ESPN's Adam Schefter was standing at the IT help desk in Bristol looking panicked back in 2016. He ran away to take a call, so I asked the man who was helping him if Adam was doing OK. He said: “Yeah, he’s fine, he just can’t find his daily journal on his computer. He thinks they were deleted. They weren’t.” Turns out writing is a daily habit for the senior NFL Insider and his logs of words are precious to him. He writes about who he talked to, his interactions, who he met, who he confided in, where he spent the day, whatever happened that day, his family, his life, he keeps a log of it in his daily diary. I decided during my eight days in Los Angeles, I would take a page out of Adam’s playbook and write down in my phone some of the moments of my days. Some football stuff, some personal nuggets.
In no specific order, here are some of my observations from Super Bowl 56:
*The Rams stayed in Manhattan Beach the night before the Super Bowl, at the same hotel they stayed in all season long. When God created heaven, He accidently let some of it slip onto planet earth. That’s Manhattan Beach. Beautiful sunsets, perfect beaches, and the most laid back, healthy atmosphere in the U.S.
*While waiting to interview Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford right after the trophy ceremony, his four little daughters were hanging on him with so much force, he couldn't stand up to talk. He looked to his wife to watch them, smiled at me and smirked: "A dad first. Always a dad."
*On the sidelines before the game I spoke to Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris about his gut feeling on the game. The man didn’t even look away. Looked right into my eyes and said “we are winning this game.” The first person I saw on the field after the win was Morris. I said to him “you called it” He smiled and said “I knew the entire time this was ours.”
*L.A. traffic stinks. I was late to everything. On Friday night, my wonderful friends planned a birthday dinner for me at 5:30 p.m. I had to drive from Thousand Oaks, where the Rams practice, to Santa Monica. I arrived at 7:30 p.m. I sat in traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway for 2 hours and 45 minutes. I understand the view is incredible and it does help with the frustration, but I hate being late. My friends sat at the table with cocktails waiting for me. You can imagine what shape they were in after waiting that long. Let’s just say it was an early night.
*I met the great Hall of Famer Marcus Allen at a Chalk Talk event. He is one of the best story tellers, especially while reflecting on his own career. We talked about his Super Bowl MVP season, his time as the greatest running back at USC, and life as an elite player. He is now on my list of people I would like to have dinner with.
*I lost my voice on Day 2. Guess what cures laryngitis? Not talking. Guess what I can’t do? Not talk. It’s Day 11 and I still don’t have a voice.
*Packers running back Aaron Jones was on the red carpet for the NFL Honors award show. He was kind enough to stop and chat with me. I asked him if he had made a plea to QB Aaron Rodgers to stay. He misunderstood me and looked into my camera and said, “Please Aaron, please stay.” It was so genuine and sweet. Rodgers won MVP that night and it really made you think about what a year it has been for the 38-year-old. He nearly forced a trade during training camp. When he showed up this summer, he hinted it was his last year in Green Bay. He had that whole vaccine situation, misunderstanding, lie, debacle. The Packers went 13-4 but lost in the divisional round. Then news broke he and his fiancée broke up. I had many conversations with people about what they think will happen. Players, coaches, agents, general managers. It was pointed out many times that Rodgers was more than kind speaking of the Packers in his speech, which was very different than how the spoke of them in the past.
Schefter reported the Packers are doing anything they can to keep him.
Rodgers has said he won’t take long to decide what he wants to do next. Most think he is staying. I’ll write more about this next week.
*Speaking of quarterbacks, Russell Wilson and his stunning wife were on the red carpet as well. He didn’t stop to chat but Seattle receiver Tyler Lockett did. Lockett really wants things to be better in Seattle. I’ll dive into this soon, too.
*Rams GM Les Snead couldn’t handle the nervous energy on Sunday morning. He went for a long walk and run to kill time. I was able to talk to him and the one thing that stood out was how confident he was in this team. I felt that all week about the Rams. They just seemed ready.
*Rams communications superstar Joanna Hunter blew me away with her effort, kindness, and passion for the team she works for. I had never met her, but ever meet someone and think, “I really wish I met you earlier in life?”
*I spoke with Cowboys QB Dak Prescott for a while about the upcoming season. He told me straight up, the emotional exhaustion of his big return wore on him. He is looking forward to a normal camp. (I’ll have more on the Cowboys soon.)
*Postgame shows are always crazy at the Super Bowl. My job is to go grab as many interviews as possible so Chris “Boomer” Berman can toss to them in between the highlights and analysis. As soon as the trophy ceremony was wrapped up, I chased after the Rams’ Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Matthew Stafford, Robert Woods, Odell Beckham Jr., and Sean McVay. They all stopped and chatted. I couldn’t believe it. As I continued to find more players, I looked up and saw ALL those guys sitting with Berman on the set! Who needs me when you have Berman! It was one of the greatest postgame Super Bowl shows on ESPN. My boss Seth Markman deserves SO MUCH credit. He killed it this year getting us set up in the best places, with the most access.
*OBJ was hysterically crying right after the game. You could feel the relief. The happiness. The shock. All of it.
*Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell told me he is NOT retiring. He said he has at least three years left
*The most real moment I had all week was walking in West Hollywood at 10 a.m. and running into Dan “@BarstoolBigCat” Katz with two donuts in his mouth and @PFTCommenter Eric Sollenberger just standing there.
They didn’t say much … except, “Want a donut?”
Its bizarre and funny for many reasons, mainly because they are my friends, but really didn’t have much to share. It was nice to see familiar faces.
*Leaving a 6-month-old back home for eight days is too long. It was the hardest week of my life knowing my son was back in New Jersey without me. They say you can’t be in two places at once, so make the best of the place you need to be. I tried.
*I saw Kings of Leon in concert, and they sound exactly the same in person. It was awesome.
*Titans head coach Mike Vrabel won coach of the year honors. I spoke with him about the upcoming season, and all he gave me was, “Our team is going to look a bit different this upcoming season.”
*Rams receiver Robert Woods is a special person. The number of players who wanted him to share in the celebration despite his absence since November was outstanding. I spoke with him for a bit, and he has this raw, grateful, kind personality that suggests he is nothing but a team player. I get why the Rams love him.
*I asked 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel if any player playing in the Super Bowl is like him. “No. Nobody is like me,” he said. “That’s it.” I loved his answer
*Raiders’ Darren Waller told me he is so excited to work with his new coach Josh McDaniels. He said the plan for the tight ends is what you saw in New England. Waller said “Gronk, Hernandez, it is incredible what McDaniels draws up”
*There is no better feeling in the world than sleeping in your own bed. I may not leave ever again. … Just kidding. Off to Indy in two weeks for the NFL combine!