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Friday, February 23, 2024

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Inside the Chiefs’ Winning Locker Room at Super Bowl LVIII

Travis Kelce emerged from the double doors at 8:39 p.m. PST, nearly an hour after Patrick Mahomes connected with Mecole Hardman Jr. to give the Kansas City Chiefs back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

Kelce noticed NFL Network reporter and former star wideout Steve Smith Sr. The two hugged before Kelce hopped on the back of the cart to head over to the interview podium and discuss his thrilling 25–22 overtime victory against the San Francisco 49ers.

Kelce finished Sunday night with 92 yards and nine receptions.

Erick Rasco/Sports Illustrated

For a few seconds, I was worried that would be all I got to witness outside of the Chiefs’ locker room. My access was denied at first. The league had fancy machines throughout Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas to scan reporters’ credentials to make sure they had access to the press box, field level and the locker rooms. The screen flashed red and the security guard was on the verge to tell me to leave, but I eventually got the green light on my second attempt.

After the scare, I got to witness the party that took place in the Chiefs’ locker room. Well, technically it was the Las Vegas Raiders’ locker room. (Both Raiders coach Antonio Pierce, and owner Mark Davis, walked by while I was waiting, and I’m sure they were not happy about their AFC West rivals celebrating in their locker room.)

I guess you can say I saw plenty outside of the double doors, but it doesn’t compare to what I witnessed in the locker room after the Chiefs rallied for one of the greatest Super Bowl wins in NFL history.

Here are timestamps of what I noticed while the Chiefs’ locker room was open to reporters. 

8:42 p.m.: Reporters were allowed inside the locker room

The cigars immediately hit our nostrils while our ears heard Future’s “PUFFIN ON ZOOTIEZ” blasting from the speakers. Not long after, Chiefs players groaned as the music briefly stopped. The music, of course, eventually returned.

8:48 p.m.: Jawaan Taylor soaks in the moment

The Chiefs’ right tackle had a giant smile from his locker while he watched his teammates celebrate. “I can’t believe it. I’m so happy,” Taylor told me.

8:50 p.m.: Mahomes returns to the locker room

Mahomes finished his podium interview and appeared in the locker room holding a WWE championship belt. He posed for pictures with several of his teammates in front of the giant “Super Bowl champions” sign.

8:52 p.m.: Jerick McKinnon waits for his drinks to kick in

McKinnon gave me a memorable quote when I asked how he’s currently feeling: “Ask me that when I get that liquor in my system.”

8:58 p.m.: Kelce returns to provide music

The Chiefs’ star tight end returned to the locker room as his teammates sang along to “Walking on a Dream” by Empire of the Sun. Kelce was handed a cigar, but seconds later the music stopped again. He told his teammates to wait for the music to return before popping his bottle. But Kelce decided to provide his own music, shouting “na, na, na … hey, hey, goodbye.”

After the first sing along with teammates, Kelce said, “Play my s—.” Eventually he stopped waiting and popped open the champagne bottle to spray his teammates and the media. Kelce then led another sing along. This time it was
“We Are the Champions” by Queen.

9:04 p.m.: MVS has message for the haters

Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling told me he knew Hardman was going to score once he saw the receiver go in motion and noticed the 49ers playing man defense. “It was going to be 100 percent a touchdown.”

Hardman says he “blacked out” while making the game-winning catch.

Erick Rasco/Sports Illustrated

I then asked Valdes-Scantling if he had a message for those who criticized the Chiefs’ wide receivers throughout the season. “F— ’em. Simple as that.”

9:09 p.m.: Punter Tommy Townsend praises Harrison Butker and Kelce

Townsend had plenty to say when I caught up with him in the locker room after his photo shoot with teammates.

“It’s pure chaos,” Townsend says about winning another Super Bowl. “There’s no other way that you can describe it. It’s pure f—ing chaos. I don’t if I can say that, but back-to-back Super Bowls. I’ve been to three Super Bowls in my four years in Kansas City and it’s just unheard of. I don’t think people can argue it’s not a dynasty anymore. You can’t argue it. Consistently we come back in big games, make plays at the right moment and win big games and get in the right position to go deep in the playoffs every year. I can go on a rant about this for an hour. These guys are insane.”

Townsend on Harrison Butker’s 57-yard field goal to set a Super Bowl record: “I hope that stands for a long f—ing time. I hope it stands for a really long time. I’m so pumped for these guys.”

Townsend on Kelce being the best tight end of all time: “Easily, easily. At this point you can’t even compare. Just so versatile. And at the end of the day, everything on the field aside, he’s the best dude, he’s the best dude. Since Day 1 when I came to Kansas City, he’s been a friend to me. Made me feel welcome. Travis Kelce is all class all the way around.”

9:12 p.m.: Isiah Pacheco’s request

Pacheco, who was draped in a Puerto Rico flag, wanted special photos taken of him, but he had one request: “Get me in my locker room.”

9:16 p.m.: Leaving Chiefs’ locker room

Chiefs coach Andy Reid rolled by in a cart to join his players and his coaches for the party in the locker room.

[Buy now! Relive Super Bowl LVIII with Sports Illustrated’s commemorative issue]

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