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Puppy Bowl XVII: What you need to know about the biggest game on all fours

Animal Planet / Elias Weiss Frie

If the snacks can’t get you through Super Bowl Sunday, maybe 70 puppies playing football can.

It’s the Puppy Bowl time.

And even though so many beloved events have been canceled in the past year, Puppy Bowl XVII is very much on.

With 70 puppies from 22 different shelters, Sunday’s event will pit Team Ruff against Team Fluff in a canine football match for a common goal: To be adopted.

Here’s what you need to know.

What even is the Puppy Bowl?

Don’t be phased by the roman numerals. This is Puppy Bowl no. 17, the latest in a tradition that began in 2005.

Pups are split up into two teams and placed in a canine-sized football stadium to compete for “touchdowns,” but there’s also a national anthem performance, a halftime show, play-by-play commentary and a “rufferee.”

The winning team captain gets a “Chewy Lombarky Trophy,” but really, all the dogs win.

For the past 16 events, 100% of the puppies and kittens featured were adopted. (Yes, there are kittens — more on that later.)

The Puppy Bowl is all about celebrating adoptable pups and the shelters and staff who help them.

Who’s competing?

This year’s Puppy Bowl features dogs from nine Northeastern states.

You’ll meet Marshall, a deaf Boston Terrier mix training to be a therapy dog for Covid-19 nurses.

You’ll learn about Mona, a 10-year-old Toy Poodle mix from Los Angeles who takes reiki healing sessions.

You’ll see five special needs players and four hearing impaired pups, including Jett, a double front amputee Labrador mix who loves to scamper in the countryside.

And all of these players will be cheered for on the sidelines for the very first time by puppy cheerleaders, Animal Planet said in a statement.

You can meet the players here.

Is it just dogs?

Well, no. For one thing, this year’s Puppy Bowl is going to be very presidential.

First Lady Jill Biden has filmed a public service announcement to air during the event, featuring the two first dogs, Champ and Major. Major is believed to be the first shelter dog with an address at the White House.

Longtime friends Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart will host, with Dan Schachner as the game’s “rufferee.” Celebrating 10 years of “rufferee”-ing for the Puppy Bowl, Schachner will call puppy penalties, ruff-housing and touchdowns.

ESPN play-by-play announcer Steve Levy and “SportsCenter” host Sage Steele will provide human commentary.

And then — there are the kittens. Adoptable kittens will put on the performance of their lives at the annual Kitty Halftime Show.

Okay … I’m sold. Where do I watch?

You can watch this three-hour event on Discovery+ and Animal Planet on Sunday, February 7, starting at 2 p.m. ET.

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