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The NFL Has No Faith in Bruno Mars

Stocks in this article: FOXA PEP VIA.B CMCSA CBS

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Bruno Mars is a Grammy winner, has two platinum albums to his credit and four No. 1 singles here in the U.S.

For just about any gig in entertainment, those are outstanding credentials for a 28-year-old. For the National Football League, broadcast partner Fox  (FOXA) and Super Bowl halftime show sponsor Pepsi  (PEP), they're reasons to panic.

Everybody seemed fairly confident in Mars' abilities back in September, when it was announced that he'd be headlining the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show at East Rutherford, N.J.-based MetLife Stadium. The American public seemed well aware of the various, self-destructive acts he'd commit in the name of love, knew he loved them just the way they were and were pretty sure his song Locked Out Of Heaven wasn't written by Sting or performed by The Police.

So what's the problem? Basically that his career started back in 2010 and that someone in the upper echelons thinks that's going to confuse the olds. That's why, on Jan. 10, aging modern rock staples the Red Hot Chili Peppers were brought in to cover all the demographic bases. You see, since Justin Timberlake tore off a piece of Janet Jackson's closing and exposed her nipple for a fraction of a second during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004, the NFL, its carrier networks and its sponsors have been a bit shy about hiring performers who aren't old enough to run for president.

From 2005 through 2012, the average age of a Super Bowl halftime performer clocked in at 52. That included nobody under 30 and seven headliners over the AARP cutoff age of 55: Paul McCartney in 2005 (62), Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in 2006 (each 62), Tom Petty in 2008 (57), Bruce Springsteen in 2009 (59) and The Who's Roger Daltrey (65) and Pete Townshend (64) in 2010. Even when the show decided to go "young" with Beyonce in 2013, she was 31 and 16 years removed from her major-label debut with Destiny's Child.

As much as we'd like to, it's tough to argue with the result. Two years ago 53-year-old Madonna put on the most-watched Super Bowl halftime show of all time, drawing 114 million viewers. That's more than a third of the entire population and is equivalent to having every human being in California, Texas, New York and Florida watching. Last year, Beyonce and her former Destiny's Child counterparts Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams drew an average of 104 million viewers. Even Gen Xers just graduating high school or finishing college when Destiny's Child's run began have had more than enough exposure to B & Company to tune in with the kids years later.

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