The matriarch of the Kansas City Chiefs will continue her streak of seeing every Super Bowl in person.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said Monday his 82-year-old mother, Norma Hunt, will make the trip to Tampa, Florida, to see Kansas City play the Buccaneers on Sunday. He added that she has been cautious all season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My mother’s very excited to be headed back to the Super Bowl,” said Clark Hunt, who serves as the face of the franchise’s ownership family. “Last year was a big one for her. It was her 54th but the first one she had been to in 50 years that the Chiefs were participating, so that was special.”
Norma Hunt was working as a schoolteacher and hostess for the Dallas Texans when she met Lamar Hunt in 1964, five years after he and other members of “The Foolish Club” founded the AFL. Hunt moved the Texans to Kansas City and renamed them the Chiefs and the upstart league eventually merged with the NFL.
Lamar Hunt, who died in 2006, also coined the term “Super Bowl” for the league’s championship game.
The Chiefs lost to the Packers in the first Super Bowl, then beat the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth one. That was their last Super Bowl appearance before last season, when the Chiefs rallied to beat the San Francisco 49ers.
NFL Honors, the annual primetime awards special that recognizes the league’s best players, performances and plays from the season, will be broadcast nationally the night before the Super Bowl.
The two-hour show airs Saturday on CBS with Emmy Award-winning entertainer Steve Harvey hosting for the third consecutive year. Grammy award-winning rock band Green Day will open the show, and Leslie Odom Jr. will perform during the in-memoriam segment.
The show includes the unveiling of the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year announcement and The Associated Press’ annual accolades that include the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and Comeback Player of the Year.
WHAT DO YOU MEME?
Leave it to Mom to get a big chuckle out of Rob Gronkowski.
Diane Gronkowski Walters recently sent her son — the Buccaneers star tight end — a meme that featured Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes sitting on Tom Brady’s shoulders like a baby. It was captioned: “Take Your Son to Work Day — Feb. 7.”
That, of course, is the date of the Super Bowl between the Chiefs and Buccaneers.
“It was just classic because Mahomes could really be Tom’s son,” Gronkowski said with a laugh. “Tom’s just such a legend and been doing it for so long, and their age difference is where (Mahomes) could be his son. So, that meme, that was a pretty good one that she sent.”
Mahomes, by the way, is 25. Meanwhile, Brady is 43. This is Mahomes’ second straight Super Bowl appearance, while this year marks the NFL-record 10th for Brady — and first with Tampa Bay after going with New England in the others.
During a day off Sunday, Gronkowski traveled down Interstate-75 for some mother-son time. He spent the night and returned to the team facility Monday in time for his question-and-answer session with reporters conducted via Zoom.
“I’m leaving her house this morning, and she’s got a whole bag packed full of drinks for me. She’s got a breakfast sandwich for me. She’s just still on top of her game. Just the impact that she has made on my life has been pretty incredible, and it’s just still going to this day,” Gronkowski said.
REFLECTIONS OF A PIRATE CHIEF
Kevin Ross spent the first 11 seasons of his 14-year NFL career in Kansas City, where the seventh-round draft pick made five playoff appearances, became a fan favorite and earned two trips to the Pro Bowl.
The standout cornerback never made it to the Super Bowl, though.
It took Ross joining Bruce Arians’ staff in Tampa Bay — he’s the team’s defensive backs coach — to finally make it to the final week of the playoffs.
“It’s unreal, really,” said Ross, whose name was added to the ring of honor inside Arrowhead Stadium in 2011. “To watch them last year winning, I was very happy for them, and now to play against them in the biggest game I’ve been involved with is special. I hate that someone has to lose.”
Ross has his hands full this week preparing for Mahomes, who dominated the Buccaneers for 462 yards passing and three touchdowns without an interception in their 27-24 loss in late November.
“If we had Mahomes back then,” Ross said of his playing days, “I’d probably have four rings at least. Our defense was very dominant back then, with a very solid running game. We just didn’t have the firepower they have at that position now.”
SUPER BOWL BETTING
A survey commissioned by a gambling site shows millions of adults are planning to wage legal bets on the Super Bowl, many of them for the first time.
The survey polled 1,000 adults in each of four key sports betting states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Michigan. One in three adults in New Jersey and Pennsylvania plan to bet on the NFL finale. One in four adults in Colorado and Michigan plan to bet on the game.
Sports betting is now regulated and taxed in 18 states. New Jersey and Pennsylvania were among the first states to regulate sports betting in 2018. Colorado and Michigan are two of the newest states to do so.
“The legal sports betting landscape in America is evolving and expanding so fast. It’s really exciting to be at a point where we can compare activity in mature markets with newer markets,” said Max Bichsel, vice president of U.S. business for Gambling.com.
AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell, Josh Dubow, Mark Long, Dave Skretta, Teresa Walker and Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.
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