- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears will headline the “NFL Kickoff Live” event scheduled for the Mall on Sept.4 before the Washington Redskins’ opener against the New York Jets, the NFL announced yesterday.

The NFL also is developing a salute to the U.S. military, particularly those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will include more than 20,000 troops and their families.

The free pregame concert, the second such event to mark the beginning of the NFL season, is another part of the league’s ongoing efforts to turn each major date on its calendar into a national event that resonates beyond football and into popular culture. Pre- and in-game entertainment for the Super Bowl and Thanksgiving Day games also have received additional league emphasis in recent years.

Each of the aforementioned acts is a veteran of NFL events. Other performers likely will be added before the event.

The concert will be from 6 to 9p.m., timing that almost certainly will preclude Redskins ticket holders from attending. ABC will air one hour of the concert (8-9p.m.), most of it live. In a slight departure from previous shows, the NFL is co-producing the TV broadcast and selling the advertising time.

Also helping fund the event is a sponsorship from Pepsi Vanilla. Pepsico became a major NFL corporate sponsor last year.

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