While the San Francisco 49ers complain more about holding calls and practice field conditions, the Kansas City Chiefs are in Las Vegas to do a job without excuses, concerns, or distractions. They are chasing history, and nothing will stand in their path.
Monday marks the official start of the Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers practiced earlier today and will head to the Las Vegas Strip for the Super Bowl opening night extravaganza. The media demands required from both teams are insane; Monday marks the first salvo of hell week for the players and coaches. As a participant in the number one sporting event of the year, the NFL goes out of its way to create as much access as possible to its global audience.
The NFL is dealing with a new fan graphic this year, the Swifties. Thanks to the national headlines surrounding Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift, the NFL has a new bevy of young fans following the sport. It’s not an insignificant number because it’s very likely with Swift attending Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, this will become the most-watched game in NFL history. They enter the week wide open with eyes wide open and the cash to buy Chiefs merchandise.
They have yet to learn that Las Vegas is the perfect backdrop for the Super Bowl, and their first will be one of many in the future. No other city in the country knows how to throw a party better than Las Vegas. For Chiefs and 49ers fans, they’ll drink too much, gamble too much, and won’t get enough sleep to advance to the next day, but that’s what you do in Las Vegas! This week is for them, not the players.
Though the 49ers will practice at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, they are prone to more distractions and opportunities to enjoy the nightlife. The Chiefs will be at the Raiders practice facility in nearby Henderson, Nevada, some 15 miles away.
Opening night is a time to enjoy the atmosphere of Las Vegas and allow the players from both teams to banter with each other and take in the moment. The 49ers don’t have many players with Super Bowl experience, while the Chiefs do and are well-versed in the right and wrong things to do during the week.
Yet, until Sunday’s game, the week is for fans of all ages to enjoy the festivities leading up to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs Kingdom is vast and boisterous about their football team. After all, they are in unprecedented times in the Patrick Mahomes era. For us all dogs, we had one Super Bowl win (IV) under our view; now, the older fans and the new ones have enjoyed two (LIV & LVII), and if the ball bounced the Chief’s way Sunday, they will have three Lombardi Trophies in five seasons.
That frenzy of hope, wonder, and the likelihood that the Chiefs will be the victor against the 49ers drives the fan base that doesn’t know any different – they know their team wins with Mahomes. Sure, the Chiefs have had some heartbreak losses in the Mahomes era, but it’s only happened three times, and two were against Tom Brady.
However, the 49ers are talented and driven and want to avenge their Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs. To do that, young Brock Purdy must be the best quarterback on the field. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan must be better than his counterpart, Andy Reid. Lastly, the 49er’s defense, which has struggled toward the end of the season must play better than the Chiefs top-rated defense.
If all three things align, the Chiefs may not win this game. Yet, as the underdog, Kansas City is playing with Vegas house money, and that’s why the fan base is so relaxed heading into this Super Bowl appearance.
The Chiefs were not expected to be in this game Sunday, and we saw plenty of reasons why that was the case, but the Mahomes factor trumps any reasonable logic. The 49ers were the preseason pick by many NFL experts to win the Super Bowl. They’ve had their ups and downs this season, but they’ve been impressive in the playoffs, staging two comeback wins.
They’ll run onto the field Sunday as two-point favorites and have all the pressure on their shoulders. The Chiefs have nothing to prove. They are the best team in the NFL; they know it, the fans know it, and I suspect many in the 49ers fan base do as well.
So, whatever happens between now and Sunday is simply the fodder that drives the narrative; there is no better sports league in the world and no better game than the Super Bowl.
It’s not the players that make it that way; it’s the enormous fan base that compiles the old, the new, and now the Swifties!