Mon Jan 27 9:24pm ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, right, greets San Francisco 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at Marlins Park in Miami. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, right, chats with San Francisco 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at Marlins Park in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Gerdina Holguin, with TUDN television, poses with Kansas City Chiefs players during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at Marlins Park in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco 49ers' Richard Sherman, second left and Kansas City Chiefs' Tyrann Mathieu, right along with Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, (15) and San Francisco 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo greet each other during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at Marlins Park in Miami. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Kansas City Chiefs' coach Andy Reid, left, stands next to San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at Marlins Park in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco 49ers' Richard Sherman, left, and Kansas City Chiefs' Tyrann Mathieu chat during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at Marlins Park in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
MIAMI (AP) Chants of “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!” broke a moment of a silence that kicked off a more subdued Super Bowl media night.
The NFL opened the most hyped week in professional sports with mixed emotions Monday night, one day after retired superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others died in a helicopter crash in California.
The Kansas City Chiefs took the stage first on what typically is a wild evening filled with zany antics by quasi-media members. One television reporter wearing a short, white dress and sailor's cap asked a few players to do the Floss dance with her but the atmosphere was mostly deflated.
Fans of the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers made some noise. Still, it seemed there were more media than fans in the seats at Marlins Park, making it look a lot like a baseball game in the middle of summer than the NFL's annual version of a music festival.
Players tried to soak in the excitement of their first trip - for many - to the Super Bowl while struggling with the news of Bryant's death.
"I wasn't lucky enough to get to meet Kobe," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. "But the impact that he made in my life, it was huge. The way he was able to go about every single day, when I was a kid, and the work ethic and the intensity that he had to be great every single day.
“Even to this day, I still watch videos on YouTube the day before games and just listen to him talk and how he puts everything in perspective of being great on and off the field with his kids, and his business ventures and then, obviously, his play. It's a tragic thing. Prayers to his family, but he made a huge impact in my life, for sure.”
Mahomes was the one who broke the news to teammate Tyreek Hill on the team's flight to Miami.
"It was like, ‘Man do you believe this?' And I was just like waking up. So I was like ‘Dude, I don’t want to see that right now," Hill said. “He was like ‘Dude, wake up, wake up, wake up!’ and I saw it. I was like, ‘No, I don’t believe it because you know you see stuff online and it be like fake ... especially someone like that. Man, that’s Kobe man. He’s a role model. He’s a GOAT. You don’t expect nothing like that. Someone who has as much money as him, as much fame as him, to go down the way he did him and his family. I don’t know, bro. I just hate talking about stuff like that personally man because sad you know.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid knew Bryant from his years coaching the Philadelphia Eagles. Bryant went to high school in a Philly suburb and had a love-hate relationship with fans in the city because he played for the Los Angeles Lakers. But he was a die-hard Eagles fan and his reaction on social media after the team won its first Super Bowl title two years ago endeared him to many. The city mourned his loss as one of its own.
“It's sad,” Reid said. “A great person, man. I feel bad for his family, sick for his family. They'll rebound. They're strong. They'll live up to his strength.”
Reid is the seventh coach in league history to lead two teams to the Super Bowl. His Eagles lost to the New England Patriots 15 years ago.
The Chiefs are making their first appearance in the NFL title game in 50 years, seeking their second championship.
The 49ers are going for their sixth win in seven trips. Their only loss came against Baltimore in their previous appearance seven years ago.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy, who hasn't had a touch since Week 15 and who was inactive for the AFC Championship against the Titans, said he's not ready to retire after this season. "Nah, I'm not ready to retire, yet," McCoy said. "I still can play. So, I'm not going to retire yet, but that day is coming. That day is definitely coming." The 31-year-old has taken a back seat to running backs Damien Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson down the stretch, and he's unlikely to have much of a role, if any, in the Super Bowl against the 49ers. Shady has become more of a mentor in the running back room than an on-field performer for fantasy owners.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (shoulder) said that he's been playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder since the start of the 2018 season. "So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle said Sunday on the Pardon My Take podcast, "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it -- [The protective sleeve] basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time." He didn't miss any games in 2018 and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377. Kittle said there's "no chance" he has surgery in the future. The 26-year-old has been quiet in the postseason with four catches for 35 yards in two games, but the Niners haven't really needed him with their ground game humming. That could change in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, who will be a free agent in March, emotionally admitted that he would fail a drug test to a police officer during a traffic stop recently. This was caught on video of the police officer's dash cam during the traffic stop. Hunt also admitted that the small amounts of marijuana found in the car were his, but the officer let Hunt off with just the speeding ticket. It remains to be seen if the NFL will consider a suspension for the 24-year-old from this incident. Hunt was released by the Chiefs during the 2018 season due to a domestic-violence incident, and he served a suspension before making his Browns debut in 2019. If he signs with another team this offseason and is given bell-cow duties in the backfield, Hunt could have RB1 upside.
The Los Angeles Chargers have "moved on from Philip Rivers," according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer. Rivers is set to become a free agent in March, and the writing was on the wall when he recently moved his entire family from San Diego to Florida. Rivers will end a 16-year run with the Chargers, but it remains to be seen where he'll land on the free-agent market this offseason. The Buccaneers are a popular expected destination, but that'll only be if they move on from Jameis Winston. Rivers completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2019 for a QB rating of 88.5. He might have a few more seasons left in him, but at 38 years old his arm strength is clearly deteriorating, and he'll probably be more of a QB2 in 2020, depending on where he winds up.
Baltimore Ravens defensive end Matthew Judon is a candidate to receive the team's franchise tag and could also be traded, according to league sources. The Ravens would like to bring Judon back in 2020, but they are also likely to listen to trade offers if another team shows interest. The Niners dealt a second-round pick to the Chiefs last year for defensive end Dee Ford, who then signed a five-year deal worth up to $87.5 million last March. The Chiefs also traded first- and third-round picks to the Seahawks last April for defensive end Frank Clark, who then signed a five-year, $105.5 million deal. Judon has emerged as a high-end pass rusher with at least seven sacks in each of the last three years. The 27-year-old had a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2019 and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox was credited with a 61-yard interception return for touchdown at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle posted three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on four targets for the AFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.
Pittsburgh Steelers DE T.J. Watt posted an 82-yard fumble return for touchdown in the fourth quarter for the AFC at the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews ended up with a game-high nine receptions for an AFC-best 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. registered two grabs for 67 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown in the third quarter, for the AFC at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams ended up with a team-high six receptions for 61 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets for the NFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper finished with three grabs for 24 yards and a touchdown on seven targets for the NFC at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins completed 13-of-22 passes for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26
New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas hauled in five receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown with a team-high eight targets at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.
Jacksonville Jaguars DE Calais Campbell had a solo tackle, a sack and a quarterback hit in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26, winning the Defensive Most Valuable Player award.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson completed 16-of-23 passes for 185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the AFC in the Pro Bowl, winning Offensive Most Valuable Player. He also ran twice for six yards in the 38-33 win.
Houston Texans impending free-agent TE Darren Fells is a player the Texans will try to re-sign this offseason, but he probably will receive interest from multiple teams in free agency.
Houston Texans impending free-agent QB AJ McCarron is a candidate to be re-signed this offseason, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop.
New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin), who is six weeks removed from groin/abdominal surgery, said he is jogging "a little bit" and is on track to take part in "spring football." Mosley has also started a vegan diet after playing in just two games last season because of his injury in his first year in New York. The 27-year-old should be ready for a full training camp heading into the 2020 season, and he should give Gang Green a steadying presence in the middle of the field next season. Mosley recorded 100-plus tackles in four of his five seasons in Baltimore before signing with the Jets in free agency last offseason.
Former Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who did not play at all in 2019, plans to play in 2020 after intentionally taking the season off to rest his body and mind. Berry was cut by the Chiefs in 2018 and has only played in three games since 2016 due to injuries and a bout with cancer. The former first-round pick in 2010 has 14 career interceptions and five touchdowns and could provide a team with a veteran presence in the secondary in 2020. However, it remains to be seen if any team will take a chance on the veteran moving forward. Berry is unlikely to be an asset in IDP leagues if he gets picked up by a team.