Green Bay Packers' Ka'dar Hollman (29) and Adrian Amos try to stop Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Rob Gronkowski during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

Storylines galore as Brady, Mahomes command Super Bowl stage

Someone will make history Sunday in a Super Bowl so filled with storylines it would fill a season of TV programming.

Tom Brady, already the true Game of Thrones king, going for a seventh ring. Patrick Mahomes, the apparent heir to the quarterbacking summit, seeking a second in a row with Kansas City — something no team has done since Brady led New England to the double in the 2003 and ’04 seasons.

Brady, 43 is in his 10th NFL title game, but with a new outfit, the Buccaneers — who happen to call Tampa home. Yes, Tampa, Florida, where the Super Bowl is being played this year. Pirates of the Caribbean make port: No host team has ever played in the big one in its home stadium.

“There’s a lot that comes along with the Super Bowl,” says Rob Gronkowski, the three-time champion tight end who came out of retirement to reunite with Brady. “There’s a lot that comes along with this week. I’ve been there before. I’ve experienced it all before. But just having it at home, cutting out the travel, knowing where you can stay, where your friends can stay, where you family can stay, it just makes it a lot easier to have it at your home stadium, big time.”

Add in two sixty-something head coaches, K ansas City’s Andy Reid and Tampa Bay’s Bruce Arians, both offensive masterminds as comfortable with today’s high-scoring, creative NFL attacks as all those kid coaches who are all the rage.

“There’s nobody that would ever say a bad thing about B.A., he’s just so endearing to everybody and I think everyone wants to win for him,” Brady says of Arians, the kind of praise the quarterback rarely used about his previous head coach.

“He’s got almost like a father figure kind of role in the building and it’s because everyone loves him so much,” Chiefs unanimous All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce says of Reid. “He’s got an unbelievable way of getting the best out of everybody that is relating to all different aspects and all different forms of life.”

Don’t forget the defences, which could easily be ignored with all the dynamism on both offences. Tampa has probably the best set of linebackers in the NFL with Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David and Devin White, studs up front in Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul, and an ever-improving secondary.

KC has All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, linemen Frank Clark and Chris Jones — and a co-ordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, who doesn’t back off.

“I’ve played for a lot of coaches in high school and college,” Clark notes, “and I’m not saying they were bad, but I’m not saying their intentions were to bring out the best in players. I can say that for sure with coach Spags. His intentions are not negative or anything like that. His intentions are solely to have the best defence on that field.”

All of this at the end of a season played during a pandemic, yet not delayed, with no games cancelled, and each of the Super Bowl participants experiencing relatively few COVID-19 setbacks.

“I think with the pandemic and the sacrifices they have all made for each other, they go to work and go home,” Arians says. “They don’t get to sit and eat together, don’t get to have conversations, it is amazing to me how close they are. It is the commitment they made to each other to beat the virus.”

The NFL and Florida health officials have approved about 22,000 fans and all will be required to wear masks. Raymond James Stadium normally has a capacity of 75,000 fans.

Playing before real people rather than just cardboard cutouts — oh, there will be plenty of those, too, with proceeds donated to local charities — has been rare in the NFL all season. But both the Chiefs and Buccaneers were among the few teams to have fans on hand for some games.

Their paths to the championship game have been divergent, though. The Bucs (14-5) finished second in the NFC South to the Saints, sending them on the wild-card route. That meant trips to Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay. And now, staying home.

The Chiefs (16-2) had the top seed and lone bye in the AFC, then outlasted Cleveland with Mahomes sidelined for nearly half the game before routing Buffalo.

Of course, with the week off between the conference title matches and the Super Bowl, each side should be well rested. The only perceivable edge might be the Chiefs needing a plane ride to the game site while the Bucs could drive over to RJS.

By Sunday, they will be as eager as possible to get back on the field and write the final chapter to an unfathomably atypical season.

“You don’t get these opportunities every year in the NFL to be in the Super Bowl and to be in these games,” Mahomes says, thought it sure seems as if Brady has a Super Bowl habit, and Mahomes is developing one. “So you don’t want to look back and have regrets on how you played or how you went about the week before preparing to go out there to play your best football.

“When the end of your career is done, then you can kind of look and see where those moments were in your career where you could’ve had something or that you executed and you did go out there and achieve your dreams.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

March will be dramatically warmer through the prairies

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend Sunday Service, in Abbotsford, B.C., Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. A legal advocacy group challenging British Columbia’s COVID-19 restrictions on worship services and public protests is scheduled to be in court today arguing for the church and others that COVID-19 restrictions violate their charter rights. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Churches in court to challenge British Columbia’s COVID-19 health orders

Calgary-based organization says it represents over a dozen individuals and faith communities in the province

A memorial for those killed and injured in a deadly crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus is visible at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Sask., on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘More pain:’ Some Broncos families angry over request in court to delay lawsuit

Eleven lawsuits were filed after the crash on April 6, 2018

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read