Super Bowl week commenced Monday night in Houston as members of the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots spoke to the media at Minute Maid Park.
It's the second year the NFL has held a Super Bowl Opening Night event in lieu of the traditional media days from seasons past. Fans could purchase tickets, with field-level seats carrying a $30 price tag, according to the Houston Chronicle's David Barron.
In addition to the various NFL stars in attendance, fans were treated to a variety of entertaining sights throughout the night.
With Opening Night in his home park, Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers used the occasion to snap a photo with Biles:
Cooper Manning, working for Fox Sports 1, was among the contenders for best-dressed attendee. The Denver Post's Nicki Jhabvala shared a photo of his unique outfit:
With the NFL relaxing the standards required to obtain media credentials for Opening Night, players received questions from some unlikely sources. According to ESPN.com's Arash Markazi, Kel Mitchell provided on-scene reporting for Nickelodeon while in character as Ed from the movie Good Burger:
NESN.com's Doug Kyed ran into PFT Commenter, who joked Brady may go to extreme lengths to ensure the Patriots win their fifth Super Bowl:
NFL on ESPN stumbled onto this odd scene:
Reporters may not want to emulate Jimmy Kimmel Live's Guillermo Rodriguez, who substituted a microphone with a turkey leg. ESPN's Josina Anderson shared Guillermo's interaction with Falcons center Alex Mack:
While the mood remained light, the focus inevitably shifted to the Super Bowl itself.
Perhaps wanting to gain an early psychological edge, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn rebuffed Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's attempted hug, via CBSSports.com's Will Brinson:
Brady got emotional when asked about his father, via Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald:
No coach was in higher demand than Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He interviewed for the San Francisco 49ers' head coaching vacancy over the weekend, and CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reported Shanahan had a hand in the 49ers' decision to hire John Lynch as their general manager.
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported Shanahan avoided directly answering whether he's leaving the Falcons but added that "it's clear he's going to SF."
Shanahan did, however, offer an endorsement of Lynch, per USA Today's Tom Pelissero: "I really believe in people, and if anyone knows John Lynch, that's a guy you should believe in."
The Super Bowl is a new experience for many Falcons players, including starting quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan said he sought advice from both Manning brothers in preparation for Sunday's game, according to ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure.
Peyton Manning provided pointers on the buildup to the Super Bowl, while Eli Manning helped with how to approach the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
"I've gotten to know Eli throughout the years, and he's a great guy," Ryan said of his conversation with the New York Giants passer, per Newsday's Tom Rock. "His advice was: 'You guys know yourselves, and you know what you do.' At the end of the day, I think that's probably the best advice you can get, to trust what we do and trust our process, who we are and how we do things."
Ryan crossed paths with Brady on the Opening Night stage, and they hugged, which the NFL shared on Twitter:
The two spoke highly of each other, according to FoxSports.com's Cameron DaSilva. Ryan said he has learned from the example Brady's set in New England, while Brady said he's admired Ryan's ability going back to his days with the Boston College Eagles.
On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, which has impacted the world of sports. The NBA announced Saturday it had sought clarification from the State Department regarding players from one of the seven countries listed in the order.
Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is the only player of Muslim faith on the Falcons or Patriots, according to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. He was born in New Jersey after his mother moved to the United States from Sierra Leone.
Sanu said he didn't want to speak about Trump's legislation, per Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt: "Very tough situation. It's really hard for me to talk about that right now. I'm not here to talk about my religious beliefs. I'm here to focus on football."
Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett said he'd engage in his own form of protest toward the Trump administration should the Patriots win the Super Bowl. Bennett told reporters he'd decline the traditional invitation afforded to the Super Bowl champions, according to CSNNE.com's DJ Bean.
Super Bowl festivities will continue in Houston throughout the week leading up to Sunday's game, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET.