Super Bowl week has started. Hours before local Opening Night ceremonies, the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams took questions from the media on Monday, offering their thoughts on the big game and much more.
Joey B. Joe Shiesty. Joe Brrr. Joey Franchise. Jackpot Joey. Joe Cool. Joe Chill. Smokin' Joe. The Tiger King.
The meteoric rise of Joe Burrow has been met with a plethora of nicknames. Asked which is his favorite, the Bengals QB just laughed.
"Just call me Joe," Burrow said Monday during Super Bowl LVI Opening Night. "Whatever anybody wants to call me is OK with me."
The revelations didn't end there. Rookie wideout Ja'Marr Chase said he practices the Griddy dance three times a week, while running back Joe Mixon said Chase does it better than anyone on the Bengals. When told kicker Evan McPherson would hit the Griddy if Cincy beats the Rams in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, Chase replied: "I'm dead."
It wasn't all fun and games. Burrow, who wasn't the biggest recruit coming out of high school and transferred from Ohio State to LSU after mostly sitting for three seasons in Columbus, offered sage advice for young players.
"Focus on getting better," he said. "Don't have a workout and then go and post it on Instagram the next day and then sit on your butt for four days, and everybody thinks you're working hard but you're really not. Work in silence. Don't show everybody what you're doing. Let your game on Friday nights and Saturday nights and Sunday nights show all the hard work you put in. Don't worry about all that social media."
That approach clearly worked for Chase, who is in the midst of a historic first season. His 1,455 receiving yards in the regular season were a rookie record in the Super Bowl era. He's added 20 receptions for 279 yards and a touchdown in three playoff games, leading the Bengals in each category. It follows a notorious display in the preseason, which saw the LSU product struggle to create separation and catch passes. He's done nothing but those two things for the past five months. It didn't take long for Chase to change the narrative -- he tallied 101 yards and a TD in Week 1 -- and he said he didn't spend much time thinking about it in the first place.
"I knew what I could do already," Chase said. "Not much proving that I needed to do. I'm not really worried about too much. As long as I play my game, make sure no one is trying to take me out and distract me. That's my main focus, make sure I'm doing my job."
When it comes to kicking in the Super Bowl, no one has done a better job than Adam Vinatieri. Not only did he make two SB game-winners but he scored in six of them. McPherson has been doing a strong Vinatieri rendition this postseason, connecting on walk-off field goals in the past two rounds.
"I think that's every kid's dream -- to kick the game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl," the rookie said. "He's done a lot for me, even not knowing me, for my career. Just to see somebody else make those kicks gives you the confidence to make them."
Only a select few cornerbacks could claim to be the best cornerback in the NFL and not face immediate pushback. The Rams' Jalen Ramsey made an even bolder claim Monday:
"I believe I'm the best corner -- excuse me, I believe I'm the best defensive back in the NFL. So I always try to prove myself right and prove others right throughout my whole career."
The proof is in the hardware. Ramsey has made five consecutive Pro Bowl nods and earned three first-team All-Pro selections, including two in a row. No other DB currently holds those distinctions.
Odell Beckham had a surprise visitor during his media session: best friend Jarvis Landry. The Browns wideout told his former teammate he loved him and said "go get the ring." Beckham put himself in that position by signing with the Rams over the Saints and Patriots, among others, upon becoming a free agent midway through the season.
"Besides Pops, there's no other person who made me a better man," Beckham told Landry. "I love you so much. This moment is for us."
Beckham added that if a movie was made of these Rams, he would be played by Will Smith and Matthew Stafford by Ben Affleck.
Von Miller also joined Los Angeles in a midseason acquisition. His experience thus far has reminded him of when an older DeMarcus Ware signed with the Broncos and instantly served as a veteran leader while the team embarked on a Super Bowl run. "I came later in my career, Leonard Floyd or Aaron Donald, they would be me. I was in the prime of my (career), and I just came to help put in any way that I could, on and off the football field. That's my role. I'm the DeMarcus on this team."
In two short years, Burrow has earned the respect of the football world, helping turn around a previously moribund franchise into a winner. That reverence even extends to his opposition Sunday. As Beckham said, "If you look up cool in the dictionary, there's a picture of him in Cartier shades. This guys is smooth ... and then getting to meet him, championship time, going back and just kicking it with, you cant help but like this guy. He's going to be one of the greats, I feel like. I truly believe that."
Ramsey added: "He seems like a guy that just plays with a lot of swag and a lot of heart and he wants it, and that's something you definitely can't measure ... and being the franchise quarterback of a team, you could see it as definitely contagious to his teammates. They take on that persona, as well. That's kind of just the way that they play."
Monday's Super Bowl week festivities also featured the Bengals hosting a monster pep rally for 30,000 fans inside of Paul Brown Stadium. Burrow and Mixon were among those who spoke to the fired-up crowd, but it was tight end C.J. Uzomah who had the privilege of closing the show with one of the night's most thrilling highlights.
Armed with a mic in-hand, Uzomah stepped up on the stage sporting a large brace around the left leg he injured against the Chiefs in the AFC title game. The veteran then reached down to unfasten the brace, rip it off his leg and toss it behind him onto the field, much to the delight of the Bengals faithful. What followed was a rousing farewell speech fitting for a Super Bowl sendoff.
"Man, we love you all," said Uzomah, who is pushing to play Sunday. "I mean, this is amazing, right now, this is amazing, all you guys coming out. We appreciate you, we wouldn't be here right now without the support of you all here in 'The Jungle,' travelling to wherever the heck we are and wherever we're playing. And, right now, we get to bring the 'Nasty 'Nati' to L.A. and they're not ready, I'll tell you right now. It's been us from the start of this season. It's only been about us. It doesn't matter who we play, it's been about us, we are them dogs, aight? We've been giving out game balls around the city but, next week, we're bringing the game ball and it's going to be a party the entire week, baby, let's go! It is us, 'Who Dey.'"
The Rams brought the hype with an Opening Night pep rally of their own, held at Oaks Christian High School in Thousands Oaks, California.
The smaller-scale, invite-only celebration saw left tackle Andrew Whitworth deliver a special message to his teammates and Rams supporters about the team's chemistry and the bond they forged on the road to Super Bowl LVI.
"I think one of the things that makes this team so special and makes our organization special is it's built on culture, it's built on a belief in each other," Whitworth began. "I do a lot of things in the community and I think that's really important but it's at the basis of everything we do as a team. It's creating an atmosphere where people want to be loved, they want to be cared about, they want to be supported and they want to know that the person beside 'em believes in 'em and they're the kind of person they want to walk in a room with. And I stand up here with a bunch of men, I'll walk into any room and take on any challenge with."
The night also featured a special appearance by legendary Rams receiver Torry Holt, who was a rookie when the club last won a Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 1999 season. Holt, a former All-Pro and multi-time Pro Bowler during his 10 seasons with the Rams, urged the fans and city of L.A. to show up and show out for Sunday's epic showdown.
Tune into NFL Network at 8 p.m. E.T. for full coverage of Super Bowl Opening Night.