Keega-Michael Key heads for the red carpet. Photo: Jennifer Brett

Behind the scenes at the NFL Honors

I had a better behind-the-scenes view of the NFL Honors than I probably should have.

The massive event shut down a chunk of Midtown directly in front of and around the Fox Theatre, where it was held on Saturday night. I went through (no kidding) more intense security screenings then when I covered the presidential inauguration in 2017, only to discover there was no spot for me on the red carpet.


Having gone through all that formidable security screening, though, people who’d been cleared by machines, dogs and guys in lots of tactical gear weren’t necessarily hemmed in place as is the case with lots of celebrity red carpets. So, I decided to wander a little, and I dare say I had a more entertaining view than some of my officially placed print and broadcast brethren.

There was a huge logjam on the red carpet. Celebs like Hunter McGrady, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model who's in town on behalf of Olay, used the time to check their phones. Photo: Jennifer Brett

Here’s what it was like.

“THANK YOU, MR. BLANK!” A small section of bleachers was set up right behind the official drop spot where carefully curated superfans (people willing to spend half the day sitting around cheering wildly on demand during practice sessions, in other words) welcomed arrivals. The applause felt genuine throughout the night and never more so than when Atlanta Falcons and United owner Arthur Blank stepped out of his SUV with sons Max and Josh and daughter Kylie.

The man! Photo: Jennifer Brett

“SKRT!” In what had to be a peak Atlanta moment, the line of SUVs dispatching players and other notables backed up, as traffic sometimes does here, and a throng of A-listers was left sort of milling around. A nervous-sounding security guy started barking into his phone to someone who presumably had the power to change things. Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill cut through the morass like a hot knife through butter and zoomed up on a Lime scooter.

“This way?” It wasn’t entirely clear at first which path talent was supposed to take to head up the red carpet. Ambling around for a few moments was actor Paul Rudd, who has filmed “The Fundamentals of Caring” and Marvel projects “Ant-Man,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War” here. (Up next: “Avengers: Endgame.”) On Saturday night he played the role of grieving Chiefs fan and sympathetic dad.

“They say time heals all wounds. I’m a Chiefs fans and I’m here to tell you, two weeks is not enough time,” said Rudd, whose team did not play on Sunday night. He revealed that his adorable 9-year-old daughter drew a banner depicting the Chiefs as champs before the New England Patriots shoved them aside.

“Why does God hate the Chiefs?” little Darby Rudd asked later, to which her dad quipped, “Sweetheart, God doesn’t hate the Chiefs. He hates me.”

“Coming through!” NFL legend Jim Brown turns 83 soon, and was making his way carefully up the red carpet when it dawned on folks, maybe we should move aside. Without anyone’s official request, the crowd parted like the Red Sea to let the great man pass. It was a nice moment.

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

At the after-party

GQ hosted a follow-up soiree at Gallery 874. Guests paricipating in the late-night festivities included Jon Bon Jovi, Malcom Jamal Warner, Kristine Leahy and Keegan-Michael Key.

Photo: Omar Vega
Photo: Omar Vega

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About the Author

Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for