January 29, 2018

Super Bowl LII Opening Night: Brady's gloves, Belichick's poker face and Gronk's absence

Super Bowl LII NFL
012918_Brady-media-day_usat Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during Super Bowl LII Opening Night at Xcel Energy Center.

The annual circus that is Super Bowl media day (now known as "Opening Night") arrived in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday night and, as usual, it didn't disappoint. Or it did, depending on your feelings toward awkward interactions between NFL players who are trying to avoid making headlines and reporters who are doing the exact opposite, even if that means wearing a shark costume or asking Bill Belichick, who doesn't have a grandson, about his grandson.

Both of those things happened, by the way. And, in defense of the guy who asked Belichick about his grandson, the Pats coach does have a young granddaughter. 

Unfortunately, the main attraction at this 53-ringed circus, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, was not in attendance as he recovers from the concussion he sustained in the AFC Championship Game. Gronk, who returned to practice recently, was seen earlier in the day at the Pats send-off party in New England but didn't speak.

The biggest crowds, unsurprisingly, were around Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, which must've been awkward for  center David Andrews. 

What couldn't see in that photo of Brady is that he's back to wearing gloves for his press conference, just like he did leading up the AFC title game after suffering an injury to his throwing hand. What's he hiding under there?

Whatever it is, the five-time Super Bowl champion had nothing but good things to say about his upcoming opponent.

"The Eagles have had a great year," Brady said. "It’s two of the best teams in the league playing and it’s going to be a great test. They are well coached, good in all threee phases. 

"There’s no underdog in the Super Bowl. They’re the first seed in the NFC; they’re 13-3. They had an incredible season. I don’t buy into any of that [underdog talk]. I think they are as dangerous as any team in the league. 

"It’s going to come down to whoever plays the best … hopefully it’s us."

Pretty much.

This was about as interesting as Brady got on Monday night:

* * *

Speaking of boring, Belichick wasn't much more enlightening than his quarterback.

Then again, that shouldn't be surprising. Even the NFL Network was prepared with a "Smile Counter." I'm pretty sure this is where it topped out.

Brady and Belichick aren't just boring because they're extremely closed off, it's also because they've been here before and aren't as in awe of the moment as what you'll see from some of the Eagles players. As for how that experience will help them on Sunday, veteran LB James Harrison says it's pretty simple: it won't.

And Belichick agrees.

Belichick wouldn't even give a hint about his wardrobe selection for Sunday night, saying that he'll decide what hoodie he's wearing until game day.

* * *

Before Eric Rowe was a Super Bowl winning cornerback in New England, he was an Eagles' second-round pick who showed promise in his rookie after being drafted out of Utah in 2015. But just before the start of the 2016 season, the Birds suddenly traded him to the Patriots for a conditional draft pick. 

Now, set to face his former team on Sunday, he's over the fact that the Eagles were so quick to give up on him.

“No, not really," Rowe said Monday night when asked if there were any hard feelings. "In this league … obviously [at first], I was pretty upset. But now it’s understanding its a business and that’s just how this goes. So there’s nothing personal once I got over that. I mean guys get traded every year, you just gotta move on because if you don’t move on, you’ll be out of the league and that will be even worse. 

“After I got over that initial feeling, I was like, it’s just a business, I gotta keep working on my game and keep my career moving.”

I'm sure the Super Bowl ring he won with the Patriots last year – and having a chance for a second this year – doesn't hurt either.

But should his former team upset his current team on Sunday, let's just say Rowe hasn't forgotten how hungry Eagles fans are for their first Super Bowl title...

“I think they would tear down the city," he said. "I saw the chaos after the NFC championships. I know that’s a passionate fan base. They literally give it everything they have how to show support to …it doesn’t matter what sport it is. 

“I know a Super Bowl, to that town, would just mean everything to them.”


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