Zone, and feature shorts of 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 are to 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. So if you’re an NFL fan of any age, get ready to call on Ishamel.

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