About five minutes shy of 3 p.m. Monday, Patrick Mahomes walked into a back room inside the Chiefs practice facility.
He sat in front of a camera. A light shined on his face. He looked up toward the lens.
“Can I see what I look like?” he said. “Wait, why am I so close?”
He was unaware his feed was already live. So, it could’ve been worse.
Mahomes waited patiently for the next few minutes until the questions began, the strangest of Super Bowl Opening Nights.
The first Super Bowl to be played in the midst of a pandemic wiped out the traditional bright lights and glamour of an Opening Night. A year ago, the spectacle prompted Chiefs players to pull out their iPhones to capture the scene inside Marlins Park in Miami. By the time Mahomes walked across a stage in the outfield, hundreds of reporters awaited.
On Monday, the 45-minute interview session took on a much different personality – from inside the Chiefs practice facility. For the initial 10 minutes, the oddball questions remained in left field. To be sure, the sit-down wasn’t completely absent of them. (What’s your spirit animal, Patrick?)
But think to this moment one year earlier. Do you believe in ghosts? Will you sign my shoe? At one point, Mahomes requested a towel to wipe the sweat from his forehead, adding, “My feet are asleep.”
On Monday, the talk remained mostly about football. Or mostly about Tom Brady.
Yes, as a kid, he looked up to Brady. “If you don’t look up to a guy like Tom Brady, you’re crazy,”
Yes, he would love to follow in Brady’s footsteps and play into his 40s. “I want to play as long as they let me.”
After the 45 minutes had concluded, Mahomes stood up from the chair and walked back to a room he’s occupied most days for the past five months.
Which is actually one benefit of all of this.
In a typical season, teams would fly to the Super Bowl site one week early, practicing and putting in their final game preparations away from their homes. This year, the Chiefs don’t plan to depart for Tampa Bay until Saturday.
The Buccaneers, of course, are already in Tampa, adding one more oddity to the equation. But their Zoom calls Monday morning looked relatively similar to the Chiefs’.
At the conclusion of his, Brady, appearing in his 10th Super Bowl, whipped out his cell phone and captured a picture of the players’ setting – staring into a computer monitor. “This year’s a little different than the others…,” he captioned the photo.
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