Bryant looms over Super Bowl
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[January 28, 2020]
By Steve Keating
MIAMI (Reuters) - Kobe Bryant loomed
over Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, looking down on the Kansas
City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers from a giant screen as the NFL
paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers great killed in a helicopter
Opening night has usually been a light-hearted and often zany start
to Super Bowl week as the players from both teams dive into a media
mosh pit for a prime time question-and-answer free-for-all where
very little is out of bounds.
But the night got off to a muted start when the lights dimmed at
Marlins Park and Bryant's image appeared on the jumbo-tron staring
down on the field as the crowd fell quiet for a moment of silence in
tribute to the 18-time NBA All-Star who died in crash on Sunday with
his daughter Gianna and seven others.
Kansas City's young quarterback Patrick Mahomes never met Bryant but
said that did not prevent the five-time NBA champion from having a
massive impact on his life.
"To this day I still watch videos of him talking about life and
business and his family and how he motivates himself every single
day," Mahomes, told a wall of television cameras and reporters. "I
still listen to those things.
"The way he approached the game, how much dedication and time he put
into it was a huge impact on me.
"Just that mentality he had to be great every single day, it was
While the atmosphere inside the dome was subdued Chiefs jovial head
coach Andy Reid, dressed in what has become a trademark Hawaiian
shirt, lightened the mood as he fielded off-beat questions on every
subject from steaks to speedos - noting he will not be spotted in
such attire on South Beach.
With Super Bowl tickets on the resale market averaging more than
$7,000, some fans jumped at the chance to get a closer look at the
two teams, paying $25 to watch players mill about answering
[to top of second column]
A tribute is displayed for Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant
before Super Bowl LIV Opening Night at Marlins Park. Mandatory
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
While the NFL Opening Night production gets bigger every Super Bowl
the crowds appear to have gotten smaller and the scene tamer.
Under the pall of Bryant's death, the evening also lacked the
energetic madness of the past years.
Missing were the usual cast of zanies dressed in wedding gowns and
super hero costumes jostling with the beat writers to get their
This Super Bowl is first as a head coach for 49ers' Kyle Shanahan
but he took it all in familiar stride having watched his father Mike
Shanahan guide the Denver Broncos to two Lombardi trophies.
"I've been around it my whole life," said Shanahan. "I was pretty
fortunate to be the son of a head coach.
"I was a ball boy for people like Jerry Rice and Joe Montana and
John Elway and got to go to a lot of Super Bowls growing up."
(Reporting by Steve Keating; Additional reporting by Amy Tennery;
Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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