(AP) On football’s biggest day, they took time to remember a basketball legend.
The Chiefs and 49ers finished their warmups before the Super Bowl and lined up at their respective 24-yard lines — a tribute to Kobe Bryant, the five-time NBA champion who died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
Bryant wore No. 24 in his final 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
San Francisco’s Richard Sherman showed up for the Super Bowl in a Bryant jersey and appeared on Fox’s pregame show to read a poem called “Dear Football.” It largely copied “Dear Basketball,” the poem Bryant wrote in 2015 to announce that he was playing his final season.
Sherman ended his poem with “We love you, Kobe. We love you, Gianna. Love always, Richard.”
The Chiefs and 49ers both started the season in Florida, and now ended the season in Florida.
Kansas City opened with a Week 1 win at Jacksonville. San Francisco’s run to the Super Bowl started with a Week 1 win at Tampa Bay.
The Chiefs are headed back to Florida twice next season, with games at both Miami and Tampa Bay. The 49ers have three very long cross-country trips on next season’s schedule — at the New York Giants, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots — but no return appearances in Florida set for 2020.
Dates of the 2020 games won’t be known for a few more months.
Running back LeSean McCoy is inactive for the Kansas City Chiefs as they play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
The veteran joined the team earlier this season, but he fell out of favor down the stretch and was inactive for a series of late-season games. That leaves the Chiefs with only Damien Williams and sixth-round pick Darwin Thompson at the position.
The 49ers are dressing four running backs for the first time this postseason with Jeff Wilson Jr. active as insurance because Tevin Coleman is nursing a shoulder injury. Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida are the other two running backs.
Chad Henne is inactive for Kansas City, which means Matt Moore will back up quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The other inactives for the Chiefs are linebacker Darron Lee, cornerback Morris Claiborne and offensive linemen Ryan Hunter, Andrew Wylie and Jackson Barton. Wylie started earlier this season before an injury pushed him to the bench.
The inactive players for the 49ers are quarterback C.J. Beathard, receiver Dante Pettis, cornerback Dontae Johnson, tight end Daniel Helm, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, receiver Jordan Matthews and defensive lineman Kevin Givens.
Chiefs defensive line coach Brendan Daly has a tradition of running the stairs inside the stadium before games, and not even fans trickling into Hard Rock Stadium or the perplexed Super Bowl security staff was stopping him Sunday.
About 3-1/2 hours before kickoff, Daly emerged from the tunnel to dutifully get his exercise in.
Daly started the routine with Patriots assistants Chad O’Shea and Brian Flores — now coach of the Miami Dolphins — when the trio was in New England. And when they reached the Super Bowl each of the past two seasons, they continued to run the stairs before the game.
Daly left the Patriots after last season to join coach Andy Reid’s staff in Kansas City. The tradition continues with the Chiefs.
This is the 11th time that the Miami area has played host to the Super Bowl. The first five were at the now-demolished Orange Bowl in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, and the other six have been in Miami Gardens — inside the building now called Hard Rock Stadium.
Scroll through the list of Super Bowl sites, though, and it might seem like South Florida has a lot of stadiums.
It’s not true, but the confusion can be understandable. Each of the last five Super Bowls in Miami Gardens have been with the stadium bearing a different name: Joe Robbie Stadium in 1995, then Pro Player Stadium in 1999, Dolphin Stadium in 2007, Sun Life Stadium in 2010 and now, Hard Rock.
The stadium has had nine different names in all since opening in 1987. In addition to the five names that it had as a Super Bowl host, there was Pro Player Park, Dolphins Stadium (which immediately preceded Dolphin Stadium), Land Shark Stadium and, for a six-month stretch of 2016, it was called New Miami Stadium.
It was five years ago that the Royals brought home a championship to Kansas City, and now the players who were part of the 2015 World Series team are pulling for the Chiefs to deliver another parade.
“I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it,” longtime outfielder Alex Gordon said. “It’s like looking in a mirror from 2014 and 2015, the way they’ve gone about the playoffs, the way they compete together on the field, having fun, coming from behind in almost every game. It just reminds me what we went through.”
Left-hander Danny Duffy grew up a fan of the Broncos, one of the Chiefs’ bitter enemies. His uncles like them so Duffy just joined the crowd. But he’s gotten to know some of the Chiefs players and he’ll be rooting for them Sunday night.
“They carry the same passion we have for this city. It’s not really something you can articulate,” Duffy said. “If they win it’s going to be really cool to have a different view of how the parade is going to be. I barely got to soak in the parade. It was like, ‘Holy crud!’ Did I just say, ‘Crud’? It would be cool. I think they’re going to win, and I’ll be excited for the parade.”
Game day has arrived, and the caravans carrying the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs have pulled into Hard Rock Stadium.
Kickoff of Super Bowl 54 is 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
Weather for the NFL’s biggest game is expected to be perfect. There is a cloudless blue sky in Miami Gardens, Florida. Forecasters say it’ll be around 61 degrees at kickoff, cooling into the upper 50s as the night goes along.
That’s a few degrees below normal for Miami this time of year. But those conditions almost mirror what the weather was 10 years ago when the game was last played at the Miami Dolphins’ home field.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL