Springsteen set for Super Bowl

Rocker to perform at halftime show

NEW YORK — After dismissing rumors floated in the media in early August, NBC and the NFL have announced that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will, in fact, headline the Super Bowl XLIII halftime show at Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 1.

The Peacock made the announcement during Sunday night’s Philadelphia-Chicago contest, suggesting that a deal was struck sometime during the past week.

The New Jersey rocker, who had been pursued by the league for many years, recently concluded a sold-out tour for his most recent release, “Magic,” which logged platinum-plus sales domestically.

The gridiron gig will put the Boss in front of his biggest audience ever. Last year’s contest, which aired on Fox, garnered 148.3 million viewers and reached more than 230 nations and territories.

If those numbers are a testament to the game’s mushrooming cultural stature, so is the evolution of the game’s halftime talent. Collegiate marching bands were the order of the day for the first three Super Bowls, which were strictly fan-only affairs. As the ’60s gave way to the ’70s, Greatest Generation standbys like Carol Channing, Ella Fitzgerald and Woody Herman suited up, along with fresh-faced motivational/musical troupe Up With People, which made a number of appearances.

But by the ’90s, as Super Sunday began to achieve hip, quasi-holiday status, the league and the nets started recruiting top pop stars like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Phil Collins and Christina Aguilera.

Springsteen follows in the footsteps of a string of classic rock legends — Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — that have taken the stage in the wake of Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” during Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.