Tom Brady-Buccaneers marriage was a match made in Super Bowl heaven

Getty Images
0 Comments

TAMPA, Fla. — “Hey dude,” Bruce Arians said to Tom Brady as confetti fell on their world champion heads Sunday night. “You remember our first conversation?”

“Vividly,” Brady said.

“Me too,” Arians said. “ ‘You come, and we’ll win the Super Bowl.’ “

He came, he saw, he conquered . . . even though so many were convinced Brady was kaput after the embarrassing wild-card loss that ended his New England career 13 months ago; even though the meticulously-organized Brady didn’t have his first competitive practice with his new team till Aug. 14; even though the three men who scored the four Tampa Bay touchdowns in Super Bowl LV weren’t on the team 10 months ago; even though the Bucs lost at home to the Saints, Rams and Chiefs by a total of 41 points in November; and even though the Bucs’ road to winning a Lombardi Trophy would necessitate victories over Drew BreesAaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes in the span of 22 days.

But by the time Brady’s seventh Super Bowl title was captured Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium, it didn’t seem anything but logical.

That’s because Brady had so much help from his new pewter friends in routing the defending world champs 31-9. Gronkowski, coaxed out of retirement by Brady last April (“What else was I gonna do in a pandemic?” Gronk told me post-game) scored the first two touchdowns on throws from Brady. Antonio Brown, coaxed onto the team, in part, by Brady in October, ran a great route and caught a laser TD from Brady for the third score. And Leonard Fournette, mopey when Ronald Jones grabbed the running back job in midseason, scored a redemptive TD among his 135 scrimmage yards. “Rob and Antonio are never on this team without Tom,” agent Drew Rosenhaus said at halftime, and he would know: He reps Gronk and used to rep Brown.

The help came from a defense that smothered Patrick Mahomes, who has the best chance in this golden age of quarterbacks to be the heir to Brady. (Someday. Not now.) Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles came up with the game plan of his life. The line contained Mahomes so well Bowles called only four blitzes all night. And the kid secondary—all six who played the back end against Mahomes are 24 or younger—came up huge. One other thing: The Chiefs stunk. Hard to remember an Andy Reid team looking so shaky and poiseless in a big game.

Back to the field, post-game. Back to the strangest season we’ve ever seen.

“What else did you say to Brady?” I asked Arians, when he finally had a chance to take a deep breath in his office post-game.

“That [first] day we talked,” Arians said, “Tom said he knew we had the talent. I just told him, ‘You gotta get them to believe.’ He did. And it came to fruition.”

Arians would have loved to dissect the moment with Brady right there. But when ownership, Arians and Brady moved to the stage to accept the Lombardi, the coach stepped back.

“I wanted my wife to have some time with him,” Arians said. “She’d never met Tom.”

Whaaaaat?

“Just that kind of year,” Arians said. “You know, the virus. It’s been tough to build a close team in times like this. They couldn’t eat together. Gronk still doesn’t know everybody’s name. So when we got on stage, I just let my wife have the moment with Tom. That was precious to me.”

Arians mused: “My wife not meeting Tom till we’re on stage after winning the Super Bowl. That speaks volumes of this whole year.”

There has never been a year like this one, and never a Super Bowl like this one, and not just because of one of the great quarterback pairings of the 55 Super Bowls ever played. Actually, everything surrounding the game was America in this crazy time—good and bad.

The NFL hosted 7,500 vaccinated U.S. health-care workers at the game, to say thanks for their tireless work during the 11 months of the pandemic. I guess it wasn’t too shocking that there was a protest outside a perimeter fence at Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon against, of all things, actually being vaccinated. “VACCINES CAUSE INJURY AND DEATH,” one protester’s sign read. Seriously. But the health-care workers seemed to have a glorious time, enjoying a Miley Cyrus pre-game concert and the game—which pleased the majority of the health-care workers, because the majority was from Florida, like the winners.

The football gods gave the NFL a few more gifts Sunday. The Brady-Mahomes matchup, of course. Brady tying the great Otto Graham for most football championships won by a quarterback (seven). The 269th game of the season, exactly on schedule while COVID-19 still ravages parts of the country.  The NFL was smart to invite so many American heroes, for free, to a game most of them would never have the chance to see. And the pre-game “Chorus of the Captains” poem by 22-year-old Inauguration poet Amanda Gorman was a different, and nice, touch in hard times, honoring a teacher, a nurse and a veteran who have acted selflessly in the pandemic. Gorman’s words included these:

For while we honor them today,
It is they who every day honor us.

Poetry at a football game. The teams stopped, the world stopped, to listen. “What a time to be alive,” young Amanda Gorman tweeted.

What a season to see, too. The Bucs, as it turned out, rode the wings of Brady to an unexpected world championship, running up an 8-0 record since Dec. 1. Those who’ve been around Brady wouldn’t be shocked. By the time the calendar turns to December, his voracious practice habits rub off on his mates, and things that were rough and ugly in Week 3 look pretty impressive by the playoffs. For example: touchdown passes in the final 10 seconds of the first half in both the NFC title game and the Super Bowl, with each being an unexpected dagger in the game.

Brady created a culture of selflessness on both sides of the ball. When star linebacker Devin White complained about not making the Pro Bowl in December, Brady pshawed. “D,” he said. “Come on. There’s a bigger bowl I‘m chasing.” Arians had it lucky. Most teams talk about stars lowering their egos for the common good, but listen to Arians: “Mike Evans is the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever met. He’s told us to use some of his money if we need to contracts to keep the team together! And Gronk—never once all season did he ever say a word about getting the ball more, even though he might get one pass, two passes in games. He just blocks his ass off, and when I’d say to him, ‘You okay?’ he’d say, ‘I’m good, coach. I’m good.’ “

Gronkowski has been eclipsed by KC’s great tight end, Travis Kelce. But on this night, till the game was out of hand, the night belonged to Gronk (two TDs) over Kelce (a big drop, zero TDs). “Playing with Tom,” Gronkowski told me after the game, “you just learn if you want to win championships, you can’t care about your numbers. If you’re good, numbers will come. If you’ve got great players, maybe they’ll get the numbers. Who cares? I’ve had no problems all year how I’ve been used. I love blocking. Blocking’s just as important as catching the ball at my position.”

Brady was obviously the conduit to Gronkowski. “Once Brady signed,” Rosenhaus said, “that was the impetus for everything to happen. I called coach [Bill] Belichick in New England and said it might make sense for Rob to reunite with Tom. They worked out a trade. Rob’s body felt good. Being in Florida was good. He’s the only quarterback Rob ever wanted to play with.”

You could see Sunday night that Gronkowski has the fresh legs he used to have in September in New England. He was quick sprinting across the formation on his first TD catch, and so fast when he caught the ball that no Chief touched him on his eight-yard run to the end zone. On the second, he broke free from coverage by precocious rookie L’Jarius Sneed and then jutted left quickly in the back of the end zone. Easy touchdown.

“People seem mind-blown about Tom at his age,” Gronkowski said. “I’m not. He has lost no zip on his passes from when I first came in the league. People think he eats crazy and they question his methods. Well, I’m doing some of his stuff and all I know is I feel great.”

Brady found Brown with a dart to make it 21-6 by halftime, and by the time Fournette ended it with a 27-yard TD run to the right pylon midway through the third quarter, the Brady indoctrination season was complete. Think of the timeline: When Brady agreed with the Bucs on March 18, he told GM Jason Licht (mind you, this was very early in the pandemic, so no one knew how restrictive life was going to be), We’ve only got so many hours before opening day, and every hour counts for us. Brady actually had figured out the number of hours—maybe 4,300, or close to that—which amazed Licht. But then he pushed to trade for Gronkowski (April 21), supported the signing of Fournette when the Jags cut him (Sept. 6) and was wholly behind the Antonio Brown reclamation project (signed Oct. 27).

Four touchdowns scored in Super Bowl LV: Gronk, Gronk, Brown, Fournette.

Wayward Souls of the NFL, Tampa Bay chapter.

Maybe Brady knew what he was doing in petitioning for his freedom from New England.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

What to know about the 2023 Pro Bowl: Dates, how to watch/live stream info, AFC, NFC coaches, competition schedule, and more

4 Comments

The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl will take place over the course of two days at Allegiant Stadium–home of the Las Vegas Raiders–in Paradise, Nevada. The excitement begins on Thursday, February 2 as NFL fan-favorites compete in a brand-new skills challenge featuring the following events: Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball, Lightning Round, Longest Drive, Precision Passion, and Best Catch.

Sunday, February 5 will feature the following: the Best Catch Finale, Gridiron Gauntlet, Kick Tack Toe, Move the Chains, and three seven-on-seven non-contact Flag football games between the league’s best players.

See below for additional information on how to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl as well as answers to all of your frequently asked questions.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

Who are the coaches for the 2023 Pro Bowl?

AFC Coaches:

  • Peyton Manning – Head Coach
  • Ray Lewis – Defensive Coordinator
  • Diana Flores – Offensive Coordinator

NFC Coaches:

  • Eli Manning – Head Coach
  • Demarcus Ware – Defensive Coordinator
  • Vanita Krouch – Offensive Coordinator

How will the 2023 Pro Bowl be different from previous editions of the event?

Rather than the traditional tackle football game, this year’s Pro Bowl will debut a skills competition and a non-contact flag football game.

How will scoring work?

According to the NFL, points will be calculated in the following way:

  • The winning conference of each skill competition earns three points towards their team’s overall score, with 24 total points available across the eight skills events.
  • The winning conference from each of the first two Flag football games on Sunday will earn six points for their team, for a total of 12 available points.
  • Points from the skills competitions and first two Flag games will be added together and will be the score at the beginning of the third and final Flag game, which will determine the winning conference for The Pro Bowl Games.

How to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl:

  • Where: Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada
  • When: Thursday, February 2 (7:00 PM ET) and Sunday, February 5 (3:00 PM ET)
  • TV Channel: ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD

When is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Where is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 will be contested at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals– in Glendale, Arizona.

What teams are playing in Super Bowl 2023?

The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs marking the first time since 2017 that both top seeds qualified for the Super Bowl.


Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

Super Bowl food 2023: Appetizer, entrée, and dessert ideas for Super Bowl LVII inspired by the Eagles and Chiefs

1 Comment

As the countdown continues toward Super Bowl LVII, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs are getting their game plans set. But while they go over their plays, the rest of America goes over their menus in preparation for the big day. When it comes to the Super Bowl, everything is always the best — the best teams, the best performers and, of course, the best food.

But how can you impress your party in the kitchen while showing support for your favorite team? Let’s take a look at some iconic food from each of the Super Bowl team cities to prepare for Super Bowl LVII.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl LVII: Date, location, how to watch

Philadelphia Super Bowl food

Crabfries

Why have plain old fries when you could have crabfries? That’s exactly what Pete Ciarrocchi, the CEO of the legendary Philadelphia restaurant Chickie and Pete’s, said one day when creating this intriguing concoction.

While the name may be misleading, crabfries do not contain any actual crab, but rather a blend of spices and Old Bay seasoning that allow the dish to take on a subtle seafood flavor. Topped with a creamy, cheesy dipping sauce, the crinkle-cut fries are sure to take your taste buds to the next level.

Cheesesteak sloppy joes

It simply isn’t Philly without a cheesesteak. Keep it casual in your kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday with Katie Lee Biegel’s Philly Cheesesteak sloppy joes, an easy way to rep the Birds.

Can’t get enough of the cheesesteak? Bring some more Philly specials to the table with this cheesesteak dip, the perfect way to amp up your appetizer game and leave party guests feeling like they just took a trip to the City of Brotherly Love.

RELATED: Rob Gronkowski predicts Eagles to win Super Bowl LVII

Water ice

Is the action of the game heating up? Cool down with a classic Philly treat, water ice. First originating in Bensalem, Pennsylvania in 1984, the icy dessert is now sold in over 600 stores nationwide. The original Rita’s Water Ice shop, however, still remains open for business.

You can even show a little extra passion for the Birds by whipping up this green apple variation, sure to leave you refreshed and ready for the Lombardi.

Kansas City Super Bowl food

Cheese slippers

If you’re looking for a classy, yet authentic appetizer to bring to the table, there’s no better fit than the cheese slipper. This ciabatta loaf baked with melty cheeses and topped with seasonal vegetables and herbs has Kansas City natives hooked.

While the bread is typically baked to perfection by local shops, test your own skill level with this gourmet slipper bread recipe that you can complete with the mouth-watering toppings of your choice.

RELATED: How many Super Bowls have the Chiefs been to, won?

BBQ burnt ends

It’s rare to hear the words Kansas City without barbeque following short after. If you’re looking to impress your guests with your Super Bowl food spread, get out to the grill and start showing off.

While many cities in America know how to cook up some excellent BBQ, the combination of the sweet flavors and mouth-watering sauce has made Kansas City a hub for barbeque lovers for decades.

BBQ burnt ends, while a bit time-consuming, are  well worth a little elbow grease. The dish is also one of the few in Kansas City with a distinct origin story. The meal first found its creation at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, a legendary African American restaurant in KC. Bryant originally made the burnt ends from the trimmings of pork belly, but since then, BBQ lovers have made incredible bites out of many styles of meat.

And if you’re feeling extra ambitious, try fixing up some classic Kansas City sides to pair with your entrée to perfection.

RELATED: What to know about Rihanna, the Super Bowl LVII halftime performer

Chiefs chocolate chip cookies

While there is no specific dessert that defines the Heart of America, you can still show your Kansas City pride with these ever-colorful Chiefs chocolate chip cookies.

Make sure to have your food dye handy, because the red and yellow hue of these cookies are sure to show everyone whose side you are on.

Or, if you’re feeling artistic, design an eye-catching Chiefs jersey out of the fan-favorite rice krispie treats. Whether you make Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce or Chris Jones, you’ll have the tastiest Super Bowl jerseys around.

How to watch the Super Bowl 2023 – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs:

Check out ProFootballTalk for more on the 2023 NFL Playoffs as well as game previews, picks, recaps, news, rumors and more.