MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Super Bowl 54 festivities stretch across South Florida, from Hard Rock Stadium to Miami Beach and even Marlins Park where players and coaches made themselves available Monday night for Super Bowl Opening Night.
Super Bowl Opening Night is the national kick off for Super Bowl LIV festivities and it is the only event where players and coaches from both teams are in the same location at the same time, except for the big game of course.
Media from around the world asked them anything and everything. The event also featured live entertainment, special appearances and autographs by NFL players and legends, team mascots, as well as fan photo opportunities and the chance to see Chiefs and 49ers players up close and listen as they answer media’s questions via free radios distributed throughout the venue.
Some reporters at media night broke out a variety of games to liven up the event.
One reporter gave Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill the kid’s game “Let’s Go Fishing” before asking him to pick a question out of a bowl. Someone else carried around a “Rockem Sockem Robots” game.
Two women wearing football deely boppers on their heads went around with flashcards for a game, then tossed a football back and forth with players on the crowded turf at Marlins Park.
They spent time with Chris Lammons, a defensive back on the Chiefs’ practice squad who said this is what he expected.
“It’s the Super Bowl, man. It’s one of the biggest events in the world,” Lammons said.
Brett Veach never grows tired of telling the story about how he uncovered Patrick Mahomes.
Now the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, Veach had just been promoted from a rather low-level job as a pro and college personnel analyst to then-GM John Dorsey’s right-hand man. It was 2015 and Veach was watching film of Mahomes from Texas Tech when coach Andy Reid walked by his office door and asked what he was doing.
“I told him, ‘I’m watching the next quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs,'” Veach recalled with a smile Monday night.
Veach spent most of the next two years showering Dorsey and Reid with video clips of Mahomes, to the point where they told him to back off. But it must have worked. The Chiefs traded up to select Mahomes with the 10th pick in the 2017 draft, then turned the starting job over to him after a year playing behind Alex Smith.
Now, the second-year GM and second-year starting QB have the Chiefs in their first Super Bowl in 50 years.
Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones is a master at switching between silly and serious in a split second, and that sure came in handy as he fielded a pair of questions Monday night that could not have been more different.
The first: What does he think of the “tomahawk chop,” which fans do in unison throughout home games, given that some Native Americans view it as disrespectful to their heritage.
“It’s something that brings the fans together,” he said, “but I can definitely see how there would be a misunderstanding.”
The second: Would you rather date Shakira or Jennifer Lopez, the two superstars who will perform together during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday night.
“Listen,” Jones said, “I love Shakira. But J-Lo is amazing. Other than my girlfriend — you got to cover the bases — if I could take any woman on a date, it would be J-Lo.”
Tyrann Mathieu was caught in a rather surreal moment during the Super Bowl’s opening night festivities.
He was answering questions from a gaggle of reporters when one of them asked who the All-Pro defensive back admired growing up. The first two names that popped into his head were Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss and Deion Sanders, the Hall of Fame cornerback who now works as an analyst for NFL Network.
“They just played the game with swagger. They made splash plays,” Mathieu explained.
Unbeknownst to him, Sanders happened to be walking right behind Mathieu as he talked. The former Cardinals and Texans safety did a double-take before letting a smile slip and proceeding to the next question.
Mecole Hardman has title game experience heading into his first Super Bowl as a rookie receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hardman caught an 80-yard touchdown pass for Georgia in the college championship game two years ago before the Bulldogs lost 26-23 in overtime to Alabama.
But Hardman after soaking in the chaos of media night at the Super Bowl, Hardman says this game is a whole different story.
“It’s definitely a bigger stage,” he said. “But playing in that game is at least in the same ballpark for preparation.”
Raheem Mostert is with his seventh NFL team. None of the other six is here at the Super Bowl. Mostert’s 49ers are.
It’s a tribute to the special teams star turned game-breaking running back’s perseverance.
“I took a piece of every city I was in,” Mostert said Monday night, “and applied it to my life and I will always cherish that.
“You go through tough things, but you don’t lose faith. My wife was with me through all the cuts and did a great job of keeping me level-headed, letting me know I had a purpose in life to fulfill. It was tough, but we made it through.”
Mostert was with Philadelphia, Miami and Baltimore and released by each of them in 2015. The next year, it was the Browns, Jets and Bears saying hello and goodbye.
His career with the 49ers was not a headline grabber; he was mostly a special teamer, though a good one. Then he began getting the ball as a running back, and in this postseason he’s been one of the biggest stars in the NFC.
He ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the 37-20 win over Green Bay for the NFC title.
“It’s having the faith and never losing the faith,” he said. “It’s been quite a journey.”
As for the local connection, former Miami Dolphins linebacker and potential Hall of Famer Zach Thomas, former Miami Hurricanes linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Dolphins 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins were in attendance.
Fans in attendance also had the chance to win prizes, including two tickets to Super Bowl LIV by checking in with the Super Bowl LIV OnePass app.
The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers both arrived at Miami International Airport on Sunday evening.
A handful of local politicians and officials were at the airport to greet the teams, as loud hip-hop music blared through the maintenance hangar that was being used for the arrivals.
No players or coaches spoke to reporters inside the hangar. That had to wait until Monday night.
Marlins Park underwent a transformation for the event, including temporary seating in the infield just in front of home plate, with a bridge that connected that seating to the main concourse. A podium was set up just beyond where the pitcher’s mound usually rests.
This was also the first time fans were allowed onto the floor where interviews took place.