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Ed Sheeran is helping NFL kick off new season — here's how

The "Shape of You" singer is kicking off the 102nd season of the NFL in a pitch-perfect way.
/ Source: TODAY

On Friday, Ed Sheeran joined TODAY with a big announcement: He's kicking off the 2021 NFL season with a special concert!

"Yeah, my announcement is, I am playing the NFL Kickoff in Tampa Bay on Sept. 9," he shared exclusively with Erin McLaughlin on TODAY. "And yeah, I'm really excited. First time I've done anything really musically for the NFL, and I'm a big fan."

He added, "It's a big moment for me. I've never done anything really with the NFL."

The 2021 Kickoff Experience will happen Thursday, Sept. 9, at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park in Tampa, Florida, beginning 12 p.m. EST that day. Sheeran will take the stage at 7 p.m. EST, right before the kickoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Parts of Sheeran's performance will air on NBC prior to the network's coverage of the game.Luigi Rizzo / Pacific Press / Getty Images

One reason why this is such a big deal for the 30-year-old musician and four-time Grammy Award-winning artist is because when he moved to the United States in 2013, one of his first connections to American culture was football.

"I came over to America properly and moved here in 2013, moved to Nashville," he explained. "I went to Walmart and I bought some pajamas. I just went and bought pajamas ... and I was like, 'What's this symbol?' I found out the symbol was the Tennessee Titans, and I've been a Titans fan ever since."

Now based back in England, the "Shape of You" singer added, "It's quite difficult to watch American football in England because it's on so late but I'm committed."

The other big happening in Sheeran's life right now is the new addition to his family: a baby girl, Lyra, who his wife, Cherry Seaborn, gave birth to in 2020.

With an anticipated new album due out soon, Sheeran revealed baby Lyra was his test audience.

"I did it just to work out which songs go where and how it flows," he explained.

"She's moving more now, she's got a groove, she's got a groove. I don't know whether I am happy about the musical element, you know? I don't know if I'd want her to get into the same industry as me but we'll see."

On how he has changed amid the pandemic and being a new dad, he said, "I think, you know, that it's such a massive life change having a kid."

"I'm less of a party boy. I'm a bit more, you know, bed is like 9 o'clock now because I have to get up at whatever time to hang out with my daughter. But yeah ... I prefer this life."