Super Bowl Week has officially kicked off and though it wasn't the traditional 'Opening Night' the NFL is used to seeing to start the festivities, there were still plenty of storylines to follow. Done completely virtually this year, players and coaches from both the home team Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs took to their digital podiums, giving sound bite after sound bite.
In case you don't have time to go through all of them from the Bucs, here's a collection of some of the quotes from players and coaches alike:
Bruce Arians on the differences between this year and 2019 when he first took over as Head Coach:
"I think the first thing we wanted to do when we came in was to stop the losing culture, and the fact that little things mattered – losing was not acceptable. Our team last year got better and better. Going into the offseason we wanted to keep the defense intact and Jason did a great job of getting Shaq [Barrett] and [Ndamukong] Suh back, as that young secondary progressed. Then we put Tom in the mix. The guys have bought in. They know what accountability means and that's the only way you can get to this game, is being accountable to each other."
Running Backs Coach Todd McNair on Arians:
"He's a true father-figure for that core of us that played for him. I heard later on, he might have mentioned in his Football Life documentary, he talked about how I think it was Bear Bryant that taught him to 'coach them hard and love them up later.' And that's him. My whole career. You love him to death but there was times you call home like, I think he's going to cut me tomorrow. You really think, he hates my guts. But he just demands that you get your potential out of what you are as a player or even a coach. It's never personal. In the moment you can sometimes think that it is but it's all love. He's the epitome of tough love and the most loyal guy you'll ever meet."
Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles talking about the first time he met Arians when Arians took over as the Head Coach of the Temple Owls while Bowles was playing collegiately there:
"I knew he was a grinder. The very first time he came in we had this test, we had to run two three-thirtys and two one-sixtys and it was pretty much an Olympic time. It was the very first time I trained all summer and ran as hard as I could training to get ready for something. The guy I trained with ran before me and he passed out and they took him off on the stretcher. So there was no hope in me and I was just trying to finish. Nobody really passed the test that day and he got the whole team up the next morning at 6 a.m. to run more sprints because he said we weren't in shape. At that point, you could see it: the determination and the drive he had, not taking defeat as an answer."
Defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers speaking about Bowles' experience as head coach and how that's made him a better coordinator:
"When Todd became the head coach, he was still heavily involved in the defense. Defense is just in his blood but seeing the big picture now from being the head coach having to sit there and manage the game and control the timeouts and do that it's something that when he calls the game he has a better feel for how it's going. If the offense is really lighting it up, then hey now we can be more aggressive. If the offense is struggling a little bit, we cannot give up a play here. He has just become more well-rounded as a defensive coordinator after being the head coach. His mentality and his aggressiveness haven't changed at all, though."
Bowles on Kansas City's offense:
"They're playing well. Again, these guys won a lot of ball games regardless of who's playing. We can't worry about who's playing, we just have to try to slow down the team as a whole. We're not worried about a tackle or a guard. We put out there what we put out there. We've got two safeties hurting, they've got two tackles hurting so that evens it out a little more. But we just gotta do what we do better than they do what they do."
"We don't gotta be the best every day, we just have to be the best on Sunday."
Inside linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell on Devin White and Lavonte David being great blitzers:
"The first thing that comes with it is ability. They're athletic guys, they have speed and they have toughness, they have physicalness. But then after that, they're not just going running after the quarterback. They have a breakdown weekly of how they're going to attack a lineman, how they're going to attack a running back. So the preparation again goes into them having success on Sundays."
QB Coach Clyde Christensen on coaching alongside many of the coaches he has worked with throughout his coaching career:
"I think it's one of the cool things about sports – just the relationships. For me, I went to join Bruce [Arians] when we were all in our early 20s at Temple. A bunch of the guys here – Todd Bowles, Kevin Ross, Keith Armstrong and Nick Rapone – we were all together as 20-something year olds, having children, getting our families started [and] trying to figure out what coaching was all about. Just the loyalty and the relationship of it all is pretty darn neat and really been a blessing. It's really fun. It's fun to do it with guys you respect, trust and love. A lot of guys don't get to do that and I think that's kind of a little bit lost in our sport. You're on to the next staff, everything is about you [and] everything is about your personal career. I think this has been bigger than that. This has been about all of us believing in each other [and] B.A. It's built on years [and] it's not just coming to a town and signing a contract. This thing is built over a lot of years. I worked with Bruce at Temple and I worked with Bruce at [Indianapolis]. When he kind of got the band back together – which I think was one of his reasons for coming out of retirement – there's a lot of fun doing it with folks you know and folks you believe in. it's pretty darn special."
OL Coach Joe Gilbert talking about the impact small-school guys have made on the offensive line:
"I think that the offensive line, there's a lot of guys across the country – major college, small college, that have the ability to play at this level. I think it's unique in the sense that for offensive lineman, you're trying to look for guys that are tough, durable, smart and have the physical attributes that you're looking for at every position, guard or tackle. And I think the one thing that you want to try to find guys that have that mentality and it doesn't always necessarily have to be at the big schools. I think Jason and the group of guys here, Ali Marpet from Hobart and he got Ryan Jensen who played Division II. You've got Cap that played Division III. We've got some JMU guys, Aaron Stinnie at right guard now. I think they've done a great job evaluating that talent and getting it in here regardless of Division I down to Division III. It's amazing just to see how they've come so far as a group and I think we've grown as a group over the course of the season.
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Maral Javadifar reflecting on this season:
We're obviously very fortunate and we've had a great season, but we're not done. We still have another game to go and we're continuing to prepare to win the Super Bowl."
Assistant Head Coach and Run-Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin on QB Tom Brady and how he has changed since he first got to know him:
"Well, I've known Tom since Michigan. I think I was just getting into my coaching career when he was at Michigan as a young pup, so I've literally known him since he was 18 years old. He hasn't changed a bit. It's been interesting getting to know him as a professional athlete, just knowing what he's done in the past and to see how he operates. Me and him have a great relationship on and off the field. When he first got here, we FaceTimed each other one night and we probably talked for 30 minutes. At first it was pleasantries and then we got into football. We talked about protection, run game philosophies, how I saw things and how he saw things. We've done a great job of meshing what he likes on my end of the stick and me giving him some of my stuff that he likes, as well. We just mesh together pretty good. As far as a leader, that's what he's brought to this team. He's done a fabulous job and he gets a lot out of my offensive line to the point that I don't have to yell at all. He does all of the yelling."
Assistant Defensive Line Coach Lori Locust on the women's coaching pipeline and answering questions that you can ask another woman coach:
"Before the pipeline was put into existence through the forums – I think we're talking now four years since the very first one was put together. It felt very isolating at times to be doing what I was doing. I thought I was making the right steps. I really didn't have someone, other than my male colleagues, that I could ask about job tracking and where to go next. I tried to make common sense decisions on my own, but it's so much more valuable when you're sitting in a room and you're of like-minded individuals and you can start to connect with other women. I think the way this has been put together with the league and with Sam [Rapoport], it's very non-competitive when you're sitting with that same table of women [and] you're not all vying for the same positions type of mentality, but you're gathering information to take back to where you're at currently and say, 'OK, I know what I need to do next.' There's a framework that's been provided, whereas before – I knew I wanted to work for this semi-pro team and I knew I wanted to not work for that one. I knew I wanted to work for this arena team and I didn't want to work for that one. Now you have viable steps and you have people that you can reach out to, to ask those type of questions; 'If I do this, what about that? If I go here, what about this?' It's so valuable and I think it's something that we've been lacking, but now that it's in place I do feel like you're going to see a lot more qualified candidates being brought to the table. Hopefully the teams, like Tampa Bay, have set the example to start to look at candidates regardless of gender or color and really start to broaden their talent pool."
Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul on how he and OLB Shaquil Barrett feed off each other on the field:
"I think I'm just being myself. I can't speak for others. I'm just being myself, really. With all the things that I've been through, I'm overachieving. I'm letting everybody know that no matter what you go through, you can do whatever. Me and Shaq are just playing. Shaq goes out there, he plays and if he gets a sack, I want two. If I get two, he wants three. That's just how it goes. We try to talk to each other and be like, 'Let's get to the ball. This down, I've got it.' Stuff like that. Me and him are a great duo together and that's all I really can say. We're both relentless to the ball and try to get to the quarterback."
Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote on how gratifying this journey has been for him this season after reaching the Super Bowl both as a player and now as a coach:
"You've got to take that approach as a proud papa. Just watching those guys celebrate after the Green Bay game and just watching those guys in the locker room, it just made you feel good. Seeing the excitement on the plane ride and just looking at those guys – even last week – those guys are on cloud nine. Just [as] a guy that's been there, I'm trying to hunker them in [but] let them enjoy what is going on. That's why I'm always in favor of that week off in between the game to let guys settle down so that this week we can hone in on the Chiefs and what it's going to take to win."
Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett on the varying experience in the locker room with the Super Bowl game itself:
"From day one of being in the playoffs, you couldn't tell that these guys haven't been here before. They all had the energy, had the focus, mindsets were right. Like Lavonte, it seems like he's been here before. He's been leading us. Him, Devin, JPP, Leonard Fournette, he hasn't been to a Super Bowl but he's been stepping up and stuff. But everyone that has been here before has been doing that and making sure everybody understands what's at stake here and we've been feeding off of it and listening and following and that's why we are where we're at right now."
Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong on K Ryan Succop's consistency this season:
"He's a true professional. You can't ask for more. He's committed, he's a true pro, he brings all the other guys along with him and it's not with his mouth – it's by demonstration. He's a true leader and he's a serious guy. [He] takes his profession very seriously [and] he's a pleasure because he's the same guy every day. A true pro [and] he's a pleasure to be around."
Offensive Analyst Tom Moore on what this season has been like, especially with the COVID-19 protocols:
"Every season that you get involved in has its own personality. I thought in 1977 so I've been [there for] a lot of seasons. This one has taken on a completely different personality than the others but it's something that everybody had to go through. We had to go through it, the other 31 teams had to go through, and I keep going back to Bruce and I feel very fortunate to have an opportunity to work for Bruce. He's done just a masterful job, in my opinion, of handling the whole thing. The players have done a great job and are to be commended for their cooperation, their stick-to-it-tiveness with the process to keep this thing down so we didn't have a lot of episodes of it and it was not easy. There was a lot of discipline that was involved in it and the team showed a lot of great character in my personal opinion."
Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh's advice for young athletes:
"I would say for a young d-tackle or young defensive player coming up and wanting to aspire to be in the NFL is just understanding your craft and be able to hone-in on those details. Don't be afraid to learn from others and watch film and take notes. Work ethic and effort are things you can't teach. I think you can teach all the rest but if you have something special built into you from a high energy motor and a detail-oriented young man or woman then really the sky is the limit."
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Anthony Piroli on NT Vita Vea's return:
"Regarding Vita, we had that talk after the Chicago game, he and I, setting goals for everything, right, wrong or indifferent. We had to have goals set that were probably a little bit harder to achieve if we were going to keep him motivated in the right manner in a tough time to go out of the season early. Speaking with the medical side with Vita, we were trying to set the bar as high as possible within reason and I would say from the outside looking in, it definitely looks like everything happened really fast but I can assure you that was definitely a long, stressful journey for him that started the very next day after the injury in Chicago. Just definitely been chipping away day by day every time we were given a little bit more leeway to take him a step further, the preceding steps to get to that point were preparing him to go from the first time doing something, looking at maybe 50% of his previous self and the second time he almost looked like he did prior to the injury. I just think that it was a good, long thought out plan between my staff, the medical staff, the sports science staff and the coaching staff kind of putting our heads together and making sure that we're definitely crossing our t's and dotting our I's with him as it relates to the injury itself but then also making sure that as he is allowed to get back on the field, we're keeping the main thing the main thing which is keeping him playing defensive line the way he needs to play it."
"In our minds we definitely believed that if we got to this point in the year, there was a slight possibility that could happen."
Wide receiver Mike Evans on what he'll do if the Bucs win the Super Bowl:
"I do mark my moments with tattoos and if we win, absolutely, I'm getting the Lombardi somewhere on me. I don't know yet. Not my face. Maybe neck, or back, maybe somewhere on my arms but I'm definitely going to mark it if we get the 'W.'"
Wide receiver Chris Godwin on the difference in catching a ball from his former quarterback in Jameis Winston and his current quarterback in Tom Brady:
"I don't know if there is a difference in actually catching the ball but their playing styles are different. I think Jameis is a little bit more of a gunslinger and Tom is a little bit more I guess conservative with the passes that he throws. I think they both have their benefits. I think last year, me and Mike had a ton of yards with Jameis slinging it. That was a lot of fun. And this year, obviously it's down a bit but we're in the Super Bowl now so I think there's fun in both of them but I got love for both quarterbacks."