MIAMI — They call this the Magic City.
It was all of that for Kansas City and long-suffering Chiefs fans on Sunday night.
It was that for the catapulting superstardom of quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
It was all of that for discarded Dolphin Damien Williams, a redeemed hero in his former stadium.
It surely was for the NFL, too — for football, a sport so often made to apologize and to defend itself over safety issues.
And it was magical for Miami itself, which also won the night as host of its record 11th Super Bowl, this one crowning the league’s 100th season as more than 100 million viewers watched.
For all but San Francisco and 49ers fans it was an epic, historic night at Hard Rock Stadium as the Chiefs rallied to win 31-20 in the 54th Super Bowl, on the grandest stage in American sports, on a cool night (well, at least for Miami).
Magical? It was the third straight game this postseason that Mahomes and K.C. have rallied from double-digit deficits, this time overcoming a 20-10 second half hole — with the former Dolphin Williams scoring the winning points on a 5-yard pass from Mahomes with 2:26 left. He added a 38-yard touchdown run with 1:12 let to make the final score more lopsided than the game was.
Kansas City had been the slight betting favorite to win but was a bigger sentimental favorite. The Chiefs had not been in or won a Super Bowl since 1969, a half century ago. Man had just landed on the moon. Many were rooting for Chiefs coach Andy Reid, too, as he had coached more postseason games than any coach who had not win a Super Bowl.
Heck, it was former Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt who even coined the phrase “Super Bowl.” His kids loved the toy of the day, a high bouncing “Super Ball.” It gave Hunt an idea. “I have called it the Super Bowl,” Hunt told then-commissioner Pete Rozelle, “which can obviously be improved upon.”
(How times have changed. Tickets were $6 face value to the first-ever Super Bowl on Jan. 15, 1967, and scalpers were out of luck. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was nearly half empty. Now? Tickets start at $1,000 (if you get lucky and win a lottery to get one) and demand is such it would have taken $5,000-plus to score one on the secondary market on Sunday).
Of course the game’s prevailing storyline coming in was the expected coronation of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He was league MVP last year at age 23. A Super Bowl ring now at 24 crowns him as the greatest QB today and the new face of the NFL.
San Francisco sought to make history of its own Sunday, trying to collect a record-tying sixth Super Bowl championship and first since 1994, back when O.J. Simpson in a white Ford Bronco.
The 49ers would alsohave become the first team since the 1999 St. Louis Rams to play in and win a Super Bowl after winning four or fewer games the year before — offering hope to the downtrodden everywhere. (Even the Dolphins, perhaps?).
Along with the Chiefs, ultimately, the host city shone on its signature stage.
Starpower was as great off the field as on it.
Jennifer Lopez (J.Lo) and Shakira spun a blockbuster, sexy halftime show that ended with fireworks, after pregame entertainment by Miami music icons Pitbull and DJ Khaled.
Celebs watching included Jay-Z and Beyonce, Cardi B, Axl Rose, David Beckham, Kevin Hart, Rick Ross, Kanye West, Marc Anthony, Pat Riley, Floyd Mayweather, Paul McCartney and of course Alex Rodriguez, who is engaged to J.Lo.
Hype videos by The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, introduced both teams and sent decibels from the packed crowd skying to ear-numbing levels.
The night all the emotional notes, too, with a poignant pregame celebration of the 100 greatest players and coaches of the league’s first century, including a touching wave to the crowd of Dolphins icon Don Shula, now 90 years old.
But Shula wasn’t even the oldest guy on the field. The NFL had four 100-year-old World War II veterans as honorary captains for the pregamed coin flip.
“Time for Miami to do what we do best,” said Heat icon Dwyane Wade in a pregame video promoting the host city.
What Miami does best is to keep replenishing and growing its reputation as a big-event town, especially in sports.
Start with Super Bowls. More than one in five of all of them have been hosted by Miami. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cited the comfort level with the city’s experience in making a massive undertaking run smoothly as a main reason the league keeps coming back.
“We’ve done this before,” as Miami Super Bowl Host Committee chairman Rodney Barreto put it.
But it can never easily be said this or any Super Bowl was the biggest sports event ever held in Miami — at least not to South Florida fans.
Two of the Miami Heat’s three NBA championships were won on the home court. The Marlins’ first World Series win in 1997 culminated at home. Three of the Hurricanes’ five national football championships came in the Orange Bowl game.
But Sunday’s spectacle surely joined the pantheon of the very biggest events ever staged in South Florida.
Sunday was just another and the latest night to give the country a reason to turn its eyes to Miami, and for Miami — like Patrick Mahomes, Damien Williams and the Chiefs — to rise up and live up to the grand occasion.