Thirteen years after a Houston Super Bowl that featured Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction," Lady Gaga is hinting at an equally polarizing halftime show during Sunday's Super Bowl LI game between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium.
In a news conference Thursday, the politically active singer said she was not altering the tone of her traditionally inclusive act.
"The only statements I'll be making during the halftime show are the ones that I've been consistently making throughout my career,'' said Lady Gaga, who was an outspoken critic of President Trump during the recent campaign. "I believe in passion for inclusion. I believe in the spirit of equality, and that the spirit of this country is one of love and compassion and kindness.
"My performance will uphold those philosophies.''
Earlier, "Entertainment Tonight'' reported that Lady Gaga would be prohibited from mentioning Trump during her 13-minute show, but the NFL denied the report. Nonetheless, Lady Gaga indicated that she would be singing for those who have been marginalized.
"That kid that couldn't get a seat at the cool kids' table, and that kid that was kicked out of the house because his mom and dad didn't accept him for who he was? That kid is going to have the stage for 13 minutes,'' said Lady Gaga. "And I'm excited to give that to them.''
When asked if she thought she could contribute to the unifying of a fractured America, she said, "You'll have to ask America when it's over.''
The only controversy involving national anthem singer Luke Bryan is his choice of Super Bowl teams. Bryan is from Atlanta and said he's a big Falcons fan, but acknowledged leading a "Free Brady'' chant during a concert at the Patriots' home, Gillette Stadium.
"My Falcons are in there … still love you, Boston!'' said Bryan, a country boy adeptly straddling that picket fence.
Rutgers has more players in the Super Bowl than any other college.
Defensive backs Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon play for the Patriots, and receiver Mohamed Sanu for the Falcons.
"It's pretty cool," Ryan said, "and hopefully, it inspires kids from our area where I grew up to follow in my footsteps and do what they feel is right."
McCourty said the lessons learned in college prepared him for Super Bowl opportunities.
"A lot of days where you felt like you did too much or the work was too hard, once you get to this spot and this opportunity, you realize all it did was prepare you to do whatever needs to be done as far as playing, preparing and being a leader," he said. "I learned all of that at Rutgers."
Sanu and Ryan were college roommates. They competed against each other in practice and often talked about playing in the NFL.
Now they will face each other in its biggest game.
"It will be a lot of fun," Sanu said. "It'll be just like old times.
"Just compete harder than ever and just enjoy it."
New England will play the Oakland Raiders next season in Mexico, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft apparently can't wait.
"We're so excited about that because we have a great fan club there," Kraft said. "I get a lot of mail from Mexico. I love Mexican food. I like all food, but especially Mexican food.
"It's really special for us to go down there. I know the whole team is excited."
The Patriots played in Mexico City in 1998, defeating the Dallas Cowboys, 21-3, in an exhibition that drew 106,424 to Estadio Azteca.
"It was just an amazing place," Kraft said. "Now all of our friends from South America as well as Mexico will hopefully come to that game."
The NFL Players Assn. said there would be no extension of the 10-year labor agreement signed in 2011, but the union would be open to a renegotiation before that deal expires.
Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said that "no one is going to slip an addendum that is going to extend this [collective bargaining agreement] another few years."
Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Eric Winston, the union president, said there was a "need to up research and what sort of equipment we can look at."
Winston also noted that the NFLPA has to "work with the teams because there has to be better adherence to the concussion protocol."
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein