Super Bowl Saturday is always an odd day. There's no media access, Radio Row is basically shut down and most who have been working all week use it as a day to decompress before the big game.
Lots of my folks headed over to NASA for a day of sightseeing. My invite must have been lost but no worries, there was work to do: The Patriots fan rally at NFL Live outside the Experience.
Patriots hosted a Super Bowl Fan Rally on Sat., Feb. 4 at Super Bowl LIVE presented by Verizon in downtown Houston.
NFL Live is an outdoor stage for the general public with entertainment running pretty much all day and into the night. It's part of an expansive area adjacent to the convention center with food, displays, giveaways and music. It's a great atmosphere and when you're in it you can't help but get excited. Everywhere you look is Super Bowl LI. Buildings are emblazoned with gigantic murals, people in NFL gear are eating in restaurant patios, NFL Network is broadcasting from their stage and celebrity watching is made easy.
The rally started at noon and by then thousands of Patriots fans were ready to get loud. Bryan Morry, executive director of the Hall at Patriot Place, worked as MC along with Kevin Faulk. The Patriots Cheerleaders performed. Scotty McCreery of American Idol fame sang four songs. McCreery is a huge Patriots fan even though he's from North Carolina. His dad is a Maine native and brought him up right. Hey Scotty, let me know where I can get a pair of those Patriots cowboy boots!
The main event was Robert and Jonathan Kraft who brought along a friend, Rob Gronkowski. Gronk fired up the fans like only Gronk can. He was followed by Patriots alumni who fired Patriots gear into the crowd.
One of the alums was Terry Glenn. I was surprised to see him as he didn't exactly leave the Patriots on the best of terms. But he lives in Dallas and reached out to see how he could help out this week. He wasn't looking for anything for himself. I think he's had some time to do some soul searching over the years and realized that maybe it's OK to open up a little. To me, that was always Glenn's issue. He didn't grow up with a stable family situation, to put it mildly, and I'm sure he never felt like he belonged or knew who truly was looking out for him. So he looked out for himself and didn't let too many people get close. I know the Krafts tried to embrace him but when they felt like they might have a breakthrough, he would pull away. Now, he's started a foundation, appropriately, for foster kids and has a son of his own. I can sincerely say it was great seeing him and I wish him the best. I hope he stays close to the team from this point on.
The rally lasted an hour and then it was back to the team hotel. One of my missions for the day was to get my crew their game day credentials. These are entirely different than the ones we used to get around during the week. If we were the police, these are our gun and badge. Game day credentials are the key to the kingdom. Afternoon rolled into evening and there was no word of their whereabouts. Panicked texts and emails started to fly because it wasn't just my group, everyone was looking.
I finally got the call around 10 PM. This is my eighth Super Bowl and I've never experienced a credential crisis like the one I saw from that point. People who needed them didn't have them or were given incorrect access. People who didn't need them, got them. I'm not pointing fingers because I have no idea where the breakdown occurred but it took some people in very high places to get involved before it was ultimately straightened out hours before the game on Sunday.
And then it was game day.
I had a car and more importantly, a parking pass, so I offered to drive some people to the game. One of them was our director of media relations who is a maniac about getting places early. We left the hotel at 7 AM for a 5:30 PM game. Getting there that early wasn't the worst thing in the world. I had my pick of parking spots and completely avoided the crush of media going through security that would follow.
NRG is a great stadium and with all the signage and fan zone areas set up, it looked great. First stop was the field. Even though not much was going on that early in the morning, it was good to just stand there and take it all in. In nine hours or so, this will be the center of attention for hundreds of millions people worldwide.
Now I sit in the press box, writing the final Kirsch Kronicles for Super Bowl LI. This run has been and is completely ridiculous in a good way. No team in the NFL is supposed to do what the Patriots are doing. Faces have come and gone but there have remained three constants throughout: Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They are the lifeblood of this success, the beating heart of a dynasty. We are so lucky to have them.
Have a great game everyone and if you can, join me on Kirsch Words during the game!