Return to Transcripts main page


Tampa Bay Prepares For Super Bowl LV; Raymond James Stadium In Tampa To Allow Only 25,000 Spectators For Super Bowl LV Due To Coronavirus Pandemic; National Football League Criticized For Lack Of Diversity In Ownership And Head Coaches; NFL's Challenges In Holding Season During Coronavirus Pandemic Examined; Tampa Bay Buccaneers Linebacker Shaquil Barrett Interviewed On Life During Coronavirus Pandemic. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 6, 2021 - 14:30   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The greatest of all time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't look up to guys like Tom Brady, you're crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Against the greatest right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's one of the best athletes in the world. He can do it all. Just incredibly impressed by him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Brady set to take the field in his record 10th Super Bowl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're all different. It would just be cool to accomplish it this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Standing in his way of title number seven, Patrick Mahomes and the defending champs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm focused on this game right now. I'm trying to win this second Super Bowl and be able to hold that Lombardy Trophy and have that second ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fitting after a year when many of us stayed at home, Brady and the Bucs will be the first to play at home in the Super Bowl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have to travel, don't have to pack my clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's mindboggling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brady, Mahomes, Super Bowl LV. Will we see the passing of the torch? Or will Brady once again reign supreme?

This is "Kickoff in Tampa Bay, A CNN Bleacher Report Special."


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: If that doesn't get you pumped up for the game, I don't know what will. Welcome to our CNN studio in Atlanta. I'm Andy Scholes.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Coy Wire, live in Tampa, the site of Super Bowl LV. We've covered a lot of Super Bowls, Andy. This is unlike any other.

SCHOLES: Coy, normally the teams get to the host city by Monday, spend all week practicing there, meeting with the media. Not the case this year. These are live pictures right now of the Chiefs getting set to leave a very snowy Kansas City.

WIRE: And the Bucs of course are already here, the first team to ever play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, making history in large part because of their new QB, the greatest of all time, Tom Brady, who we'll talk a lot about. But first, CNN's Randi Kaye is here in Tampa as well. Hello, Randi. What are you hearing from fans ahead of the big game?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, guys, fans are super excited about the big game, and so is Florida's governor. Months ago he said he wanted a full Super Bowl. He's not going to get a full stadium, but plenty of fans are already here, 20,000 to 30,000 fans coming through Tampa international every day, including 200 private jets, all here to see a Super Bowl like no other.


KAYE: The only thing normal about Super Bowl LV will be the football played on the field. Instead of 65,000 fans filling Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, just 25,000 will be there. That includes 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who were surprised with free tickets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is champion Rob Gronkowski. And we want you there inside Raymond James Stadium cheering us on.

KAYE: Fans at the stadium will be given PPE kits which include KN95 masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes.

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: We want our fans to be safe. They need to be smart. They need to wear their PPE. They need to be gathering in small groups.

KAYE: Because of the need to social distance, a lot of usual Super Bowl events will look very different this year. The NFL pregame tailgate party is limited to just those 7,500 vaccinated health care workers. The taste of the NFL has gone virtual, and here at the always popular Super Bowl experience, you have to make a reservation. Autograph signings here are virtual, and so is the chance to race your favorite player. ROB HIGGINS, NFL HOST COMMITTEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TAMPA BAY SPORTS

COMMITTEE: We want to make sure people have great memories that will last a lifetime, but that they happen in a really healthy and safe fashion.

KAYE: Tampa fans are thrilled to have the big game in their backyard.

AL CENTEIO, BUCCANEERS FAN: We all need it. This is what's keeping us distracted from other problems. And it being in our hometown, you can't beat that.

KAYE: The city of Tampa is giving out more than 150,000 masks free of charge. They are mandated in Tampa's event zones and entertainment districts.

How do you feel about being here with all that's going on with the pandemic? You have your son here with you.

Everything has been spectacular, safety precautions, social distancing. It's awesome.

KAYE: Officials are discouraging big Super Bowl watch parties. Skip the bars too, they say, and stay home.

Where are you guys going to watch the game?



KAYE (on camera): And officials here are really serious about that mask mandate. We're here at the NFL Experience, a part of it. And they keep announcing every few minutes you have to wear a mask unless you can safely social distance, or you're drinking or eating. And if you're caught not wearing a mask in one of those entertainment areas or anywhere near that stadium, you could pay a fine up to $500. Coy, Andy, back to you.

SCHOLES: All right, Randi, thanks for that report. Hope all the fans there are following the rules.

This seen wasn't just challenging because of the pandemic. Many players' minds, they were on what was going on off the field.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We at the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the National Football League wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the National Football League believe black lives matter. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter.


SCHOLES: Many of the league's stars coming together, demanding justice just days after the death of George Floyd, continuing to fight for racial equality.

And joining us now is two-time Super Bowl champion, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. Malcolm, in that video that we just showed, the players called out the league and Roger Goodell to do more. I want to ask you, how do you think the NFL is doing when it comes to addressing social justice right now?

MALCOLM JENKINS, TWO-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: I think what you have to understand is a lot of the work that we see being done is being done by the players. It started as a player driven kind of movement, and it still is a player driven movement. We've seen players activate around issues surrounding black women, around voter registration, around police accountability, and a plethora of things.

And we've seen the league pivot from its messaging and branding that it's had in the past three seasons to now joining the fold when it comes to the messaging. But I think the biggest thing, and everybody wants to see the NFL change from a cultural standpoint, and not just in their word.

We want to see it in their deed. And we just passed another cycle where the coaches changed around the league, the head coaches and GMs, the decisionmakers. And we all know if you want to change a culture, you start from the top down.

And again, we have no black coaches being hired. And so we have to basically wait a whole other calendar year to really see that change. And I think if the NFL is serious about changing the culture itself, that's where they have to start, is putting minority coaches, black coaches, in these decision-making positions. We have the players, we have assistant coaches, but there are still way too small a number of black coaches.

WIRE: Let's dig deeper into that, Malcolm. The Bucs have the most diverse coaching staff in the league. All their coordinators are black. They have two female coaches. The league as a whole, though, different story. As you mentioned, just one black head coach was hired for 2021. Why?

JENKINS: Well, again, I would point to the diversity of the decisionmakers. When you have an issue with diversity, you don't look to the group. You look to those who have the power to put those people in place. And there is no diversity in our ownership. And there's very little diversity in our GMs and very little diversity in our head coaching. And so if you really want to start making changes that can last,

that's where you start. And when you're talking about a league that's 70 percent black and being able to -- address issues, that's going to have to come from people that don't look like the ownership of the NFL. And there are more than capable guys out there.

SCHOLES: We'll see if the NFL does any better come the 2022 coaching hires. Thanks, Malcolm, we'll definitely talk more with you about the big game shortly.

But first, we want to speak a little bit more about the developing story with Chiefs linebacker coach Britt Reid. Police in Kansas City say Reid, the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, was involved in a multivehicle crash near Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night that sent two children to the hospital. Reid told one officer he had consumed two to three alcoholic drinks.

Reid has not been charged with a crime at this point. Police say a five-year-old remains a critical condition. A four-year-old child was also injured in that crash. The Chiefs in a statement said they're aware of the incident and their prayers are with everyone involved. Britt Reid will not be with the team in Tampa.

It's been an amazing accomplishment to get through this season. Coming up, I'll talk to CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta about how the NFL made it happen.

WIRE: And we've got the best Super Bowl QB matchup ever, Brady versus Mahomes. Brady has his new hometown fans in Tampa behind him, but how do Patriots fans feel, like our very own CNN NEW DAY anchor and super fan John Berman?


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So one day, I will be able to tell my grandchildren what it was like to watch Tom Brady play. And I'll be able to tell them as we're watching him play in the Super Bowl live, like in three decades, because that's how long he's going to play and play well. I've never seen anything like it.

And I think I speak on behalf of all New England fans. He gave us everything, more than we could have asked for. So now we are here for him. As far as I'm concerned, Tampa Bay is just some New England neighborhood south of Attleboro. So on behalf of New England fans, let me say, go Tom Brady, go Bucs.





WIRE: You thought he was done? You thought he packed up his bags and went to Florida for an early retirement? Please. This is just the second act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bucs win, Bucs win. Tom Brady, you're the real deal. Tampa Bay is heading to the Super Bowl.

WIRE: Tom Brady is 43-years-old, playing in his tenth Super Bowl, his third in his 40s. That's as many as Aaron Rodgers, Dan Marino, and Drew Brees in their entire careers combined. New team. Who cares? No off season to prepare? Doesn't matter. No Belichick, no problem. All he does is win.


WIRE: Regular season, playoffs. He holds the records for all of it. Sure, he's not the same quarterback he was back in 2002 when he made his first Super Bowl appearance. But neither is Patrick Mahomes. He was only six years old back then, six.

Soak this in. Tom Brady is making history once again, writing his story once again on the grandest stage of them all. And if he wins a seventh title, that would be more than any franchise in NFL history. No debate needed -- Tom Brady is the greatest ever.


WIRE: I played against Tom Brady nine years in my NFL career. I've been in journalism for nine years since then. Brady is still going at the highest level, Andy.


SCHOLES: Yes, Coy. They say father time is undefeated. He hasn't beaten Brady yet. Oh, man.

Two-time Super Bowl champ safety Malcolm Jenkins is back with us. Malcolm, Brady has always said he wants to play until 45 years old. This week he actually said he would consider playing past that. Malcolm, could you imagine playing in the NFL at 46 years old?

JENKINS: I just turned 33, I couldn't even imagine playing until 40, let alone 45, 46. It's unheard of. Just think about it from a body standpoint. I'm not even interested in playing that long. But hats off to him.

WIRE: Let's talk about what makes these quarterbacks so great. I remember Brady seeming to know our defense as well as we knew it ourselves. You played against both quarterbacks, Malcolm. Tell viewers just how tough it is to go against these guys.

JENKINS: Tom Brady, the key to his entire game is just about efficiency. Not an overcomplicated scheme. It's actually very simple. But what he does is he's going to know what you're in as a defense every time, whether he's going to identify it by formation or just know what you're in by your look. And he's just going to go to whoever has the best matchup. You've got Mike Evans, Godwin, Gronk, A.B., he can pick whoever he wants on any given down. And he's just about staying ahead of the stakes and staying on time. Pat Mahomes, he's got skill positions, he's got speed everywhere, play

calling and play design is amazing. And at the end of the day Pat Mahomes is just better than anybody. His ability to scramble and extend a play and get off schedule just really makes it tough when you're trying to keep up with all the skill positions. That's why they've been having so much success over the last few years.

SCHOLES: It certainly is going to be one exciting quarterback matchup to watch, probably the best ever we've seen at a Super Bowl. Malcolm, thanks for joining us, one of the few people who can say they have beaten Tom Brady in a Super Bowl.

Coy, that amazing quarterback matchup, the Bucs playing at home and the limited capacity making this one of the most expensive Super Bowl tickets ever. Right now, the cheapest ticket to get into the stadium going for about $5,000. But Coy, you were one of the lucky ones who is going to get to be inside.

WIRE: Yes indeed. I know you're a little bit jealous, Andy. We went one on one, though, with one of the guys who will be playing on the field. Coming up, Bucs star linebacker Shaq Barrett on the challenging season both on and off the field.


WIRE: Commissioner Roger Goodell says there were some anxious days over the course of this season. But with strict COVID protocols and discipline by the players, here we are, just over 24 hours away from kickoff of Super Bowl LV in Tampa.

SCHOLES: Coy, this certainly was a challenging year for everyone in sports, especially football. Many didn't think a contact sport could happen during a pandemic. And CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us now. Sanjay, thanks for being with us. Many said it couldn't be done. How impressed are you that the NFL was able to play the entire season without canceling a game?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's impressive. I think there's no question about it. If you look at where the country was when they first started the season September 10th, 6 million people roughly in the country at that point were confirmed to have the infection. And now you look where we're ending, and around the country, 26 million. So the cases clearly have exploded in the country, but the NFL itself, they had a 0.08 percent positivity rate. That's one of the lowest of any organization in the country.

One stat really stuck out to me, and I don't know if you realized this, but there was never any team-to-team transmission, out on the field. One team has it, the idea that they were transferring, transmitting to another team, that did not happen. So they really did an incredible job of learning, testing, contact tracing, all that stuff, and then modifying as they went along.

SCHOLES: Sanjay, I know you're a big football fan, a proud Michigan alum, just like Tom Brady. How optimistic are you that come August football is going to be able to get back to normal with stadiums packed with fans?

GUPTA: I am optimistic. I think things are going to change, kind of like we still take off our shoes when we go to the airport because of 9/11. My kids don't even know why we do that necessarily. I think there is going to be these sorts of behavioral changes.

As long as something wildly different doesn't emerge, I am optimistic. I would like to do a game with you, Andy. I'd love to sit there with you at a game, full stands, full ambience, and really enjoy ourselves.

SCHOLES: Sanjay, I certainly would love it. Coy, maybe we'll get an extra ticket and you come, too.

WIRE: Normalcy would feel so good. And Sanjay at a tailgate, yes, sir, I'm in.

This season, you mentioned was a huge challenge for the league. What about the players? One of Tampa's star defenders, we go one-on-one with him to talk about what it took making it to the greatest stage in American sports amid a pandemic. That's coming up.




JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is hard, against my very DNA to root for any football team other than my beloved New England Patriots. Yes, I'm old school. And it is hard, very hard to watch the greatest quarterback in NFL history play for any other team. But this Sunday, the King family roots for the GOAT, Tom Brady. And we also root for his friend, Gronk. And because of that we root for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I wish Tom Brady had remained a Patriot from beginning to end, but as he plays in his 10th Super Bowl, 10th Super Bowl, we root for him because he shared the previous nine with those of us who live in Patriot nation. Six of those were Super Bowl wins. And as you can see right there, they have brought a lot of joy and a lot of smiles over the years to the fans that matter most to me.

One reminder to Chiefs fans. Don't get too giddy if you get an early lead. Tom Brady is the GOAT because those six wins include -- sorry, Atlanta -- the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. So this Sunday, go Brady, go Bucs.


WIRE: As a former Atlanta Falcons player, too soon, John King, too soon!

SCHOLES: That was a great game. The focus tomorrow has been all on Brady and Mahomes, Coy. But you know what they say -- defense wins championships.

WIRE: Yes. And I caught up with Bucs defensive star Shaq Barrett.


SHAQUIL BARRETT, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS LINEBACKER: My kids are home schooled now, which was beneficial for them, but sucks because they don't get to see friends. They don't really get to leave their homes too often. And my wife just really stay in the house with the kids all day.

She don't go see our family, don't go see our friends or anything. And that's just like the biggest thing, my wife and kids, four of them, being cooped up in the house all day, or getting to go outside for a little bit, but it's still interaction with the same people over and over and over again.

WIRE: You moved around a lot as a kid growing up in Baltimore, starved yourself at times to make weight to play ball. What does it mean to you to be able to provide a different lifestyle to your kids now?

BARRETT: It means everything to me. That's my fuel and my motivation. I want to give them a stable home, secure home. I don't want them to worry about where we will sleep at next to something like that, or any other worries I had to worry about growing up. All they need to worry about is what game they're going to play, what cartoon they will watch, something like that. I just want to let them be kids for as long as possible.

WIRE: You've came a long way, going undrafted out of college, struggling to find playing time with the Broncos at first, to leading the NFL in sacks and playing a prominent role with another Super Bowl team.


How much more satisfying is this success after knowing all it took for you to get in?

BARRETT: Oh, it's so much more satisfying. And just to me, even to see like where I was four years ago, five years ago to where I'm at now, I am just like blessed, like I'm blessed, like that's what it is because it just so happened to work out perfectly for me, ended up in a nice situation. And the timing was perfect and everything just worked out like divinely.


WIRE: It's going to be a great game, Andy, indeed.

SCHOLES: Yes, Coy. I hope we'll be getting an epic shootout, everyone. Enjoy the game.