The Super Bowl won't kick off until Sunday, but the festivities of Super Bowl LII officially began on Monday night.
At Opening Night, the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots participated in the festivities that served as a formal way to introduce themselves to the endless supply of media members. Most of the stars were there, from Tom Brady to Carson Wentz. Cliches were muttered. Underdog roles were embraced. Strangely dressed reporters made appearances. Bill Belichick even smiled.
If you missed the event, we've got you covered. Read on for 13 takeaways from Opening Night.
1. Tom Brady is popular and wearing gloves
Ten minutes before the event began, the crowd in front of Brady's podium was massive.
The crowd in front of Tom Brady’s riser. Opening Day doesn’t start for another 10 minutes. pic.twitter.com/eWJMuM0Xe8— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 30, 2018
When Brady stepped out on stage, he appeared sporting two gloves that hid his hands, which only matters because Brady is dealing with an injury to his right hand. He battled through the injury to lead the Patriots past the Jaguars in the AFC title game and reportedly had 12 stitches removed afterward. In the lead up to that game, Brady made an appearance at practice with a bulky looking glove on his right hand. So, the glove still hasn't disappeared, even though he's indoors.
Brady won't be cold at least. pic.twitter.com/Xgk6L6eGrV— Frank Schwab (@YahooSchwab) January 30, 2018
What was with the gym bag, though?
Tom Brady is here with gloves and a … gym bag? pic.twitter.com/opZuCDnk1i— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 30, 2018
The crowd kept growing.
Tom Brady is in there somewhere ... pic.twitter.com/GWoOZvLjsb— Kevin Steimle (@kevsteimle) January 30, 2018
"This could never get old," Brady said during his interview with NFL Network. He went on to call the Eagles "a tough test." He said they're "good in all three phases." So no, he didn't give any bulletin-board material to the Eagles, as expected.
He also refused a chance to test his thumb in a thumb war.
Tom Brady injury update: not healthy enough to thumb-wrestle Willie McGinest pic.twitter.com/joy0FzgQDz— SI Extra Mustard (@SI_ExtraMustard) January 30, 2018
Brady exposed the fact that he knows shockingly little about pop culture, but he does know that Aaron Rodgers and Danica Patrick are dating.
Tom Brady knows zero about pop culture pic.twitter.com/mAIsLULV6f— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 30, 2018
And no, it doesn't sound like he's retiring after Super Bowl LII unless he suddenly loses all of his magical football powers over the course of the game.
"Well, I never want to be a detriment to the team," Brady said, per NFL.com "So I think for me, as long as I'm playing at a high level and I make the commitment to take care of myself year-round, I'll continue to play.
"So I don't know, things change quickly. Anything can happen, but obviously I want to keep playing. I love playing. I just love playing for the Patriots."
When it came time for him to address the incident involving "Kirk & Callahan" host Alex Reimer, who called Brady's 5-year-old daughter, Vivian, an "annoying little pissant," Brady made it clear that he doesn't want Reimer to be fired.
"I would certainly hope the guy is not fired. I would hate for that to happen," Brady said, per Pro Football Talk. "I just think any player is protective of their kids. I never stayed away from criticism. I understand criticism is part of sports. But I certainly don't think my children or any other children deserve to be in that. … I think we all have careers and we all make mistakes. I would hate to have someone have to change their life over something like that."
It's still not clear if Brady will go back on the air with them. Brady ended his interview on Monday with WEEI after telling them that he was very disappointed in Reimer's comments.
2. Belichick is onto Philadelphia
If there's one thing Bill Belichick hates, it's talking about topics unrelated to football. So, it shouldn't have come as a shock to see him impatient for the festivities to end.
When he appeared on stage dressed in a suit, he looked bored out of his mind.
"Can we just play already" pic.twitter.com/eRbYeoy6Xh— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 30, 2018
Then his press conference began with a bang.
Media member starts to ask Bill Belichick a question about his grandson.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) January 30, 2018
Belichick cuts him off: "I don't got a grandson, buddy."
It continued along in typical Belichick fashion completely unimpeded.
Media member: "Some people call you a curmudgeon. Were you aware that today is National Curmudgeon Day?"— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) January 30, 2018
Bill Belichick: "Nope."
Even Guillermo couldn't crack him.
Bill Belichick doesn't have much to say to @IAMGUILLERMO pic.twitter.com/UOAHgolWyh— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 30, 2018
His knowledge of social media remains unrivaled.
"Is that on Yourface or whatever?"— Allan Bell, Jr. (@AllanBell247) January 30, 2018
- Bill Belichick to a reporter showing him a picture on his phone#SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/hVbKg9Bsxj
An enjoyment update:
Bill Belichick: Still pumped. pic.twitter.com/TWHrmFZ0jk— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) January 30, 2018
Official Belichick Smile Counter: 9! 😁— NFL (@NFL) January 30, 2018
📺: @nflnetwork #SBOpeningNight pic.twitter.com/0fjaNphTsG
Reporters should save this valuable intel for next year's Super Bowl, which the Patriots will inevitably play in because they're the Patriots.
Tom Brady on how to make Belichick smile: "Man, I have no idea. … Navy. Lacrosse. Lawrence Taylor. Bon Jovi. Those four."— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) January 30, 2018
3. No Gronk or Malcolm Butler
As expected, Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't show for Opening Night because he's still in the concussion protocol. Obviously, Gronk's health is the most important thing here, but let's just state the obvious: He and his penchant for making rather entertaining comments were missed dearly on Monday night.
Kraft on Gronk: “He has more smiles per minute per capita than anyone I know. He’s great.”— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 30, 2018
He wasn't the only missing Patriots star. Cornerback Malcolm Butler was also absent with an illness.
The good news is that both players are expected to be OK for the game on Sunday, according to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe.
Gronk went full tilt the past two days in practice. Barring a setback, clearing the concussion protocol is far more about when than if.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) January 29, 2018
Malcolm Butler is expected to be fine for the Super Bowl, per sources. He was treated last night at the hospital for flu-like symptoms.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) January 29, 2018
4. Danny Amendola discovers the key to winning the Super Bowl
Patriots receiver Danny Amendola has it all figured out.
Danny Amendola: "We're going to have to score more points than them."— Sean Wagner-McGough (@seanjwagner) January 30, 2018
No, I didn't make that up.
what I like most about Media Day is the insight pic.twitter.com/3okpxAYwxd— Mike Tunison (@xmasape) January 30, 2018
As I said, enlightening.
Yo Soy Fiesta: Part 2 pic.twitter.com/StxLm6L4te— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 30, 2018
5. Patrick Chung hasn't read Tom Brady's cookbook
Brady sells an expensive cookbook filled with recipes that only use super
healthy weird ingredients. His teammate, safety Patrick Chung, clearly hasn't flipped through the book.
Patrick Chung gives classic reaction when asked about fake or real recipes from Tom Brady’s cookbook 😂 pic.twitter.com/0aIiRrmoVs— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 30, 2018
6. James Harrison takes shot at Steelers
James Harrison played for the Steelers for most of his career and is Pittsburgh's all-time leading sacker, and then he joined the Patriots just in time for their Super Bowl run. On Monday, Harrison took a mild jab at the Steelers -- specifically their travel arrangements.
"They got real food on that plane too," Harrison said of the Patriots' private plane.
"We had some aluminum foil wrap stuff," Harrison said of the Steelers' airplane.
7. Eagles greeted appropriately by Vikings fans
To get to the Super Bowl, the Eagles throttled the Vikings. Then, they hopped on a plane to Minnesota to face the Patriots in the Vikings' home stadium. Predictably, Vikings fans gave the Eagles a warm reception at Opening night.
They made Tom Brady and Nick Foles go on stage together and everyone is booing over Nick Foles and it's awkward— Jessica Smetana (@jessica_smetana) January 30, 2018
Vikings fans here booed the Eagles captains when they took stage at Opening Night.— Joe Person (@josephperson) January 30, 2018
Nick Foles and the #Eagles getting booed every time they speak— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) January 30, 2018
#Eagles are being booed as they come out. They are laughing it off and seem to be embracing it— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) January 30, 2018
Vikings fans are doing the SKOL chant #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) January 30, 2018
"As expected, NFL fans love their teams," Ertz said, per NFL.com. "Obviously Minnesota isn't over last week. But hopefully they'll kind of change heart and root for us next week."
8. Doug Pederson goes casual
Patriots coach Bill Belichick wore a suit. Eagles coach Doug Pederson wore jeans.
Doug Pederson going #dadjeans is easily the biggest story of media night so far. pic.twitter.com/wNTzyxsFTV— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) January 30, 2018
So much respect, honestly, from a work-from-home blogger who doesn't own a suit.
9. Not where Carson Wentz expected to be
Not too long ago, Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate for the Eagles. Now, due to a torn ACL, he's taking a backseat to Nick Foles at Opening Night.
Nick Foles meets Tom Brady— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 30, 2018
Shakin hands in front of Lombardi Trophy#FlyEaglesFly#SuperBowlpic.twitter.com/Y8LyJDNnEr
Carson Wentz taking a seat: pic.twitter.com/eI4jrDozI2— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) January 30, 2018
Wentz still fielded questions and expressed his support for Foles. He said his faith is getting him through the week.
Carson Wentz is here at Opening Night. Says it is "unreal." He said his faith is getting him through the disappointment of not playing. https://t.co/wakkQBSIRr pic.twitter.com/cQYio3Ekzb— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) January 30, 2018
Foles, on his part, remained complimentary of Wentz, saying he's the MVP of the league.
"You prepare during the week. When you're not the starter getting the reps, you're watching. He [Carson Wentz] is amazing, I think he's the MVP of the league."— 247Sports (@247Sports) January 30, 2018
- Eagles QB Nick Foles#FlyEaglesFly | #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/asjb7UGbN9
"No, I did not imagine I would be the starter in the Super Bowl when the season started," Foles said, per NFL.com. "When you're playing behind Carson Wentz, you're playing behind Carson Wentz. He's one of the best in the NFL. He's got an extremely bright future. I can't wait to see what he does in his future. ... He's going to have a great career and his time will come."
10. Julie Ertz, Zach Ertz are still the best sports power couple
Julie Ertz, one of the best soccer players in the world, plays for the U.S. Women's National Team. Zach Ertz, one of the best tight ends in the world, plays for the Philadelphia Eagles. Naturally, that makes them one of the world's top power couples.
Julie skipped the Eagles' win over the Vikings in the NFC title game to play in a game with the USWNT, scoring a goal in the process, but she attended Opening Night. There, they stole the spotlight.
Julie Ertz is coming with the tough questions for Zach Ertz— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 30, 2018
Julie: What's your favorite food that I make?
Zach: Tacos pic.twitter.com/v5bwOZtxPv
Julie Ertz says she wanted to run to her phone as soon as she saw the Eagles made the Super Bowl during her viral video moment. pic.twitter.com/TKOzvMycal— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 30, 2018
11. Eagles cheerleaders try to save the Eagles' portion
Surprisingly, the Eagles' portion of the night didn't live up to the excitement of the tight-lipped Patriots' session. This might've been the highlight, which isn't saying much:
“Doug Pederson, if you were a tree, which one would you be?”— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 30, 2018
“A Douglas fir?”
So, the Eagles cheerleaders tried to salvage it by teaching the media members how to dance.
The Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders are showing some reporters how to do some of their dances. pic.twitter.com/dQHDIFtZUt— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 30, 2018
12. Eagles keep embracing underdog status
The Eagles have been underdogs in every playoff game so far. As of Monday night, the Eagles are 4.5-point underdogs.
They're embracing their underdog status.
Lane Johnson: "We are the underdogs. No one thinks we're supposed to be here. They think it's a fluke." pic.twitter.com/kXTcwyGqTW— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 30, 2018
"We've been the underdogs," Pederson said, via NFL.com. "I think that's the mentality of our football team. I think that's the mentality of our city, and I'm okay with that, I'm fine that. I've been an underdog my whole career, my whole life. Everything I've done, I either haven't been good enough or something negative has been written or said, and I just blow it off. I have confidence in these guys and this team."
"We've had a chip on our shoulder the entire year," Ertz said, via NFL.com. "No one picked us at the beginning of the year. No one picked us after Carson got hurt. No one picked us first round, second round, the NFC Championship. We're just excited to be here, the chip on our shoulder will never leave. I think being in the NFL you have to have one."
So, to no one's surprise, a dog mask made an appearance.
BRANDON GRAHAM IS ANSWERING QUESTIONS IN A DOG MASK pic.twitter.com/Qg4DZ2kkLS— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) January 30, 2018
13. Weird sightings
Allow me to present a shark reporter:
WE HAVE A SHARK REPORTER AT #SBOpeningNight!! pic.twitter.com/kIkl1qKRiX— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 30, 2018
Reporters interviewing other reporters in costume is always the highlight of Super Bowl Opening Night. pic.twitter.com/kcSJVj5YKp— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 30, 2018
And a dog reporter:
Things are getting interesting over in the media scrum surrounding Patriots owner Robert Kraft https://t.co/iA1yDxgQQJpic.twitter.com/YcPGBn5s3x— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) January 30, 2018
This is happening. #SBOpeningNightpic.twitter.com/yw4xSs9mUd— Cody Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin) January 30, 2018
Who let the dogs out at Super Bowl Opening Night? pic.twitter.com/4GD7c2FoBQ— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 30, 2018
At one point, a Rubik's cube was solved.
Here’s the Patriots’ Joe Thuney solving a Rubik’s Cube in like a minute pic.twitter.com/OqCScRmWN8— RandBall (@RandBall) January 30, 2018
Below, you'll find our live-blog from the night.