SportsPulse: We take you inside the press conference room to hear what Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski had to say after winning Super Bowl LIII.
ATLANTA — Reporters waiting for Tom Brady at his locker after the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 Sunday night in Super Bowl LIII should have a new appreciation for the sneaky 41-year-old quarterback.
Brady returned to his locker and packed his duffel bag before he even took off his uniform. Then the Patriots’ quarterback lugged that duffel bag into the shower area.
And after Patriots owner Robert Kraft made the rounds passing out victory cigars, Brady was gone.
“He came by holding the trophy,’’ a security guard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium who declined to identify himself near the Patriots’ team buses told USA TODAY Sports.
Rob Gronkowski, by contrast, was swarmed by media as he limped out of the Patriots’ locker room and grabbed a boxed meal. And so it was time to review exactly how Brady made his postgame escape.
Within a few minutes after arriving in the locker room, Brady stood in front of his locker, lifted his right index finger into the air and wrapped his left arm around a smiling man. It was Alex Guerrero, his personal trainer.
Other than teammates and friends, Brady indicated he wanted space. And then he went to work, quickly clearing his locker and stuffing items into a duffel bag. One of the first things to go into the bag: a small statue of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god in Hinduism.
Or the Remover of Obstacles, as Ganesha is also known, and once again Brady had overcome obstacles — throwing an interception on his first pass of the game yet finishing 21 of 35 passing for 262 yards and setting up the Patriots’ lone touchdown with a sweet, 29-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski. And then inside the locker room, the distractions began.
The Patriots carrying an oversized retro boombox — Bumpboxx — that blasted hip-hop.
Patrick Chung, the Patriots’ strong safety who broke his right arm in the second half, yelping in pain while a team staffer helped him get dressed.
‘STILL HERE’: Brady still gives the Patriots something no one else can
MOVE OVER, CHARLES HALEY: Brady sets record for most Super Bowl wins
4th & MONDAY: Our NFL newsletter always brings the blitz
Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, passing out victory cigars and chatting with safety Devin and cornerback Jason McCourty, the first two identical twins to play in the Super Bowl.
And suddenly, Brady’s locker looked very, very empty.
Two uneaten sandwich halves in Saran wrap.
A black Sharpie — but no Brady around to sign autographs. And no Brady to answer questions (though he had done a group interview from a podium earlier).
Hustling to the buses got one in position to see Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his girlfriend, Linda Holliday, and then Gronkowski. But it was way too late to catch the 41-year-old quarterback who was sacked only once Sunday night.
“I was told by team security not to let anybody pass through,’’ the stadium security guard said.
The truth is, matched up against the NFL’s likely G.O.A.T., reporters had no chance.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Josh Peter on Twitter @joshlpeter11.
If you love talking football, we have the perfect spot for you. Join our new Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders.