After every Super Bowl, all eyes are on Chad Steele.
Well, not on him exactly, but on the guy standing right next to him.
Steele, a 6-foot-7 former college basketball player, is vice president of public relations for the Baltimore Ravens. He also works the Super Bowl each year — the NFL brings in a collection of media relations workers from every franchise — and his job is escorting the most prominent player from the winning team to the giant podium erected on the field for the Lombardi Trophy presentation, and then to the locker room.
So that’s him standing right beside Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson or Ray Lewis. He leads them from interview to frantic interview on the field, and sometimes needs to grab on to the player’s jersey to navigate the crush of reporters and photographers.
So Steele felt completely at home Monday amid the sea of humanity at Opening Night, where thousands of reporters interviewed members of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers on the field at Marlins Park.
“The crush is unbelievable,” he said of the post-Super Bowl madness. “There are just so many people and so many directions that you’re getting pulled in. Luckily, I’m 250 pounds, so that helps. But you get moved around. I remember with Peyton, we were walking and somebody grabbed me. I turned around for a second to say, ‘OK, I’ll try to get him to you.’ I turned back around and there were 20 people in between us. I had to fight to get through just to get back to him.”
Steele, 44, will have a list of media obligations for the player, starting with a postgame interview with the network covering the game — Fox on Sunday — and also acts as a screener to handle impromptu requests.
“There will be outside things, ‘The Today Show’ or something will say, ‘Hey, can we get him for a second?’ ” he said. “And I’ll ask the player, ‘Do you want to do it?’ Then we’ll go from there.”
Steele, the brother of ESPN host Sage Steele, takes a ribbing from friends, including players, about showing up on TV so much. After escorting Brady off the field last year at the Super Bowl, his phone blew up — about 450 texts that took him months to answer.
“We tease him about it all the time,” said Chiefs linebacker Terrell Suggs, who got to know Steele with the Ravens. “But what we say about him, you can’t print that. We always give Chad a hard time. He’s a good sport about it too. He’s beloved. Ray Lewis even mentioned him in his Hall of Fame speech.”
Steele, who typically stands with the sideline reporter during the Super Bowl game, said this is a dream assignment.
“It’s the coolest thing,” he said. “If you told 15-year-old Chad, ‘This is what you’re going to be doing,’ he’d never believe it. I’m at the epicenter of the biggest thing on the planet. How lucky am I to be in that position? And then it’s kind of terrifying, like, ‘I hope I don’t screw this up, because they’re depending on me.’ ”
Calling Dr. ElAttrache
Dr. Neal ElAttrache isn’t at the Super Bowl this year, but the game wouldn’t be the same without his work.
Besides being team doctor for the Rams and Dodgers, he’s the most prominent surgeon in sports with a seemingly endless list of patients that includes NFL stars Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Cooper Kupp — each had his shredded knee rebuilt by ElAttrache — as well as Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) and Aaron Rodgers (clavicle).
ElAttrache was particularly close to Kobe Bryant, at various times repairing the knee, rotator cuff and ruptured Achilles tendon of the Lakers star, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash.
In a text message, ElAttrache wrote: “Kobe taught me so much. It was an honor to be a part of his life. Not so much because he is one of the greatest athletes to ever compete, but because of the way he approached life. I watched him fight through injuries over the years that threatened to shorten his career with confidence, diligence and optimism. I admired that he fully embraced his craft, that he was dedicated to excellence and the hard work and self-sacrifice necessary to achieve it.
“Even though he was a private person, he was self-aware enough to know that he could use his fame to set an example, teach and inspire us to work through obstacles in achieving our greatest potential. This was to be an even greater second act in an amazing life. He really wanted to give back and help others. I’m lucky to have known him. It’s terribly sad that time was so short.”
Fab Female Four
Fox Sports will feature the “Fab Four” — four iconic female owners of NFL teams — in a patriotic segment that will air just before the national anthem in the Super Bowl LIV pregame show.
The piece was shot last week and features Norma Hunt of the Chiefs, Virginia Halas McCaskey of the Chicago Bears, Martha Ford of the Detroit Lions, and Patricia Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Last year, those four were the subject of the NFL Films documentary “A Lifetime of Sundays.”
“The goal of the film was to share the impactful stories of these four women, because so few people had heard them,” said Jane Skinner Goodell, co-executive producer of the documentary and wife of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“Now the audience on Super Bowl Sunday will have the opportunity to meet this incredible quartet. I know they’re all honored to take part.”
Separately, Fox News has finalized a deal to stream the film on Fox Nation, the network’s subscription service. It will also air a few times on Fox Business.