Super Bowl, Super Buzz.
ATLANTA – The low-flying helicopters that zoomed over the CNN Building and Mercedes-Benz Stadium could tell you Super Bowl LIII is just a day or two away.
It was Friday of Super Bowl week and the joint was jumpin’. Temperatures got into the mid-50s. It was HotLanta once again.
The Georgia World Congress Center was buzzing with name after name. A “who’s who” of football, celebrities, etc., thanks in part to Radio Row.
Here are a few takes from the buzz:
Hall of Fame running back and former Los Angeles Ram Eric Dickerson was on hand. Dickerson is thrilled, the L.A. media say, the Rams are back in California and have made it to a Super Bowl. Word is, it eats at him that it never happened for him during his spectacular 11-year career, and he and other former Rams are living vicariously through this current Ram team. He was in the locker room with the team celebrating after the NFC title win over the Saints.
Dickerson was in demand. He knows the Rams have a tall task.
“The Patriots are a very good football team,” Dickerson said. “Iconic coach, iconic quarterback. They have a good running game in Sony Michel.”
There’s a but coming.
“I don’t bet on the last couple of weeks of football, but I like our football team. We have a lot of talent, we have a great coach in Sean McVay; we have a great quarterback in Jared Goff. We have the best running back in football (Todd Gurley) and a one-two punch with C.J. Anderson.”
And more, Dickerson says.
“A great defense,” he said. “Wade Phillips, a guy who has been here before. I like our weapons, and I like our chances. And I feel like that’s it. They’re ready.”
Dickerson can’t get over how much the game has changed, and how much more of a hyped event the Super Bowl is today.
“God, when we played, it was nothing like this,” he said. “It really wasn’t. It’s crazy, all the social media. But I think it’s great for the league.”
The other rock star relaxing in the media center doing a television interview was Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes. Mahomes had an entourage of handlers, scurrying him around as he had Sirius XM interviews to do and wasn’t available to talk about what it was like to helplessly watch that Tom Brady-led drive in overtime. The funny thing is, a year ago, Mahomes could have walked through the center and Radio Row and no one would’ve known who he was, or at least not many. But the scene of the day was him sitting at the Sirius table with a Patriots helmet in front of him. Ouch.
One rare sight: A guy walking around with a Tom Brady shirt who is actually from the Atlanta area and not New England. His name is Henly Nahr. Originally from Curacao, he arrived in Boston in 1988 and was around long enough to fall in love with a Patriots team that, at the time, was horrible.
“I fell in love with the team right away,” Nahr said. “I went through all the bad times. For the last 15-20 years, we made it. I’m a Patriots fan still. I will never change.”
Oh, he must have been persona not grata after 28-3, right. “It was bad,” he said. “Day after day, the Falcons fans, they need to get over it. They have a good team to win (a Super Bowl) also. But we’re going to get our No. 6.”
Speaking of the Rams, will there be that strong of a contingent here? Not many Rams jerseys seen, but Vincent Bonsignore, who covers the team for The Athletic, says they will be here. “It’s coming,” Bonsignore said of the fan support. “They averaged 72,000; yes there were fans from other teams there, but that’s just part of the L.A. story…Lot of transplants. But it’s a process. They didn’t expect to come back to L.A. and be right alongside the Lakers and Dodgers, like they once were. They were gone for too long.
“But seasons like this and last year, you can sense the excitement is building and that’s basically what they knew what to have happen. … But I’m curious about (the fans). The flights coming over, I’ve heard there’s been a lot of Ram fans coming over. There’s a party (tonight) at a restaurant downtown that will be Rams-centric. So, I suspect there’s going to be Rams fans out there.”
Comedian Kevin Hart was on hand at Radio Row. So was current IBF heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and they embraced. Joshua is 6’6. Hart is 5’4. Quite the sight.
Yes, you can tell, Super Bowl Game Day is almost here.