So much of it looked familiar — from the heartfelt rendering of the national anthem, to the silvery, star-studded halftime show, to Tom Brady standing there at the end with a mile-wide smile, awash in confetti.
So much of it looked strange — from the masked-up coaches on the sideline, to the cardboard cutouts in the half-empty stands, to Brady — what? — wearing pewter-and-red pants and a helmet with a Buccaneer, not a Patriot, on the side.
History was made, just as it always is, on a picture-perfect Sunday evening at the Super Bowl. Brady and his new team, Tampa Bay, sliced and diced their way to a 31-9 thumping of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to help the NFL put the final exclamation mark on a season that many thought could never happen.
But this kind of history? Brady adding to his record with a seventh Super Bowl title, but with the long-suffering Bucs, not the front-running New England Patriots? And with 7,500 of the most precious tickets in sports given to health-care workers — the world’s unsung heroes — who mingled in with those cardboard cutouts, and only a few thousand live, hard-core fans?