Let The Game Begin, Super Bowl LI Starts With Massive Opening Night

(Houston, TX) – Super Bowl LI officially kicked off in Houston Monday with a mass media opening night featuring both the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, fans and broadcasting networks from all over the world. Each team had an hour to entertain the press. Here are some of the highlights from opening night from both QBs, top receiver Julio Jones and Coach Belichick
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 Falcons QB Matt Ryan
(on how he feels) “I feel good. We had a good practice, walkthrough today and to get here and see this deal tonight, it’s pretty cool. It’s fun to be apart of with my teammates.”
(on following an 8-8 season in 2015 with a MVP-caliber campaign and Super Bowl appearance the next year) “I think we’ve come a long way. We’ve gotten better, and that was one of the things we focused on this offseason, trying to find ways to improve as a team, as an offense. I think the addition of some of the players that we picked up – guys like Taylor (Gabriel), Alex Mack, Aldrick Robinson, Mohamed Sanu – just have added to our team and made us a better offense.”
(on the Falcons’ top-ranked offense competing with the Patriots’ defense) “New England has a great defense and watching them on film, their ability to keep people out of the end zone has been unbelievable all year. So we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us, but I think everybody’s looking forward to Sunday.”
(on combating New England’s attempts to take Julio Jones out of the game plan) “We’ve got to move him around a little bit and try to make it difficult for them to tee off on where he’s going to be. Even when he gets double teamed he has made plays for us all year. So we’ve got a lot of guys who can do it and I know Julio is going to have a great game for us.”
Falcons WR Julio Jones
(on the best part about making it to the Super Bowl) “The hard work paid off. That’s the best part of being here for us. It’s any other day for us. We just have to continue to keep putting that work in. There’s nothing spectacular for us that we need to go out here and make stuff up.
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(on what a win on Sunday will mean to him) “It’ll be great. It’ll be great. Just looking to celebrate after the game but now just staying in it. The process – don’t want to overlook anything. It’s just one day at a time for me.”
(on the bracelet he wears) “Friends of the family for about nine years now. Christina Jones is a good friend of mine. Through my recruiting process and everything, we became friends going to the University of Alabama. Obviously, you know her brother passed away in a basketball game with no meaning behind it. We didn’t know the cause of it so I wear the bracelet every game now. After the Chiefs game, the family came down and they gave me the bracelet so this signifies just him, me going out there and just playing and leaving it all out on the line.”
Patriots QB Tom Brady
(on how long he can play) “I think as long as I’m willing to make the commitment to taking good care of myself. I got a good routine. It has gotten better as the years have gone on. You (Willie McGinest) taught me. 2004, you said this is what you got to do, and I listened. It’s nice to feel better as the season goes. To be an older player and have the mental experience and then to also feel great physically, I think it’s a great benefit for me. Hopefully I can keep going. I don’t see any end in sight.”
Super Bowl Opening Night at Minute Maid Park
HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 30: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots speaks with the media during Super Bowl 51 Opening Night at Minute Maid Park on January 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(on playing in his seventh Super Bowl) “It hit me today (at) the pep rally. When I saw those fans out there, you realize this is different and this just is special. It’s a special experience. Getting on the plane was great and landing, seeing all the cameras and then getting to the hotel. It has been a long day for us, but I think everyone is excited to be here, get in a little bit of a routine and then focus on playing some football.”
Patriots Coach Dan Belichick
(on best coaching advice he has received) “I have received a lot. I would say probably most of the best advice I have ever received was from my dad. Either what he told me or watching him coach. I would be here all night talking about that. A lot of life lessons. I would say my dad and the things he told me.”
Super Bowl Opening Night at Minute Maid Park
HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 30: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots speaks with the media during Super Bowl 51 Opening Night at Minute Maid Park on January 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(on advice for Brady) “I think for the entire team we all understand we need to play our best game. We need to do a great job in our execution and in all of the things that are important fundamentally to having good plays no matter what the plays are. Hopefully we can do that as a team. That goes for everybody.”
(on players willing to take less money to play in New England) “We can’t control what the other 31 teams do. We don’t try to control that. We just try to do what we can do. Sometimes that works in the negotiations, sometimes it doesn’t. Each one is different. If a player and a team can agree on a contract, then they sign it. If they can’t they don’t. We don’t really know what anyone else does. We can’t control that anyways. We just do what we can do. Some work out. Some don’t.”
(on his coaching career without Tom Brady) “Tom missed the 2008 season.”
(on the partnership between Brady and himself) “I have been very fortunate to coach Tom. Tom is a tremendous player. He is a tremendous competitor. He prepares extremely hard. He comes to work every day and gives his very best effort. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to coach Tom for these years. I think I have a lot of respect for him. There is a mutual respect there. We each have a job to do. It is very different. All the jobs are important, but we try to find a way to do our jobs and help the team win the best that we can. I think he does a great job of that. That is what I try to do. From that standpoint we have a great relationship. We both want to win. We both want to do what it takes to win. That is our focus pretty much every game. It is not always the same game plan, but trying to get to the same end point.”
Opening night was the kickoff to a long week of several activities for fans to enjoy. There will be one more media event with the coaches and players today. The last one until Super Bowl Sunday. Another highlight of the week will be the NFL Honors Show scheduled for Saturday night and hosted by Keegan-Michael Key. Super Bowl LI Kickoff is Sunday at 6:30 pm.
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