AVENTURA, Fla. — Nothing can fully prepare a player for a Super Bowl until he actually sees the spectacle for himself. As such, Dan Williams’s job last week was to bring that spectacle to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs quarterbacks as much as he could without a time machine.
Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and QBs coach Mike Kafka asked Williams, a coaching intern, to put together a presentation that would show Mahomes and the quarterbacks every quirk, every scheduling shift, every extra set of lights and every departure from any other game they might encounter in South Florida. Everything about the Super Bowl is a little different than a regular game.
The 12-minute video, which the quarterbacks watched last Friday, was designed to benefit all of the quarterbacks—but really, it was meant to help Mahomes prepare for the week ahead. It also showed how the Chiefs would approach the week, even if it didn’t quite say as much.
“Obviously, you can’t be 100%, but [Williams] was pretty close to it,” Mahomes said. “There are gonna be a few change-ups here and there, but I think we’re prepared for those.”
Williams enlisted Chiefs assistant director of video operations Ken Randino for production purposes, and he started scouring NFL Films footage, both from games and the America’s Game specials that showcase past Super Bowl champions.
Part of the video focused on the look of the stadium, and how these places take on a completely different identity when they’re hosting a Super Bowl. Williams showed the extra cameras in the tunnel and the locker room, the flashing bulbs at kickoff, the placement of the play clock and game clock, and even how the crowd’s cheering is different, since it’s mostly a neutral group (the Chiefs are ready to go on a silent count, if needed).
Then, Williams used clip from the 2013 Seahawks’ America’s Game to drive home why Andy Reid and his staff would strive for a normal practice week.
“Each player was like, ‘We practiced like it was a regular week,’” said backup quarterback Chad Henne, who’s on IR. “Coach [Pete] Carroll was always saying, ‘Let’s not take this like it’s a walkthrough. We’re gonna put the pads on, we’re gonna practice like it’s Week 1 of the season.’ And that’s what they said really helped them prepare, and get into the game.”
Williams also had slides detailed how different game day would be, from the extended time on the field pregame to the longer halftime show. Since players are creatures of habit, the coaches emphasized finding a way to manage emotions and energy with more downtime sprinkled from warmups to the final gun.
That point, in fact, was so important in the minds of Chiefs staffers that the quarterbacks had to hear it twice and see that particular slide twice. The got it first in the Friday meeting that Williams ran, then again on Sunday, when Reid presented it to the team with his own message.
“Coach Reid, we’ve been talking about this for about the last three weeks—making sure before kickoff, you take some time to relax,” Bieniemy said. “There’s roughly about 23-24 minutes when we come back on the field, prior to kickoff, where you’re just gonna have to sit, meditate and find a way to relax, and then just understanding that all eyes are on you. Every camera’s gonna be flickering.
“It’s just making sure you’re managing your calmness, maintaining your poise, understanding that yeah, we’re prepared, we’ll be ready, but there’s a calmness to it too.”
“So much of the time, so much of the hoopla, not to get fired up too early [is important],” backup quarterback Matt Moore said, “because there’s just so much time from the time we come out to the time we actually kick and go, which is really different from a regular game.”
The Chiefs have some players (Terrell Suggs, Stefen Wisniewski) who have been here before, but they have 44 guys who’ll dress Sunday on this stage for the first time. It’s hard to say any of them are truly ready for it until they get there. The Chiefs know that, with the hope being that, thanks to Williams’s video, the environment doesn’t look completely foreign by the time they get there.
“It was really cool,” Mahomes said. “He showed us some interviews from people in the past who’d played in Super Bowls and how they prepared and what they thought they did well and what they thought they could’ve done better. And then after that, it was every detail, every pregame warmup from last year. It really prepared us to be here and do everything this week.”
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