Super Bowl week is upon us — and Pats Pulpit will be part of the action for the third straight year. This means, of course, that you will be given a chance to get closer to Atlanta and the NFL championship game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. Just follow along here or on Twitter with the hashtag #PostcardsFromAtlanta.
Monday, February 4
After a solid two hours of sleep, I’m back at the grind: covering the press conferences by Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman and head coach Bill Belichick. They did not stand out in any way, but it was quite interesting to see the two plus a bunch of sleep deprived reporters in the same room. Anywhere, here’s my quick recap and what is the final entry of my Postcards in Atlanta series:
Thank you so much for following along on this week-long journey — and for being with us here at Pats Pulpit!
Sunday, February 3
It’s been quite the journey: in October, I took the job as managing editor at Pats Pulpit — four months later I’m nearly 5,000 miles from home to cover the Super Bowl:
Personal sentimentalities aside, Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium is quite the arena. A state-of-the-art stadium that plays all the tricks. With that in mind, here’s the latest Postcard from Atlanta:
Well, well, well... that was quite the interesting game. The Patriots — basically playing in front of a home crows — were able to beat the Rams with a final score of 13-3 to bring their sixth Lombardi Trophy back to New England. It was a record-breaking night, and quite the experience from start...
For me personally, it was another day at the office to a certain degree — I still did what I do during other games — but of course it is not the same as watching a game on your laptop: the feeling inside the arena was electric all game long, with the Patriots fans turning Mercedes-Benz Stadium into Gillette South. Here’s my short postgame recap:
Saturday, February 2
It’s the calm before the storm today here in Atlanta. Radio raw is pretty much deserted and the media workroom is down to only a handful of writers and TV crews. All in all, it’s a comparatively quiet day when compared to the last few:
With not a lot going on on the journalistic front, I decided to hit the so-called NFL Experience. It’s basically a theme park revolving around the NFL — and it is once again mostly populated by Patriots fans. Based on jerseys and the like New England’s followers might outnumber the Rams’ 20:1, and that is not an exaggeration. It really is this lopsided.
Other than that, the NFL Experience is exactly what you would expect. It’s loud, there’s plenty of people, and you can try everything from throwing a football to kicking it to learn how they are made (and inflated to 13.0 PSI). NFL Network also has a studio set down there, so you can take a look behind the scenes of their shows. It’s certainly a nice way to spend the day from a general fan perspective.
Friday, February 1
There was no Patriots media availability today, which allowed me some time to do a bit more writing for this very website you are currently visiting. To do that, I went to the Super Bowl media center... and a lot was going on there today despite neither the Patriots nor the Rams speaking to reporters today. To quickly recap that, I present the latest Postcard from Atlanta:
As I mentioned in the video, plenty of fans were in the building visiting radio row (luckily, the writer’s room is in a separate room and not publicly accessible) as were a lot of players including ex-Patriots linebacker James Harrison:
Harrison, of course, spent only a few weeks in New England last year but he is still a popular guy with Patriots fans. Speaking of which, there were plenty to be seen yet again and if I had to rank jerseys based on quantity I would say it looks as follows:
Yep, there are not that many Rams fans around (they’d probably come in fourth place) at least a) not visibly, and b) from my purely subjective point of view.
Thursday, January 31
The Patriots had their final media availability session at the team hotel today, and it was a pretty light-hearted affair. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were at the podium, and while Belichick’s session was nothing out of the ordinary, Brady’s was interrupted by a guy playing Queen’s We Are the Champions on an ukulele at one point:
While this was the peak of craziness today, it was not the only lighter moment. We also had Rob Gronkowski at his usual goofy self, saw twin brothers Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty switch jerseys, and had Deatrich Wise Jr. crash Julian Edelman’s podium session to show him a picture of a cake and ask his opinion on it:
In all fairness, it was a pretty cake:
Other than that, it was your typical media availability session. I did talk to a bunch of players, including punter Ryan Allen about his relationship with the Rams’ Johnny Hekker. He told some interesting stories, so make sure to come back tomorrow for the story on that.
Other than that, here’s my recap of the session from the team’s hotel — and also a report on how Sunday’s game might have a pro-Patriots crowd:
Wednesday, January 30
Day three in Atlanta is upon us, and it’s once again a busy one as I outlined in the latest Postcard video:
The Roger Goodell press conference I mentioned was as enlightening as expected: he gave a bunch of no-answers or rather generic ones, was tossed a couple of softball questions, and mostly had to speak about officiating. Goodell was asked two Patriots-related questions, though:
Goodell on Josh Gordon: NFL will evaluate his situation, will make decision in due time.— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) January 30, 2019
Goodell on the Patriots’ success in the Kraft era: “He brought that leadership... he’s built a world-class organization.”— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) January 30, 2019
Praised Kraft for his impact on the league as a whole.
The more interesting part started later: the Patriots’ media availability session which saw Bill Belichick and Devin McCourty hold press conferences. While Belichick went on a seven-minute talk about his appreciation for football history, McCourty was — of course — asked about him potentially calling it a career after the Super Bowl:
Q: Has Devin McCourty thought about retirement?— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) January 30, 2019
Afterwards, we were able to talk to the rest of the players — including special teams ace Brandon King on the importance of special teams, Stephen Anderson on joining the Patriots, and Adam Butler on how his past as an offensive lineman helps him playing on the defensive side:
On a more light-hearted note, I also spoke with several players about who they would choose if they could pick any artist to perform the Super Bowl halftime show. Deatrich Wise Jr. was one of them:
Tuesday, January 29
It’s day two here in Atlanta, and I spent it at only two non-hotel locations: at the Super Bowl media center from where I also write these lines, and at the Patriots’ team hotel in downtown Atlanta — a convenient 15-minute walk from each other. And in case you can’t find it, just look for a 100-foot banner hanging from the building:
The session was supposed to be kicked off with a Bill Belichick press conference followed by simultaneous interview opportunities with 10 players, including Tom Brady. However, the NFL’s best head coach ran a bit late which meant that the two ultimately overlapped. That’s why I spent Belichick’s press conference in the ball room next door, where the players were located.
To get a quick impression of what happened, please check out this short video:
The rest of the day will be spent, you guessed it, writing before the media party in the evening.
Monday, January 28
Theoretically speaking, I should say that my day already started on Sunday because my trip to Atlanta actually began at 9:30 p.m. ET. Two seemingly endless flights later I arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, went straight to the hotel and immediately to the Georgia International Convention Center for the NFL’s opening night aka. media day. And it was a frenzy from Tom Brady drawing a massive crowd...
...to the McCourty twins answering questions together:
You had virtually all of NFL media in attendance, as well as plenty of reporters from all over the world — from Mexico to Germany to China and beyond. There were people in costumes, cupcakes, and a quiz about which McCourty brother is which. J.B. Smoove was in attendance as was Jimmy Kimmel sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez. It was, as expected, a circus but one that was attended by more Patriots than Rams fans.
Speaking of which: from all that I have seen so far in Atlanta, New England’s fan base clearly outnumbers the Rams’ at the start of the week.
Anyway, here’s my short résumé of day one in Atlanta:
On to day two.