A summary of the coverage from my first Super Bowl. I shook hands and talked with players, took pictures, videos and witnessed the hype firsthand.
A plethora of people flocked to Minneapolis for a week filled with all things Super Bowl. The Mall of America and the Minneapolis Convention Center featured a number of events from team press conferences to a man doing a back flip on a snowmobile.
I arrived on the scene Thursday afternoon just in time to pick up my credentials and head over to the New England Patriots press conference. I sat in on Head Coach Bill Belichick’s media time and listened to reporters from all over the world question him on the upcoming game. One reporter rose above the rest when he got Belichick to smile.
After Belichick addressed the media, the players took their positions on risers. Tom Brady’s and Rob Gronkowski’s risers were the locations for the majority of cameras, but I still managed a shot or two when a hole presented itself.
I made my way over to James White’s table to catch a glimpse of a fellow Wisconsin alum. I asked White if he had a chance to see former Badger teammates Corey Clement and Beau Allen who play for the Eagles. He said he had not seen them or spoken with them.
In the floor below, many other Patriots talked with the media including Danny Amendola and Stephen Gostkowski. It was easy to determine which players tolerated the media and which wished they were elsewhere. After only seeing Belichick, Brady and the rest of the team on television my entire life, seeing them in person offered a brand new point of view of these professional athletes who make millions of dollars. While they definitely possess a much greater athletic ability than myself, they are also human beings that can be talked to as easily as I would talk to friends and family.
That evening, I went to the Timberwolves game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Many celebrities were in attendance including Belichick, boxer Floyd Mayweather, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and rapper Lil John who performed during halftime.
Friday afternoon, I covered the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) panel. RISE is an organization that uses professional sports to bring awareness to societal inequalities. Current and former players including retired running back Rashad Jennings, Jets quarterback Josh McCown and Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson discussed their role in RISE and shared individual stories of their personal experiences with racism and prejudice.
Jennings told a personal anecdote from high school of being invited to dinner where he discovered KKK symbols throughout the house. Realizing the environment he was in, Jennings excused himself from the dinner. A few years later, the father of the family approached Jennings and apologized.
Current tight end for the Cleveland Browns, Seth DeValve, appeared as a panelist. As a Browns fan, I hoped to introduce myself, but did not get a chance. But as fate would have it, I ran into DeValve the following day in a skywalk and officially met him and his wife.
The fan-friendly events all took place at the Super Bowl Experience in the Minneapolis convention center. Here, fans could take pictures with players, see the Lombardi Trophy, get autographs and participate in football activities such as running a 40 yard dash and kicking a field goal.
My media credentials granted me the ability to skip the lines and snap pictures of players. I did stand in line to get Josh McCown’s autograph and spoke with him for a brief moment about the RISE panel the day before. I walked right up to the trophy and grabbed some quick pictures and also approached a desk where Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins was signing autographs to take a picture.
Make sure to check out the gallery attached to this article of all my pictures and videos from my three days in Minneapolis.