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.

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In addition to the various NFL stars in attendance, fans were treated to a variety of entertaining sights throughout the night. 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.’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’s Vaughn McClure.

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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.”

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.

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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’s DJ Bean.


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