GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Super Bowl had something for everyone.
Long before Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the biggest winner of this NFL season walked onto the field. Damar Hamlin came out to a rousing ovation during a pregame ceremony honoring the men and women who saved his life.
Hamlin’s third appearance of the week was the best feel-good moment on a day filled with many inspirational themes.
Mahomes and Jalen Hurts put on a historic show in the first Super Bowl featuring two Black starting quarterbacks. Hurts was spectacular but Mahomes played through an ankle injury and rallied the Chiefs from a 10-point deficit for a 38-35 comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
It was yet another lesson on dealing with adversity and rising to the occasion playing out before hundreds of millions of viewers on the sport’s biggest stage.
“I appreciate it because of the failures,” Mahomes said about winning his second championship in four years. “I mean the failure of losing a Super Bowl and losing the AFC championship game gives you a greater appreciation to be standing here as a champion."
Brotherhood was on display in the first Super Bowl matchup involving two brothers playing on different teams. Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce caught a touchdown pass to help his team topple All-Pro center Jason Kelce and the Eagles. Mama Kelce was everywhere throughout the week and sat between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Hamlin in a suite.
“There’s nothing I can say to him other than I love him and he played a hell of a year, a hell of a season,” Travis Kelce said. “To see my family be in all its glory and get all its flowers, my mom be the center of attention on the Jumbotron before the game on the biggest stage and being able to get closer with my brother throughout the season and to meet him at the mountain top, it’s the best feeling in the world. I don’t know how many more I got left, but I’ll cherish this one forever.”
Donna Kelce was the most popular mother in Arizona until Rihanna showed up for a scintillating halftime show. The superstar singer kicked off and finished her superb performance soaring high above the slippery field surface on a platform that was suspended in the air.
And, she did it while pregnant. Rihanna’s representative confirmed afterward that she’s pregnant with her second child.
“So iconic for Rihanna to let an American football game happen at her pregnancy reveal/concert,” a fan wrote on Twitter.
Even the commercials had a warm, fuzzy vibe. Advertisers used familiar celebrity faces, light humor and plenty of cute dogs in ads that cost as much as $7 million for 30 seconds.
About the only negative on Super Sunday was a controversial penalty on the final drive of the game that left viewers feeling angry that officiating again impacted a playoff game. A defensive holding call on Eagles cornerback James Bradberry allowed Kansas City to keep the ball, run down the clock and Harrison Butker kicked the go-ahead 27-yard field goal with 8 seconds left.
But Bradberry quickly squashed the outrage, saying he held the receiver.
“It was a holding. I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide,” Bradberry said.
On a day filled with unifying events, Bradberry’s acknowledgement was a prime example of losing with dignity.
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