MIAMI — Enough with the past. [Bill Belichick voice] We’re onto the future.
This season the NFL invested countless hours and dollars promoting its own history this season with an aggressive NFL 100 campaign to celebrate the centennial season. The vestibule outside the NFL’s main fan experience exhibit here in Miami Beach has a series of displays showing off the “Chronology of Pro Football” from 1869 to the present day. There’s a display with each member of the prestigious NFL All-Time Team that was rolled out this year. Highlights of great moments in NFL history have played on loop all week on televisions with competing volume.
But looking back on the past was so yesterday. At Roger Goodell’s press conference on Wednesday, it felt like everyone was finished looking back.
The journalists called upon to ask questions inquired about the future of the league: Future cities that might host teams (London, Mexico and Toronto), future stadiums (Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Buffalo), future CBAs, future prime time games in L.A. and more. Goodell was asked when the NFL would come back for another Super Bowl in Miami. We haven’t even gotten through this one yet.
There were some questions about the season we just lived through. One reporter asked about this season’s concussion data. Another asked about a resolution in the Patriots-Bengals Spygate Returns scandal. Another asked a thoughtful question about what Goodell has learned in the now five years since the Ray Rice suspension.
But nobody asked about the officiating this season or about reviewable pass interference, a major change implemented this year. Nobody asked about concerns of more widespread tanking. It was mostly just on to the next thing, even if the next thing was 10 years down the line.
The question that hammered this point home was when someone asked Goodell if he had thought about retirement, which seemed to catch him off-guard. “One thing I’ve learned is that your work is never done,” he said. “There are always things to do.”
Everyone is just obsessed with talking about the future. More games, more schedules, more contracts, more draft picks, more free agents, more trades, more stadiums, more TV deals.
The NFL is famously obsessed with itself and its own growth. After a solid year of reminiscing and obsessing over the past with the NFL 100 campaign, everyone around the league is back to thinking about what’s next.
A few words with…
Pitbull was unavailable yet again, but I did manage to secure an interview with another beloved figure you’ve seen many times on television. You know him best as K.C. Wolf, mascot for the Kansas City Chiefs. But Dan Meers, the man who has performed inside the suit since the character was created, stepped out of costume for a chat about what it’s like prepping for the Super Bowl as a mascot.
MG: How long have you been K.C. Wolf?
DM: This is my 30th season, I’ve been at it a while.
MG: What do you like most about the job?
DM: The best part of my job is the relationships you build with people. I’m constantly interacting with people, every day. Whether it’s nursing homes, hospitals, schools, churches, parades. I mean, I love football but at the end of the day it’s just making people smile, making people laugh. I once heard a quote—it’s on my desk at Arrowhead Stadium: Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper. It doesn’t change anything permanently, but it sure makes things more bearable for a while. And so every day I just try to go out and put a smile on people’s face.
MG: What’s something about being an NFL mascot that most people wouldn’t know?
DM: It’s a lot of hard work. People see the fun stuff. People will get to see me on TV at the Super Bowl. They don’t see me sitting in my basement, pedaling a stationary bike for mile after mile trying to condition to get myself in shape. So that’s the part that people don’t see about the job. Now I’m not gonna lie, it’s a fun job. Every day is fun. It’s different. You never have the same day twice. But there is a little bit of work that goes into it.
MG: How well do you know [49ers mascot] Sourdough Sam? Is that a friendship or a rivalry?
DM: You know what, Sourdough Sam is a very good friend of mine, as a matter of fact. He’s not a good enough friend that I’m going to cheer for his team, come Sunday. But he and I have known each other for a long time and we’re having a lot of fun together this weekend.
MG: So did you text him last week when you both clinched your Super Bowl berths?
DM: I did. I was excited to know that he was gonna be the one that was gonna be with me this weekend, because he’s a great guy.
MG: Are there certain players, either on your team or opponents, who are fun to mess with? Anyone in particular, good sports you like playing around with when you’re in costume?
DM: With the Chiefs, my favorite guy, it’s just because I’ve known him forever and he’s been a Chief forever, our punter Dustin Colquitt is just a great guy. He’s great with the fans, he’s up for our Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, he’s our Chiefs representative. I do a lot of appearances with him around the community.
MG: I’m sure you’ve been thinking forever about doing a Super Bowl. What’s the one moment you’re most looking forward to on Sunday?
DM: I’m excited just to finally get to experience it. I’ve been an NFL mascot for 30 seasons. And two weeks ago, when we finally beat the Titans and I knew I was gonna go to a Super Bowl, that was a special moment. I just can’t wait for Sunday to roll around, and kickoff to happen. I’ll be standing there, just knowing that, Hey I made it to Super Bowl LIV.
MG: Do you get friends and family tickets like the players? Will you have your own cheering section in the stands?
DM: My wife is coming to town on Friday. And we’ve got some good friends of ours that are gonna be with her. I don’t know how much time I’m gonna get to spend with her during Super Bowl week, because I’m very, very busy doing appearances. But I’ll have at least one person there cheering for me, and I know my mom and dad will be cheering for me back home.
MG: The players are all talking about what they do to get ready for a game, and all their preparation. For you to be in peak form on Sunday, what do you have to do between now and game time to be ready?
DM: Well I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep on Saturday night. And then, you know I’m here in Miami. We just came from Kansas City, where I shoveled snow off my driveway about four days ago. The last couple games I’ve done, it’s been below 30 degrees in Kansas City. And I think it’s gonna be a little warmer than that in Miami. So I’ll be drinking a lot of water and getting hydrated for the game on Sunday.
The MMQB staff made their picks for winner, score and MVP for Super Bowl LIV.
Jenny Vrentas wrote about Patrick Mahomes’s barber and his signature haircut. (Would have been a better story if she got the haircut.)
Conor Orr wrote about what we learned from Roger Goodell’s press conference.
Albert Breer’s mailbag includes notes from scouts on the key to Super Bowl LIV.
One last chance to find Pitbull…
I hope he’s at [checks schedule] Jimmy Garoppolo’s press conference.
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