How the NFL will honor health care workers at Super Bowl LV

By: JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes won’t be the only stars of Super Bowl LV.

The health care workers who have been working tirelessly to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay will be honored during the first Super Bowl game ever played during a pandemic.

Here is how the NFL is putting a spotlight on health care workers.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has invited 7,500 health care workers to attend the game, the NFL announced last month.

Only 22,000 of the nearly 66,000 seats at Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be available for fans.

Most will come from hospitals and health care systems in the Tampa and central Florida area, but all 32 NFL teams will also select health care workers from their communities, according to the NFL.

All of the health care workers who will attend will have received both doses of the vaccine.

In addition to the tickets, a game day experience will be held for the health care workers, the NFL said.

“These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude,” Goodell said in a statement.

The NFL is hosting the #TikTokTailgate, a pregame event for the health care workers in attendance, which will be headlined by pop star Miley Cyrus.

Cyrus confirmed the news in several Instagram posts.

“I can’t wait to put on a show for the NFL’s honored guests before the game…. Health care workers from Tampa and around the country!” she wrote Jan. 24.

Only health care workers will be in attendance, but the event will be live-streamed, according to the NFL.

The event will also include special gusts, surprise musical performances and game day cooking segments, according to CBS, which is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year.

Suzie Dorner, a nurse manager at Tampa General Hospital, will not only be cheering for her hometown football team but will be honored on the field as well.

Dorner, who has been named as one of the three honorary Super Bowl captains, has been working in Tampa for more than eight years and has “worked selflessly, as all nurses do, to prioritize others and work endless hours” throughout the pandemic, according to the NFL. She lost two grandparents to COVID-19 as well.

Dorner was “speechless” upon hearing the news, she told Derrick Brooks, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and chair of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV host committee.

The pandemic has been “really mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting” for all health care workers, Dorner said.

“To be honored at the Super Bowl makes everything that we’ve all been through this year, it makes it a little bit more tolerable and something to celebrate everything that we’ve been through, the good and the bad things,” she is seen telling Brooks in a YouTube video posted by the NFL.

The honorary captains — Dorner, a Los Angeles educator, and a Marine Corps veteran from Pittsburgh — will take part in the coin toss ceremony before kickoff Sunday.

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