TheWrap’s Party Report will be updating throughout the weekend.
Hollywood stars and NFL icons unite this weekend at the countless parties and A-list events leading up to Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas.
Love him or hate him, the NFL’s biggest superstar Tom Brady was preparing to take to the field Sunday at NRG Stadium to face off against Matty “Ice” Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons’ threatening offense.
But while the Patriots and Falcons are tied up practicing, going over game tape and answering inane questions from the media, the rest of the football and entertainment worlds are enjoying the biggest and brashest parties of the year.
Radio Row was packed with media (Fox Sports, CBS, NFL Network, ESPN, Sirius, oh my!) and athletes from Monday onwards, with non-stop interviews, TV spots and even some sliming, courtesy of Nickelodeon’s Superstar Slime Showdown at Super Bowl.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (above) was one of the victims of the messy machine, with the help of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Sean McVay, the Ryan Gosling of NFL coaches, did the media rounds ahead of taking over the top job at the L.A. Rams, proving that he has what it takes to survive in Hollywood — as long as he scores more Ws than his predecessor, Jeff Fisher.
The after-dark festivities really kicked off with the EA Madden Bowl at Club Nomadic on Thursday. Country music singer Sam Hunt and Grammy-nominated DJ duo The Chainsmokers blew up the house, while current and former football stars showed off their (video) gaining skills in a brutal match-up.
Dallas Cowboys rookie sensation Dak Prescott destroyed the competition on the field this season, but how would he match up against Eric Berry from the Kansas City Chiefs in Madden? Not that well it turned out.
Under the expert commentary of ESPN’s Trey Wingo, the two went head-to-head in a heated game that ended like the NFL post season — with the Chiefs lasting longer than the Cowboys. Next up were odd couple Chad Ochocinco and 2 Chainz playing FIFA soccer, which was as crazy as you’d expect.
The entertainment was only just heating up as guests in the top two VIP levels snacked on Asian appetizers and delectable desserts. Country singer Sam Hunt and Grammy-nominated DJs The Chainsmokers (above) played full sets each, before Snoop Dogg came out and really put some bark into the joint.
After performing at the NHL All-Star game last year, hip-hop star and aspiring sports reporter Snoop Dogg closed the night in his smoking’ style at EA Madden.
Following New Era’s blowout party at Diplo last year, the sportswear brand threw a more private affair in Houston. Migos, rapper 2 Chainz and Lil Uzi Vert headlined the “Planet New Era” Super Bowl LI invite-only party at Vrsi, which was DJ’ed by DJ Ace (Trey Smith/Will Smith’s son) and hosted by Houston native and hip-hop artist Bun B.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (above) showed off his sweet new hat — after dropping a diss track about Fox Sports host Skip Bayless, maybe he’ll be hitting the DJ decks next year.
The real sporting star power for the weekend filled ESPN the Party’s cavernous 65,000 square foot warehouse located just outside of the Arts District in downtown Houston on Friday night.
NFL greats Adrian Peterson, Tim Tebow and Tedy Bruschi joined ESPN’s top talent like Chris Berman, Cari Champion, Jemele Hill and Sarah Spain in the construction-zone themed space, as Fergie entertained on stage for well over an hour, with producer and business mogul DJ Khaled manning over the decks.
A party full of football analysts was the ultimate crowd to quiz about Sunday’s game — and they were happy to offer their opinion.
“People made a big deal about Brady missing the first four weeks of the season but he always finds a way to win. I don’t doubt his ability or Bill Belichick’s ability to win the Super Bowl,” former Oakland Raiders star Charles Woodson told TheWrap. “I think it’s going to be a very high scoring game.”
With three Super Bowls with the Patriots under his belt and four years at ESPN, Tedy Bruschi is a verified expert on New England’s talents and tactics.
“It’s hard to report on them as, obviously, I want them to win, but I know the team well so I can also say how to beat them. I have to try and stay unbiased,” he said.
As for advice for players who have never been to the Super Bowl before, “I’d tell the new guys to pace themselves. It’s easy to go all-out and not have any gas left in the tank. It’s a long game and a long week,” Bruschi said.
“SportsCenter” host Cari Champion tried to get a dance party going on the red carpet at ESPN the Party, catching up with new “SC6” hosts Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, and making fun of former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb’s wrinkled shirt.
Champion — flawlessly dressed herself as always — also dished to TheWrap about her own future career aspirations. “We had a rapper come on the show this week — I rapped with him, they filmed it and played it on air. I’m thinking of quitting ESPN and becoming ‘MC Squared,'” she said.
Don’t panic “SportsCenter” fans, Champion isn’t going anywhere, but keep an eye out on YouTube for her dropping a rap track one day!
Saturday in Houston was a revolving door of party invites from super agent Leigh Steinberg’s annual party, the 26th anniversary of Taste of the NFL and the Wheels Up Wheels Up Super Saturday Tailgate in the daylight hours to DirecTV, Maxim, Playboy, Bootsy Bellows and Rolling Stone keeping partiers entertained until 2 a.m.
At the Arts District on Washington Ave, the Wheels Up Super Saturday Tailgate was a veritable who’s who in sports as famous users of the membership-based private jet company gathered to listen to country star Jake Owen.
Hosts Rich Eisen, Mike Goldberg and Mike Golic gave their predictions of the Super Bowl matchup from the stage in an entertaining back and forth between sports media’s most-compelling voices.
Later Houston Texans defensive end and local favorite J.J. Watt delighted kids in the crowd by throwing signed footballs and taking selfies with all those who asked.
As Owen fired up a typical Texas country party, guests feasted on a crawfish broil, noodles, BBQ and even Mexican Fiesta coffee cocktails. Everyone in attendance left with bags of Wheels Up gear, and many were spotted for the rest of the weekend wearing the cozy hoodies as temperatures in Houston dropped.
The hottest ticket in town on Saturday night was undoubtedly DirecTV NOW Super Saturday at Club Nomadic as Taylor Swift performed in her “one show of 2017” (as far as she knows).
“What I’m trying to tell you is, by coming here tonight, you’re essentially attending 100 percent of my tour dates for the year, so thank you!” Swift told the 9,000 guests at the exclusive event.
The 27-year-old singer definitely made the most of her time on stage, performing her current “Fifty Shades Darker” hit, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” “Love Story,” “You Belong With Me” and “Style” with such energy that even corporate non-Swifties were freaking out in the audience.