Workers use a lift to install a Super Bowl LIII wrap on the outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium as it is transformed for the big game. 
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

LIVE UPDATES: Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta

Super Bowl 53 was played Sunday in Atlanta and the staff of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tackled the job of covering it.

We had dozens of reporters, photographers and other staffers at and around Mercedes-Benz Stadium bringing you our city’s big story and informing you of every tantalizing tidbit of Super Bowl 53 news as it happened on Super Bowl Sunday. 


Complete coverage of the game

Latest traffic news

Super Bowl 2019 buzz, social reactions

In Sunday's AJC: A Super Bowl worthy of a movie poster


Midnight: This live blog is wrapping up its coverage of Super Bowl 53. There are still parties going on around Atlanta, and Pats fans are still celebrating. Pick up the AJC’s souvenir edition for all you Super Bowl news.

Photo: Tia Mitchell/AJC

11:05 p.m: Family and friends of Patroit’s wide receiver Phillip Dorsett watched him get his first Super Bowl ring at the home of Karan and Victor Rhodes in Smyrna. 

Dorsett is #13. Uncle Tony Dorsett called the victory “awesome. It was an amazing scene. He’s accomplished success as a result of hard work and dedication and staying humble.”

Friends and Family of Patroit’s wide receiver Phillip Dorsett watched Super Bowl 53 from Smyrna.
Photo: Shelia Poole/AJC

Josh Reid and his parents decided to drive 11 hours overnight to Atlanta in part because of the weather. In Niles, Michigan, where they live, it was 20 below zero with a 50 below wind chill this week. The fact that their favorite team was in the Super Bowl didn’t hurt. 

“We were like, ‘Yeah, we don’t have tickets, but why not?’” Reid said. Reid and his parents watched the game at downtown restaurant Max Lager’s. He was surprised at how few Rams fans he’s seen this weekend.“It was crazy, there weren’t a lot of people in the restaurant but there was not one Rams fan,” Reid said. “But I guess that’s what happens when you uproot a team and lose half the fan base.”

Reid learned to be “cautiously optimistic” about the Patriots’ prospects after the 2008 Super Bowl, in which the New York Giants beat the Patriots and ended New England’s preciously undefeated season. The Patriots’ five losses to “bad teams” this year wasn’t encouraging to Reid, but once they started the playoffs, he felt more confident.

Seeing them crush the Chargers (in October), I was like, ‘We could really do this,’” Reid said.

 Shelia Poole and Amanda C. Coyne


10: 30 p.m.: If you’re taking MARTA from the game, the system is currently running smoothly. There is a steady stream of people leaving Mercedes-Benz Stadium and using the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center Station, where trains were departing eastbound every five minutes.

Fans leaving the Super Bowl board trains at MARTA's Dome Station on Sunday night Feb. 3, 2019.
Photo: David Wickert/AJC

The commute will be a bit tougher for some drivers leaving the game. GDOT reported a major accident on Northbound I-285 Past Camp Creek that was blocking all lanes. 

Thousands of travelers are expected to head straight to Hartsfield-Jackson airport after the game and spend the night in the terminal until their flights the next day. 

Passengers will be able to pass through security up to 24 hours before their flights, meaning some can spend the night on the concourses in gate areas.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re headed to the airport.

— David Wickert, Alexis Stevens, Kelly Yamanouchi


10:20 p.m.: It’s celebration time for Patriots fans, many of whom have taken to the streets of Atlanta to cheer the winning team.

Pamela Evans has been a fan of the Patriots since making a bet with her father over a Pats game in 1989. They lost that game, but she was hooked on the team. 

Evans goes to at least four Patriots games a year, traveling from her hometown of Elkton, Maryland. She made the 13-hour car trip to Atlanta because, to her, it was something she needed to check off her bucket list. 

Evans was worried but confident during the long stretch of time the game was tied 3-3, but she never lost faith. 

“It was very stressful, but that’s how Brady plays,” Evans said. “He plays down to the last minute, but I always have trust and confidence in the team.”

Evans planned to return to her hotel quickly and rest up in preparation for the 13-hour return drive home.

— Amanda C. Coyne


10:05 p.m: It’s over. The New England Patriots have won Super Bowl 53 beating the Los Angeles Rams.


9:20 p.m.: Shortly after 9 p.m., an Atlanta police spokeswoman said there had been "no significant incidents" to report.

Law enforcement officers from 40 local and state agencies, plus numerous federal agencies, were assisting with security for the Super Bowl. Officers were visible throughout the area near Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as well as on downtown streets a few miles away.

Armed police officers are visible outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium ahead of Super Bowl LIII between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. (HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM)

— Alexis Stevens


9 p.m.In addition to the big-name musicians, more than 300 members and alumni of the Georgia State University band performed during Sunday night's halftime entertainment.

“This has been an incredible experience for the Panther Band and we are honored to be part of this project,” Devin Reid, assistant director of bands, said. “The day I got to tell the students was incredibly memorable… Watching the band perform on the field was truly remarkable, something I’ll remember forever.”

— Alexis Stevens


8:25 p.m.: We didn’t get the OutKast reunion many of us were hoping for during the Super Bowl halftime show, but Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi put on rousing performances. Read more about the show from AJC music and entertainment reporter Melissa Ruggieri. 

As we get back into the game, check out a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the action thus far.


7:55 p.m.  Atlanta’s police force has been working 12-hour shifts to keep the city safe for Super Bowl LIII.

On Sunday, Chief Erika Shields took to the streets as they neared the finish line.

7:35 p.m: With Super Bowl Live closed and the game in full swing, Centennial Olympic Park is dark and sparsely populated compared to the gametime festivities at nearby bars and restaurants.  

Trash cans are overflowing with garbage and ledges are stacked with empty food containers and beer bottles. Kids are having fun climbing inside the large Olympic rings. Some young folks are taking advantage of the relative empty park to play on dockless motorized scooters.

Photo: Amanda C. Coyne

— Amanda C. Coyne


6:55 p.m.: While most of us are watching the Super Bowl (did you see the missed Patriots field goal?) some in Atlanta are staying as far from the game as possible.

Mahnoor Fatima and Riya Patel are graduate students at the Savannah College of Art and Design who walked to Atlantic Station to grab lattes and croissants from Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House.

What Super Bowl? Mahnoor Fatima and Riya Patel walked to Atlantic Station on Sunday to grab lattes and croissants from Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House.
Photo: Tia Mitchell/AJC

Both Fatima, from Pakistan, and Patel, of India, are new to Atlanta. And neither has much knowledge of American football. This is why they were still sitting at an outdoor table at the time of Super Bowl kickoff. 

“We don’t know about it; that’s why we aren’t invested,” Patel said. “All we care about is the traffic coming afterward,” Fatima said.

Also at Atlanta Station, Auddia Granberry was spending her last few hours with LeAnthony Freeman before catching a flight home to Kansas City, so the two opted for quality time instead of in front of a TV. 

They had lunch at Tassili’s Raw Reality Cafe, a vegan restaurant in the West End, before coming to Atlantic Station to catch a movie. 

Auddia Granberry and LeAnthony Freeman play chess at Atlantic Station instead of watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.
Photo: Tia Mitchell/AJC

Then Freeman gave Granberry a chess tutorial using the oversized game board outside the theater. 

“It wasn’t in the plans really; I leave tonight,” Granberry said about the Super Bowl. 

“We wanted to get as much time with each other as we can,” Freeman said.

— Tia Mitchell


6:30 p.m.: Here we go! After Gladys Knight’s rendition of the national anthem, Super Bowl LII kicks off. Enjoy the game!

Gladys Knight at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.
Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC
 

Tapping into Atlanta's Civil Rights legacy, Andrew Young, John Lewis and Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., participated in the opening coin toss. Bernice King had the honor of actually tossing the coin. The Patriots captain called head. The coin came up tails. The Patriots elected to defer.

Read more about the their involvement here

— Ernie Suggs


6:20 p.m.: As we listen to Atlanta natives Chloe x Halle beautifully sing “America the Beautiful,” here’s a story sure to pull at your heartstrings.

We brought you the story of the Patel’s earlier this week. Remember the hard core UGA family split about who to root for in the Superbowl?

Dad Darsit and son Liam, both pulling for the Patriots, made it inside the game. But not without drama.

Daughter Ava Patel is a huge Nick Chubb fan. So Darsit and Liam stopped by the Super Bowl Experience before the game and scored an autographed ball from the former UGA great.

Liam Patel
Photo: Contributed

But when they tried to enter Mercedes-Benz stadium, they weren’t allowed in with it.

“They told us that we had to take it back to the car,” Darsit Patel said. “But we took MARTA. So, we had to throw it in the trash.”

The Patel guys were disappointed, but not too much, moments away from kickoff. They are hoping to get another Chubb ball.

Or.

“We will try to find it and get it after the game,” Darsit said. “But I doubt it will be there.”

Nick Chubb, if you’re reading this: we need another ball.

— Ernie Suggs


6:10 p.m.: The roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium is opening for the pregame festivities. 

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Here’s the plan, weather permitting. The roof will be closed during on-field warm-ups and then open for pregame festivities, including the national anthem featuring a flyover from the Air Force Thunderbirds. The roof will then close for the remainder of the night.”

  

— Greg Bluestein


6 p.m.: With a half hour before kickoff the stadium is about three-quarters full but the noise is already deafening. Fans lit up when the Rams and Patriots took the field for warmups, and an ear splitting mix of boos and cheers greeted Patriots QB Tom Brady. 

Celebrities including Jon Bon Jovi and Usain Bolt wandered the sidelines. And civil rights leaders John Lewis and Andrew Young waited for the coin toss.

Civil rights leaders John Lewis and Andrew Young on the field before the start of Super Bowl LII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.
Photo: Greg Bluestein/AJC

— Greg Bluestein


5:32 p.m.: Mercy Osazin wasn’t ready to go in the stadium at 5:30, an hour before game time. “Right now, I want to keep partying,” the Grofton, Massachusetts resident said from the porch at Dantanna’s. 

The restaurant and bar in the CNN center, in view of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, was packed to the gills with fans celebrating the big game. Multiple portable .: bars were stocked on the patio to ensure the crush of guests didn’t go too long without a drink. 

Scene at Dantanna’s restaurant and bar in the CNN center, in view of Mercedes-Benz Stadium before Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.
Photo: Amanda C. Coyne/AJC

This is Osazin’s first Super Bowl. She made the trip to Atlanta to support Obi Melifonwu, a defensive back for the Patriots. Osazin is best friends with Melifonwu’s mother. Both of them raised families in Grofton after moving from out of the country, and Melifonwu graduated from Grofton High School before heading to the University of Connecticut. Melifonwu signed with the Patriots in November after being released by the Oakland Raiders. 

Osazin was excited she could not only cheer on her friend’s son, but her favorite team. Osazin has been a football fan since high school, originally cheering for the Edmonton Eskimos in her native Canada. Since moving to Massachusetts, she’s been a huge Pats fan. Osazin didn’t have a guess at the game’s final score; she just hoped that the Patriots would win.

“I’m okay if we win by one point,” Osazin said. But win or lose, there will still be a party after the game, she said.

—Amanda C. Coyne


5 p.m.:  As we get closer to game time, security checkpoint lines to get inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium are long.

 

And, check out these photos from AJC photographer Branden Camp of fans making their way to the stadium. See more photos from inside the stadium here

Passengers arrive at the Georgia World Congress Center MARTA stop before the Super Bowl 53 football game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL
Passengers arrive at the Georgia World Congress Center MARTA stop before the Super Bowl 53 football game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL
Photo: Branden Camp

And even MORE lines:

 

4:30 p.m.: Still looking for Super Bowl tickets? So are Tom and Victoria Collins.

Tom Collins of Boston trying to get tickets to the game after 17-hour drive.
Photo: Matt Kempner/AJC

The Collins’ of Boston, who run a trolley tour company called Mobsters & Lobsters, made the 17-hour drive down from Boston to be at the Super Bowl. One minor issue: about two before the game, they were still trying to buy Super Bowl tickets for a price they could stomach. 

The couple said they had already borrowed money from their four-year-old son's piggy bank to help pay for the trip. "We love the Patriots," Tom Collins said. He was standing outside CNN Center hoping to get nosebleed tickets for $2,500 apiece, but he said, "we'll bite the bullet if we have to."

About two hours before kickoff, the average price of tickets was $6,160; the latest highest price was $12,68,8 and the latest lowest price was $4,439, according to the AJC’s Super Bowl Ticket Tracker. The tracker is updated every four minutes, in case you’re still in the hunt.

— Matt Kempner and Emily Merwin DiRico


4:15 p.m.: In related Super Bowl news, rapper 21 Savage was arrested by ICE early Sunday morning. 

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency claims the rapper is actually from the United Kingdom and overstayed his visa.

21 Savage performed in Atlanta as recently as Thursday in the Super Bowl Music Fest at State Farm Arena.

Read more about 21 Savage’s arrest and his connections to Atlanta here.

— J.D. Capelouto


3:59 p.m.: The Atlanta Streetcar, which was closed due to traffic for part of Saturday, was up and running as of about 3:30 pm Sunday.

The car hit a bit of traffic on Peachtree St., then was delayed by some brief technical difficulties, then more traffic around Centennial Olympic Park Boulevard, but it completed its loop in less than 40 minutes.

Debra Jones, a visitor from Montgomery, Alabama, was one of about 15 folks to catch a ride. She was killing time while waiting for a turkey leg to be cooked by a vendor near Centennial Olympic Park. Jones said she was surprised there weren’t more riders. “It’s a nice thing to have,” she said. “Maybe people just don’t know about it or have gotten caught up in the Super Bowl festivities.”

 Tyler Estep

 

3:20 p.m.: Streets worse than a typical Sunday says a driver from Atlanta who said she was stuck near Ivan Allen, not moving for about 10 minutes. But then it opened up. 

Another driver, Shay Reese, just came off the interstate and faced a bit of traffic near Centennial Olympic Park. "It hasn't been bad for us," she said.

Newlyweds Andrew and Cambrie Beishline drove in from their home in Woodstock, then parked their car in west Atlanta and hopped on their bikes for the rest of the way to downtown. "We made it here quicker than we would in a car, " she said, adding that navigating the crowds of pedestrians would be challenging.


MORE SUPER BOWL UPDATES | Super Bowl 2019 buzz, social reactions


But a little bit away the scene was quite different.

A group from out of town said that earlier today it took them only 10 or 15 minutes to come downtown from the Ponce City Market. "Where are all the people? " one woman in the group asked as they strolled near the World Of Coca-Cola, which is open but seeing few visitors three hours begore the game. The large crowds are only a block or two away.

It was also a different world at the Lindbergh Center station where only two MARTA cops patrolled for a handful of people, few with jerseys on.

It is quite enough to hear the birds chirping, a library compared to hundreds of cops mixed with the buskers and hawkers and partying fans a few miles away at the stadium.

-- Matt “Matty Ice” Kempner and Ben Brasch

3:15 p.m.: A frustrated street vendor selling Patriots gear near the stadium openly complained between hawking.

“These people don’t buy (expletive). They’ve won so many championships. They’re like Alabama in college,” he said, slumped over his card table of Pats merch stacked high.

- Ben “Born to be Mild” Brasch


 

3 p.m.: Living in the New York City suburbs, Michael Kennedy is used to taking a train. The 58-year-old Patriots fan took MARTA to get to the game Sunday.

“It’s far nicer,” he said of MARTA compared to the New York City subway system, noting it was much cleaner.

Wearing his Tom Brady jersey, he boarded at North Springs and said the train jammed by the time he got to Peachtree Center Station.

- Ben “Born to be Mild” Brasch


Keith Bell, of England, doesn't have long to live, but he's living his dream of seeing a Super Bowl in person.
Photo: Matt Kempner/AJC

2:45 p.m.: Keith Bell of Shrewsbury, England considers his first – and likely only – trip to see a Super Bowl as a bucket-list moment.

The 58-year-old retired training manager says he has been told he has less than 12 months left to live and treatment has stopped for his cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

That news screwed up plans to see next year’s Super Bowl in Miami.

“I heard I wouldn’t make it,” he said. 

So he and his wife Lorraine switched to this year’s game, which coincidentally features his favorite team, the Los Angeles Rams.

Bell was all brilliant smiles and laughing with strangers -- one a Patriots fan in a goat mask -- while in a line of hundreds of people waiting to get in the Super Bowl Experience fan attraction Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a bucket list item,” Bell said.

He has a word for his attraction to the kind of football more popular in the United States than in the United Kingdom. “Fanatical,” he said. 

For the last two seasons he’s watched every NFL game of every team. The couple is spending about 20,000 pounds sterling or, he says about $26,000, for the trip.

“We’re having a fantastic time,” he said.

-- Matt “Matty Ice” Kempner


 

2:30 p.m.: Several roads are closed near Mercedes-Benz Stadium downtown, and MARTA parking lots are filling up, the AJC reports. MARTA’s Hamilton E. Holmes and Inman Park lots were totally full by 2 p.m., police said.

-- J.D. “Road Worrier” Capelouto


Looks like a good place to film a TV series with zombies!

2:20 p.m.: The Gulch — the traditional tailgating spot for Falcons games and other events — is all but empty.

-- Tyler “Drop Step” Estep


Large crowds draw protesters.
Photo: Greg Bluestein

2:10 p.m.: What a scene: Outside CNN Center, more than a dozen demonstrators, clad in white save for a red splotch on their crotch, held signs aloft protesting circumcision. “Intact genitals are a human right,” one sign read. “Too late for me,” said one passerby. The sounds of the protesters were drowned out by a New Orleans jazz band playing “When the Saints” for the crowd.

-- Greg “Big Blue” Bluestein


2 p.m.: The Super Bowl attracts all kinds of people. Football fans for sure, but also street musicians and protesters.

-- Tyler “Drop Step” Estep


Some folks have to work, and carry semi-automatic weapons, on Super Bowl Sunday.
Photo: Matt Kempner/AJC

1:50 p.m.: There's a heavy law enforcement presence in downtown Atlanta for the Super Bowl, from uniformed officers on street corners to officers on rooftops scanning the crowds.

-- Matt “Matty Ice” Kempner



1:45 p.m.: MARTA trains are already packed. Even trains arriving just a minute apart are crammed with people. Fans clad in NFL gear trying to get above ground at the Peachtree Center Station have to wait a bit longer because crowds can’t breeze through the gates.

-- Ben “Born to be Mild” Brasch


1:40 p.m.: The roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be open when Gladys Knight sings the national anthem, the AJC reports. But the roof will close after the Air Force Thunderbirds flyover soon after. Temperatures are expected to drop into the low 50s during the game, but those lucky enough to be inside the stadium will not need a jacket.

-- George “Sacked” Mathis

Charlie offered no Super Bowl predictions.

1:30 p.m.: How big are Sunday’s early crowds for the Super Bowl in downtown Atlanta?

Big enough to help with training for therapy dog Charlie, a three-year-old Australian labradoodle.

“We are just trying to expose him to as many people as possible,” said trainer Jake Reger of Off Leash K9 Training, who regularly takes dogs around big crowds – from the Beltline to malls -- to acclimate them to keeping their cool.

-- Matt “Matty Ice” Kempner


Patriots fans gloat in front of a Super Bowl 51 sign in which their team beat the Atlanta Falcons.

1:15 p.m.: It might seem like only the rich make it in to watch the Super Bowl in person. But, in downtown Atlanta on Sunday there are exceptions.

Rodney Bennett, a logger who lives in “a little doublewide” trailer in eastern West Virginia, counts himself as one.

He drove in with his son and his future daughter-in-law and got them all tickets to the game. 

They set him back a total of more than $7,000.

He did better on hotel room, shelling out about $80 for a room more than an hour out in Commerce. Downtown parking downtown: $40.

“It’s what my boy wanted,” Bennett said. 

His son, a substitute teacher, is a big Patriots fan.

Jaime Reynoso knows the feeling. A military contractor from El Paso, he said he isn’t at all flush with cash. But he and his wife spent about $3,100 apiece for tickets to the game. 

“You got to save up,” he said.

-- Matt “Matty Ice” Kempner

Jaime Reynoso and his wife are going to the big game.
Photo: Matt Kempner/AJC

There's already a crowd at Dantanna's in CNN Center.

1:10 p.m.: More than five hours before game time, CNN Center was packed with revelers. There were already dozens of jersey-clad men waiting in line for the restroom.

Outside the sports bar Dantana’s, Randy and Rhonda Duvall enjoyed the beverages of their choice while decked out in Patriots gear.

They said Atlantans have been welcoming since their arrival from Cincinnati on Friday.

“They’ve actually been really nice,” Rhonda Duvall said.

The couple also said they haven’t had any transportation issues. They’ve been driving right in from their hotel near Stone Mountain.

“We’ve been driving in and parking,” Randy Duvall said. “It hasn’t been nearly as bad as the news was saying.”

-- Tyler “Drop Step” Estep


Bill Gardiner seems to be a Houston Texans fan.
Photo: Matt Kempner/AJC

1:05 p.m.: Plenty of people are not only soaking up the scene in downtown Atlanta, they are hoping to snag last-minute Super Bowl tickets for far less than what they’ve been going for lately.

Summer and Jeff Ameloot, who live in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, have been walking over throughout the week leading up to the game. And they were back again on Sunday morning pushing 3-year-old son Ford in a stroller.

“It’s been an exciting vibe down here all week,” Summer Ameloot said. 

They’ve spotted celebrities and players, and Ford apparently had a cameo on the Today show during a shot in Atlanta.

But Jeff Ameloot hadn’t given up on scoring tickets to the game, if only the prices would fall to maybe $1,800 apiece.

Bill Gardiner, dressed in Houston Texans regalia, will need prices to drop even lower. His family traveled from Houston to take in the festivities around the stadium and visit civil rights sites. He’s holding out hope for $1,000 tickets.

-- Matt “Matty Ice” Kempner 


12:45 p.m.: The fact that the hometown team isn’t in the game (and that Patriots fans were wandering around) didn’t stop one large group of Falcons fans from setting up their tailgate festivities a few blocks north of the Vine City MARTA station. 

Alonzo Steele and his crew were setting up by 6 a.m., spending a few thousand dollars to buy enough $200 parking spots to set up a bevy of tents, TVs, smokers and fryers.

They were expecting north of 100 people to indulge in a menu including wings, fish, collards, mac-n-cheese and more.

“If you’re a football fanatic, this is what you want to be a part of,” Steele said.

A friend who identified himself as M. James said there was no reason for them not to throw down like they do for every Falcons home game.

“The Falcons ain’t in it,” James said. “But that ain’t gonna stop us. We gotta put on for our city.”

-- Tyler “Drop Step” Estep 


New Orleans Saints fans show out in downtown Atlanta before the Super Bowl. Rodger Smith (left) and wife Napoli-Smith (second to left) and family have tickets to the game.
Photo: Matt Kempner/AJC

12:30 p.m.: Crowds were gradually growing in downtown Atlanta for Super Sunday.

But not everyone was wearing New England Patriots or Los Angeles Rams colors.

Like the family that broke out the colors of the New Orleans Saints, who blame a missed penalty call for the team not getting in the Big Game.

“We should be here,” said Tammy Napoli-Smith, a New Orleans native now living in Austin, Texas. “We are here representing. But that’s not a protest.”

The family bought Super Bowl tickets thinking the Saints would be in the game. Husband Rodger Smith said he’s been to about 23 Super Bowls and the scene in Atlanta is among the best he’s witnessed.

“The security is great. The people are great. It is set up well and organized well,” he said. “It is better because everything is close to downtown. There’s a police person on every corner, every stairwell.”

Said his wife, “Everybody is super friendly. More than I expected.”

-- Matt “Matty Ice” Kempner 


11:30 a.m.: Predicting the news can be challenging, but the final score of a football game? They let almost anyone do that. 

In sports, the final score is often determined by factors other than talent. Luck often plays a role, particularly in a sport where the ball is shaped more like Stewie Griffin’s head than a perfect sphere. 

Pro prognosticators in Las Vegas say the Patriots will win, but this writer (and most of America) prefers rooting for the underdog (and former UGA standout Todd Gurley). 

Yet, it would be unwise to bet against the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, who has so many Super Bowl rings if we threw him into Lake Lanier he’d sink. That might be an effective defensive scheme, actually. 

Not the popular pick, but I’m thinking he’ll have a sixth Super Bowl ring soon. Don’t forget he won his first Super Bowl exactly 17 years ago today as a rookie by defeating ... wait for it ... the Rams.

-- George “Sacked” Mathis


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