“I’m super excited to represent Long Beach Poly and USC — and just Los Angeles,” Smith-Schuster said. “I’ll be repping in the Super Bowl.”
Smith-Schuster, 26, played five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before signing a one-year, incentive-laden $10.75-million contract with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs subsequently traded speedy Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, and signed receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, giving All-Pro quarterback Patrick Mahomes an almost entirely new receiving corps to go along with star tight end Travis Kelce.
Smith-Schuster caught 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns.
“Great personality, so we like that addition that way,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Tuesday. “But he also complements Kelce.
“He has that ability to feel in space, openings, and Patrick trusts that. He’s sure-handed, he’s great after the catch, tough to bring down and he’s smart. He picked all this stuff up and he did it well. Got the confidence of the quarterback. That takes a lot.”
Mahomes indicated that Smith-Schuster’s value goes beyond his ability to run physical routes.
“The biggest thing is the joy he brings into the building every single day,” Mahomes said, “and the work ethic.”
Smith-Schuster began his NFL career with the Steelers, who selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft .
In his second season, Smith-Schuster caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns, and was voted to the Pro Bowl.
In 2020, Smith-Schuster had 97 catches, nine for touchdowns. But last season, Smith-Schuster caught 15 passes in five games before he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
So this season was a chance to show the Chiefs — and 31 other teams — that he could still produce.
“He’s one of those guys where you just want to be around him,” Valdes-Scantling said. “He’s always in a good mood. He brings a great energy to the team, and he’s a dawg on the football field.”
Kelce said Smith-Schuster made an impression during training camp. Though he was new to the team, he implored teammates to take a few extra reps.
“Like, ‘Hey man, I know we’re dog tired and coaches are giving us a break here, but why don’t we push through some of these extra reps,’ ” Kelce said about Smith-Schuster. “That kind of stuff goes a long way. It shows guys your dedication, your devotion and how hard you want this, and JuJu has shown nothing but that since he’s been here.”
The transition to a new team, Smith-Schuster said, was eased by the way he was welcomed by teammates. The time they have spent together on and off the field has forged a strong bond and an unselfish mindset.
“You have so many crazy players on the field and there’s one football and everyone wants to win,” he said. “I will get two catches in the Super Bowl and with a W, and I’ll be happy, so … just the chemistry that we all have together, we’re all in it for one reason.”
Smith-Schuster said he is reminded of the magnitude of Sunday’s game every time he studies his playbook and sees the Super Bowl LVII logo.
“I’ve been chasing a Super Bowl ring for the past six years,” he said. “I’m actually here, and it’s unbelievable.”
The Chargers are nearly three decades removed from their lone Super Bowl appearance, which came after the 1994 season.
But the franchise has a strong connection to Super Bowl LVII in Nick Sirianni, the Eagles coach who spent five seasons with the Chargers and met one of his mentors during that time.
Sirianni on Tuesday identified his father, Fran, and his college coach at Mt. Union, Larry Kehres, as two of the three most influential people in his career. The other: Frank Reich.
He and Reich were together for three years with the Chargers before Reich left in 2018 to become the head coach in Indianapolis and hired Sirianni to be his offensive coordinator.
“I try to help the coaches here who could be head coaches one day the way Frank helped me,” Sirianni said. “Frank was very deliberate in helping me. That’s one of the reasons I think I was ready to be in this position.”
When Sirianni took over the Eagles last year, the team started 2-5 before rallying to make the playoffs. During that stretch, he said he recalled how the 2018 Colts opened 1-5 before turning things around and advancing to the postseason.
“I remember Frank that year talking about doubling down on the things you know are important,” Sirianni said. “He might have said it a little differently, but that’s how I said it. I preached the same idea.”
Philadelphia is 21-6 in the regular season since that 2-5 start and now stands a win away from being Super Bowl champions in Sirianni’s second season.
Ticket prices: Inflation-plus
The get-in ticket price for Super Bowl LVII is more than twice as expensive as when the Super Bowl was last in Arizona eight years ago.
According to Gametime, the lowest-priced Super Bowl tickets on the secondary market Tuesday were $5,623 each, down from $6,248 over the weekend. The cost of the most expensive tickets, however, continues to climb, priced from $24,855 each, up from $20,871 on Sunday.
In 2015, when the New England Patriots played the Seattle Seahawks at the site of Sunday’s game, the lowest-priced tickets cost $2,800. Seven years before that, when the New York Giants stunned the previously undefeated Patriots, the first Super Bowl in Glendale, the lowest-priced tickets on the secondary market were $700.
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