What we learned from Super Bowl LV Media Day
In preparation for an NFL championship game unlike any other, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers sat down for a Super Bowl Media Day far different from those in recent memory.
In lieu of in-person interviews in front of a swarm of reporters at the site of Super Bowl LV, players and coaches answered questions via Zoom, which felt especially unfamiliar for frequent Super Bowl participant, Tom Brady.
Brady relishes 10th Super Bowl Media Day experience
The six-time Super Bowl champion, who will appear in a record 10th Super Bowl on Feb. 7, subtly hinted at the fact he has competed in this game nine times before and highlighted the benefit of playing at home in Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers are the first team in NFL history to participate in a Super Bowl on their home field — Raymond James Stadium.
Brady said the football preparation for this Super Bowl is easier than his previous nine (!!) Super Bowls. His family is out of town, so he has an empty house, no traveling. Easier to focus on game prep.— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) February 1, 2021
Along with Brady, teammate Rob Gronkowski has quite a bit of Super Bowl experience under his belt. He is 3-2 in five Super Bowl appearances with Brady and the New England Patriots.
'Gronk' makes math look easy
Gronk has long been a soundbite machine, and on Super Bowl LV Media Day, he was no different.
In an interview with NFL Network's Kay Adams, Gronk revealed the challenges he faced early in the season, as the five-time Pro Bowler was in less-than-stellar shape, after a return from retirement.
As Gronk divulged, head coach Bruce Arians — an expert trash talker — poked fun at Gronk's conditioning during training camp. He roasted the tight end for being "in New England shape. This is Florida shape you gotta be in down here!"
Adams also tested Gronk's unheralded math skills by asking the tight end to compute his number, 87, multiplied by Brady's number, 12. Gronk was a little off on the answer, but came up with his own clever response.
"I know what 87 plus 12 is," he said. "That's 99 problems for the defense."
Another topic of discussion for Gronk was about whether he or Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is the greatest at their position.
Gronk assured the answer would come Sunday, while Kelce took time to discuss his admiration of No. 87 in his own interview.
Brady and Mahomes gush on each other
The Gronk vs. Kelce battle is certainly one to watch Sunday, but the main story line everyone has been talking about ahead of Super Bowl LV is Brady vs. Mahomes.
The matchup will pit last year's Super Bowl winner against the champion from the year before — something that has never happened in the game's 55-year history.
Mahomes, 25, and Brady, 43, will also make up the largest age differential (18 years, 45 days) between two starting quarterbacks in the championship game.
Mahomes, who is chasing his second consecutive title, was just nine years old when Brady became the most recent quarterback to win back-to-back Super Bowls (2003 and 2004).
Brady accomplished the feat by beating Chiefs coach Andy Reid, then the head coach of the Eagles, in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Despite all that Brady has done in his career, he still lauded his younger counterpart. Brady complimented Mahomes' incredible on-field abilities, including his poise in the pocket, field vision, and his "sweet, little whippy arm that (Brady) used to have when (he) was a little bit younger."
Brady didn't shy away from talk about his age on Media Day. And while he may not have the arm he once had, he was quick to open the door for a return to Tampa Bay, after his contract is up at the end of next season.
Arians praises team and staff for Super Bowl run
Brady isn't the only old man set to make history Sunday.
At 68 years and 127 days, Arians will become the second-oldest head coach in Super Bowl history and the oldest head coach to make his first appearance in the Super Bowl.
Only Marv Levy was older (68 years, 180 days), when he guided the Buffalo Bills to Super Bowl XXVIII.
During Arians' media availability, he commended his team for its accountability and commitment during the heightened challenge of navigating a 16-game season, plus the playoffs, during a pandemic.
He also commented on the excellence of his diverse coaching staff.
Naturally, Bill Belichick, Brady's former coach, came up in conversation during Media Day, too.
Brady took the opportunity to show his gratitude for Belichick and mentioned his great relationship with his former coach.
“I certainly could never have accomplished the things in my career without his support and his teachings," he said. "Incredible coach and mentor for me. Had a lot of those in my career, but obviously he’s at the top of the list.”
Miscellaneous media day soundbites
Mushy, complimentary quotes aside, Media Day also hit some lighter, comical notes, as is tradition.
Receiver Tyreek Hill commented on Scotty Miller's assertion that the Bucs receiver is faster than the "Cheetah."
Mahomes and Kelce debated over each other's spirit animal.
In accordance with the fun questions Super Bowl media week is known for, Patrick Mahomes was just asked what his spirit animal is:— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) February 1, 2021
"I'd like to be a wolf running around with my pack...A leader and someone who continues to attack."
He added that Kelce is a giraffe.
Patrick Mahomes says Travis Kelce's spirit animal is a giraffe, now Kelce says Mahomes' spirit animal is a frog. 🦒🐸— Gridiron (@Gridiron) February 2, 2021
"I think he's got a little frog in him. He's already got the voice of a frog. Maybe he'll kiss a princess and turn into a knight." 😂 pic.twitter.com/1Osa8fLwNp
And Reid chewed over a favorite topic — food.
When asked if he would eat a cheeseburger to celebrate a Super Bowl win — like Reid did after his Super Bowl LIV victory — the head coach affirmed a double cheeseburger is in order, should he collect that second consecutive title on Sunday.