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Mural project combining art and Sunday Night Football kicks off in Tampa

The Vitale Bros. will paint the first five-yard mural at the NFL Kickoff Experience on Thursday.
This mural of Tom Brady is one of a pair celebrating the Bucs in St. Petersburg, and is a collaboration between the Vitale Bros. and Tes One. The Vitale Bros. will kick off NBC Sports' Sunday Night Football interactive art campaign in Tampa.
This mural of Tom Brady is one of a pair celebrating the Bucs in St. Petersburg, and is a collaboration between the Vitale Bros. and Tes One. The Vitale Bros. will kick off NBC Sports' Sunday Night Football interactive art campaign in Tampa. [ Courtesy of Johnny Vitale ]
Published Sep. 8

The worlds of sports and art collide thanks to a mural project from NBC Sports that coincides with the network’s Sunday Night Football coverage. And it kicks off Thursday in Tampa.

The interactive art campaign, called CanVS, commissions artists in each host city during the NFL season’s Sunday Night Football games to paint a five-yard-long canvas inspired by real-time input from fans. It begins in Tampa with St. Petersburg-based artists the Vitale Bros., at the 2021 NFL Kickoff Experience on Thursday ahead of the Bucs-Cowboys season opener.

Fans can participate with suggestions based on their favorite teams either onsite or online by visiting snfcanvs.com. The website includes each week’s completed mural, video of live painting, a “word cloud” with phrases or words inspired by the teams, the 2021 Sunday Night Football schedule and a sweepstakes to win tickets to Super Bowl LVI.

Related: Take a selfie with the Bucs mural in St. Petersburg

By the end of the season, 100 yards of murals will be on display together as part of Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.

Johnny Vitale of the Vitale Bros. said they were honored to participate because they like being supportive of Tampa Bay. “We like to be associated with winners,” he said.

But they’ll have to take a freestyle approach to the paintings, as suggestions from both Bucs and Cowboys fans come in.

Retired NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, who is also an artist, is the face of the campaign and will host the experience in Tampa. He will host additional events both in-person and virtually throughout the season.

On Saturday in Los Angeles, ahead of the Sunday Night Football debut game when the Los Angeles Rams host the Chicago Bears at SoFi Stadium, artist Michaelangelo Rivera will paint at Universal City Walk, a CanVS activation space. The mobile activation space will travel to four additional markets this season, with most of the campaign happening digitally.

The Bucs host one Sunday Night Football game this season, but information on who will paint that canvas was not yet available.

Lyndsay Signor, NBC Sports’ senior vice president of consumer engagement, said in a phone interview that the campaign was a unique way to think differently about bringing fans back to Sunday Night Football, she said.

“It gives us the opportunity to bring fans on the road to the Super Bowl with us,” she said, adding that it brings in the community, highlights local artists and is a “cool way to paint the season.”

The 2021 NFL Kickoff Experience starts at noon on Thursday at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in Tampa. It features a concert by Ed Sheeran and a performance by the FAMU marching band. Admission is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. The NFL OnePass app is required for admission and is available at nfl.com/kickoff/2021.