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Saturday Sports: At the Super Bowl, both teams are in the running to make history

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Chiefs, Niners, Super Bowl 58, wings, ads, celebrities in the stands if their planes land in time. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Howard, thanks so much for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: The Kansas City Chiefs would be the first team in 19 years to repeat as Super Bowl champions if they win tomorrow. That would really cinch their legacy, wouldn't it?

BRYANT: Well, it would. They are the team to beat right now. It's sort of fascinating how quickly the Patriots have been supplanted by another dynasty. Normally it takes some time to have somebody else emerge. But this is Patrick Mahomes' time. This is the Kansas City Chiefs' time. They are the best team. They're going for their third Super Bowl - fourth Super Bowl appearance. And it's fascinating how good they are when they really weren't even that good this year. But what happens when you have the best player? You're dealing with not just Mahomes and the Chiefs, but Mahomes' aura. So beating him is very similar to beating these great quarterbacks. And he's just - he's - he is now being discussed already as not just the best quarterback in the game right now, but one of the best of all time.

SIMON: There's a great story going on with San Francisco, too. They haven't won the Super Bowl since 1995. Their quarterback, Brock Purdy, was the last player to be picked in the NFL draft two years ago.

BRYANT: And what is the nickname for those guys, Scott? Mr. Irrelevant.

SIMON: Oh, right.

BRYANT: In other words, that is how unlikely it is that you'll even get on a roster. If you're the last player picked in a draft, they make fun of you. They've always made fun of you because you have no chance of making the NFL. And here is Brock Purdy not just in his second year, but he's in the Super Bowl. He's a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl after being Mr. Irrelevant. And we talked about Tom Brady being that guy. And he was a sixth-round pick at a 199th pick in the draft. And that was improbable. So this is even more so.

The San Francisco 49ers really do feel like this is their moment. They lost to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl four years ago. They've been talking about that loss as motivation for getting back to this point. And from Kyle Shanahan, the coach, to Brock Purdy to the players, they really say that they need this moment. And when you have a team that really believes that that is something - that this championship is something that is legacy-defining, if we're going to use those terms, we're going to have a great game. Both teams have a lot to prove.

SIMON: And both coaches. Kyle Shanahan has never won a super Bowl. Andy Reid is going for his third one. But he was once kind of dismissed just a few years ago.

BRYANT: Exactly. Remember the Andy Reid in Philadelphia who couldn't win the big one, the Andy Reid that everyone said if they lose - if the Eagles lost, it was going to be because of him, the Andy Reid who didn't know how to manage a clock, the Andy Reid who was the loser? And now we're looking at Andy Reid going for a third Super Bowl. You're looking at him as a easy first ballot Hall of Famer. He's now one of the great coaches of all time.

And Kyle Shanahan is in a similar place that Andy Reid was in years ago. He was the offensive coordinator when the Falcons lost the 28-to-3 lead, legendarily, to the Patriots in overtime. He lost the Super Bowl four years ago. He lost the NFC Championship game to Philadelphia last year and then to the Rams a couple of years ago. If they lose, does it - do you blow up the 49ers? Absolutely not. But Kyle Shanahan has not been afraid to come out and say, look, after all these really near-misses, I need this win. I got to have this win. And as we all know in sports, it really does begin to multiply. The longer you go without winning, the more people think you're a loser. And especially in football, where that window closes, Kyle Shanahan will be on those sidelines knowing that these opportunities don't come that often. This is it.

SIMON: Howard, I know you don't want to give predictions, but let me put you on the spot. Will Taylor Swift make it in time for the kickoff?

BRYANT: She'll be there. Book it, man. She will be there. Trust me.

SIMON: Your words, Howard, I always trust them. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media, thanks so much for being with us.

BRYANT: Oh, my pleasure, Scott. I can't wait, when she misses her flight, when she doesn't get there, people say, you promised.

SIMON: But - misses her - it's not like she's going to be standing in a long line like the rest of us, is it?

BRYANT: Exactly. She's in Comfort Plus.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.