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49ers, Chiefs open Super Bowl week with media circus fit for Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco answered a question about whether he prefers hard or soft tacos (he’s partial to quesadillas), and then looked up.

“Ay Blues, where y’all going?” Pacheco shouted.

Pacheco was talking to the three painted members of the Blue Man Group, the popular tourist attraction trio.

From the outlandish to bizarre, Monday night’s Super Bowl media availability for the 49ers and Chiefs felt very Vegas. Bruce Buffer made an appearance, NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson and a troupe of dancers dressed in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band attire. Nick Bosa and Travis Kelce gave themselves wrestling names (The Bear and the Big Yeti, respectfully). A German media member asked Chiefs coach Andy Reid about cheeseburgers. George Kittle sorted his teammates into Harry Potter houses.

There were questions that ranged all topics, asked by reporters from across the world, of all ages. Each player and coach was complimentary of the opponent and cordial while they shared the stage at the 50-yard line. And as with most everything in Las Vegas, it was an event: Thousands of fans paid to watch the theater and purchase merchandise and concessions.

In the hyper-modern Allegiant Stadium, 11 players the Chiefs and 11 more 49ers spent an hour at an individual podium as their teammates and coaches roamed among hundreds of reporters. 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy did a Spongebob impression. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City’s star quarterback, compared himself to Steph Curry. Travis Kelce got booed for some reason.

“She’s unbelievable,” Kelce answered to one of dozens of questions about his extremely famous girlfriend Taylor Swift, who made history by winning her fourth Grammy for Album of the Year.

“She’s rewriting history herself. I told her I’ll have to hold up my end of the bargain and come home with some hardware, too.”

Kelce’s relationship with Swift made him the star of the circus, with a massive horde of media assembled in front of his podium 30 minutes before the availability even began.

But the 49ers have plenty of stars of their own. That’s how they got here: by surrounding Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 draft, with an amazing supporting cast of Christian McCaffrey, Trent Williams, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Fred Warner and Bosa.

When the Chiefs’ time was up and the 49ers took the field for their turn, several big names shared the stage for interviews. Mahomes and Purdy, Kelce and Kittle, McCaffrey and Pacheco. Warner and Chiefs pass rusher Chris Jones egged on the crowd. To their right, coaches Kyle Shanahan and Andy Reid fielded questions. There were laughs, handshakes and hugs. At the end of the week, there will be blocks, hits and holds.

“It still feels like a dream,” said Williams, the 11-time Pro Bowler playing in his first Super Bowl.

Williams hadn’t seen hoopla quite like this before Monday night. Bosa, who was a rookie on the Super Bowl LIV team that lost to Kansas City, has experience in the bright lights.

“It’s awesome,” Bosa said. “I think it’s hard to top Miami, and I think they may have topped it.”

Bosa wasn’t safe from some of the more inane questions. Asked which celebrity he’d most want on his team, he said he’d choose Kevin Parker of Tame Impala fame to play kicker.

There were far fewer acrobatics than a Cirque de Soleil show, fewer laughs than at Carrot Top. But the crowd seemed engaged for the entire three hours and most of the field was so packed that the only way to move was by brushing shoulders.

Chiefs rookie standout receiver Rashee Rice said the night’s media frenzy could help mentally prepare him for Sunday’s game.

“I didn’t know it was going to be like this at all,” Rice said at his podium. “But I just kind of got a little taste of what the game’s going to be like — it’s going to be a sea of red regardless.”

When the event ended at 8 p.m., Hanson, the beloved RedZone host who emceed the event, urged fans to hydrate and pace themselves. The week is only just beginning, after all.

Danny Emerman , 2024-02-06 05:37:19

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