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Fans Gathering At Home And In Bars Watch Chiefs Go Down In Defeat

All eyes were on the quarterbacks in Sunday’s Super Bowl LV: Patrick Mahomes, 25, for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Tom Brady, 43, in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after two decades with the New England Patriots.

For Mahomes, it was a chance to win back-to-back championships, a feat not accomplished since 2003 and 2004. But for Brady, it would mark a record 10 Super Bowls and seven wins — including Sunday.

The final score: 31 to 9.

The game was played against the backdrop of a deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 460,000 Americans. While new COVID-19 cases are on the decline in the metro area, health officials this week warned that Super Bowl watch parties could turn into superspreader events without proper mask-wearing or physical distancing.

In Kansas City, bitterly cold temperatures — only a high of 14 degrees — kept most Chiefs fans inside to watch the game.

The Centers for Disease Control's Super Bowl advice: celebrate at home with the people who live with you.

Kansas City, Missouri, residents Scot and Megan Sperry did just that.

Last year, the couple packed their house hosting their annual Super Bowl party for friends and neighbors, and Scot got up at 5 a.m. to smoke a “crowd sized brisket.” But this year he didn’t set his alarm since it’s “smoked brisket for two,” he told KCUR.

Video-communication services, such as Zoom and Google Meet, provided another way to connect.

Restaurants were doing a brisk business, with lots of carryout orders.

Outside J’s Fish & Chicken Market at 54th and Prospect, DoorDash driver Jessica Whitby said she had delivered "a lot of chicken, a lot of pizza" and beer.

"You make great money," she said about working on a Super Bowl Sunday. "You get to see a lot of interesting things and you get to show off your driving skills because the snow is definitely crazy, very slippery."

But with varying restrictions across the metro, and bars and restaurants allowing mask removal when eating and drinking, mask-wearing did not seem to be the norm.

At Rock & Brews in the Prairiefire development in Overland Park, just after kickoff about 40 people were sitting at tables eating and drinking. At the bar a chair between parties was designed to encourage distancing.

The Chiefs' return to the Super Bowl this year, said Tom Skram of Overland Park, provided a glimmer of hope during challenging times, and "(it) kind of returns it to normalcy a little bit."

Kenzie Callevig of Louisburg, Kansas, said she was grateful there was an NFL season at all, since it was something to look forward to each Sunday.

"And it’s just nice knowing that every Sunday, they’re taking precautions and they’re able to play," Callevig said.

Gloria Fines, a retired letter carrier, stopped by Paradise Bar & Grill in Belton, Missouri. Cass County does not follow a mask mandate, so most people, including Fines, were not wearing them.

"I try to be responsible, my mask is in my purse, but I've not been sick and I know that I'm okay," she said. "Just to come out and mingle with people and not be afraid."

There's no scheduled Super Bowl parade, like last year, through downtown Kansas City, Missouri. With the support of the Chiefs, the city, the Kansas City Health Department and the Kansas City Sports Commission announced in January that a public celebration would not take place due to the pandemic.

“While we all wish we could celebrate a Super Bowl win down Grand Boulevard again with hundreds of thousands of fans," Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a news release, "it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to put our players’ and fans’ safety at risk by hosting an in-person celebration.

“We are still fighting a pandemic that has already taken nearly 2,000 lives in our region alone, and our top priority will continue to be keeping our region safe."

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3 /
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Paul Kamps, 65, waited for pizza at Joe’s Pizza in Westport.
Carlos Moreno / KCUR 89.3
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KCUR 89.3
Paul Kamps, 65, waited for pizza at Joe’s Pizza in Westport.
Derrin Williams leaves J’s Fish & Chicken with an armload of chicken wings for a small family Super Bowl party on Sunday.
Carlos Moreno / KCUR 89.3
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KCUR 89.3
Derrin Williams leaves J’s Fish & Chicken with an armload of chicken wings for a small family Super Bowl party on Sunday.
At Rock & Brews in the Prairie Fire development in Overland Park, Kansas.
Jodi Fortino / KCUR 89.3
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KCUR 89.3
At Rock & Brews in the Prairie Fire development in Overland Park, Kansas.
Friends from Grandview and Belton cheered on the Chiefs at the Paradise Bar & Grill in Belton.
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Friends from Grandview and Belton cheered on the Chiefs at the Paradise Bar & Grill in Belton.

Laura Spencer caught the radio bug more than a decade ago when she was asked to read a newscast on the air on her first day volunteering for KOOP, the community radio station in Austin, Texas.
Jodi Fortino
Carlos Moreno
Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and in 1988, went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.