Normally, a Super Bowl week would hype up the entire game from all sorts of angles during the week starting with Media Night, We hear boring guests that offer nothing and promote their products on Radio Row. It becomes ridiculous and absurd once we hit the weekend where we want the game to start after so much overanalyzing.
Sunday changed everything when news came out that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash along with John Altobelli, Keir Altobelli (wife), Alyssa Altobelli (daughter), Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobyan (pilot). Everyone focused on that unfortunate tragedy instead of Super Bowl LIV Media Night on Monday night, and for good reason.
No one wanted that as a respite for Super Bowl week. To say Super Bowl LIV would be a diversion to these last few days does not serve anyone well. But as we head to the big game on Sunday, the show must go on, and it does not stop for anyone.
Bryant would have wanted the Super Bowl to go on because the competitiveness in him would want it to happen. It would be a disservice for everyone and Bryant to cancel the show because of his death. It would be a classic overreaction.
Still, this Super Bowl features him in a depressing yet reflective light.
On Media Night Monday night, Bryant came to mind for every player and coach. The media knew it was a good chance to get them to bust a vein and fill their notebooks on him. The players delivered.
Players such as Richard Sherman and Travis Kelce mentioned about their friendship with him. Players such as Patrick Mahomes, Tyrann Mathieu and George Kittle spoke about his mindset and his competitiveness that made him such a great player and how they incorporated his attributes to their respective game of the sport they play in. 49ers linebacker Frank Clark responded to a question about the long-time Laker by saying what a role model he was to him.
On Media Night, everything started with a moment of silence to the late, legendary Laker.
Bryant commanded respect from the respective pro sports leagues and the world for a reason. He played the game the way it should be: With a passion and a purpose. He loved playing basketball, and it showed when he spoke to the media and when he was on the court. He mentored young players in the NBA because he wanted the game to be in a better place when he left. He passed the torch to them in a sense they had a responsibility to make the game great and give their best when they were on the court.
It’s a compliment to him that pro athletes from their respective sport would pay homage to Bryant and think of him as a person and as a basketball player. It’s the best compliment anyone can receive quite frankly, especially after a person is dead by being remembered for the good things he or she meant to others. He earned all of this, and then some.
Figure the NFL honors Bryant on Sunday with another moment of silence at Hard Rock Stadium, sight of Super Bowl LIV. After all, this comes one week after he unfortunately passed away.
Oh, you can bet Fox announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will speak about the late Laker on the telecast. He is part of the storyline since he was a brand and the news is still raw for so many people.
It’s hard to make the Super Bowl secondary, but Bryant made it happen. Something he had no control over. Fate turned out to be that way. Obviously, no one wanted it happened, but it did.
All we can do is use this marquee event of the sports year to celebrate him and thank him for his service.
The Super Bowl should be a celebration of Bryant on Sunday. He earned this much. Shame on the NFL if this does not happen, especially when athletes that grew up watching Bryant. This would be for the fans and organizers who could use something to celebrate. It would be surprising if this did not happen.
It speaks so much about the stature of Bryant that he overshadowed the Super Bowl this week.
Even though it came under an unfortunate circumstance no one fathomed.