The reporters, camera operators and assorted characters that are part of the annual Super Bowl opening night crowded into a semicircle around Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. It was about two-thirds thinner than the six-deep crowd that an hour earlier had ringed his more accomplished counterpart, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
But Foles appeared to be enjoying the moment Monday night at Xcel Energy Center.
The backup who stepped in for injured Carson Wentz late in the season had prepped for the event.
“I’m not going to lie,” Foles said. “I Googled it just to see what it looked like, and it’s pretty wild.”
Foles, though, looked and sounded as comfortable as he did while leading the Eagles to playoff victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.
“I’m speaking from the heart,” he said. “The good thing about it is there is a positive thing to answering all these questions — I will sleep really well tonight.
“When I get to bed, I’m going to sleep really good.”
Foles said he was “just a piece of the puzzle” for the Eagles, and that Wentz has been helping him ever since he stepped into the lineup. Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Rams in Week 14.
“He’s absolutely helping me,” Foles said. “This is Carson’s team.”
But it was Foles who was on one of the select podiums.
During the session, Foles was approached by a cast member of a national television show, who asked him to sign Brady’s book, “TB12: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.”
Foles said he would wait until after the game to avoid “a bad aura” that might result.
“You’re going to get some crazy questions,” he said. “I don’t have a cook book yet, I haven’t arrived, which is fine. I’ll come out with a cook book later.”
Brady, who had stitches removed from his right hand last week, wore a knit hat and sported black gloves on both hands during his session.
Brady, making his eighth Super Bowl appearance, appeared upbeat throughout.
The day did not start out that way.
Before the Patriots left Foxborough, Mass., Brady cut short a regular weekly radio interview with station WEEI because a station employee had disparaged his daughter on a different radio show.
Brady and his family are the subject of a Facebook video series, “Tom vs Time.”
Alex Reimer described Brady’s 5-year-old daughter as “an annoying little pissant.”
Word got back to Brady, who did not take kindly to the comment.
“I’ve tried to come on this show for many years and showed you guys a lot of respect,” Brady told WEEI. “I’ve always tried to come on and do a good job for you guys. So, it’s very disappointing when you hear that, certainly with my daughter, or any child, they certainly don’t deserve that.”
Brady said he would evaluate whether he would appear on the show again, and then went on to end the interview.
“I really don’t have much to say this morning,” he said. “Maybe I’ll speak with you guys some other time.”
The Patriots arrived in Minneapolis on Monday afternoon and were at the media event several hours later.
“I just think any parent is really protective of their kids,” Brady said, “and I’ve never stayed away from criticism. I understand that criticism is part of sports, but I certainly don’t think my children or any other children really deserve to be in that.”
Reimer was suspended by the radio station but Brady said he did not want anyone to lose their job over the situation.
“We all have careers and we all make mistakes,” he said, “and I mean I’d hate for someone to have to change their life over something like that. That was certainly not what he intended.”
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is reportedly set to be hired as coach of the Indianapolis Colts after the Super Bowl.
McDaniels did not address the situation specifically but said his focus was on the Eagles.
“They demand every bit of your attention, and they’re going to get it all week long,” McDaniels said.
During the playoffs last season, McDaniels interviewed for jobs, including with the Rams, who hired Sean McVay.
McDaniels interviewed with the Colts twice this month.
He said coaches are accustomed to multitasking, so interviewing for head coaching positions was not a distraction.
“There was time set aside for doing that, and that time was used the right way,” he said. “And after that, it’s been all about this team and this year and this season and what we’re trying to accomplish as a team here.
“And that’s where my focus has stayed, and that’s where it will stay this week.”