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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles Prepare for Super Bowl; Interview with J.J. Watt; Jim Kelly Discusses Battling Cancer. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 3, 2018 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks for being with me today. See you again tomorrow. More newsroom at the top of the hour.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the special coverage of Super Bowl LII from frigid Minneapolis. I'm Dave Briggs alongside Super Bowl XL Hines Ward, former Falcons and Bills team captain Coy Wire, Bleacher Report lead NFL writer Mike Freeman. Temperatures are in the double zero digits, it feels below zero, but the game is inside. So fellows, what do you say we bring in it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Super Bowl LII in the bold north, diehard Philly fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not going to lose this game.

BRIGGS: And the Patriots are back yet again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go pats!

BRIGGS: The 40-year-old legend going for a sixth Lombardi trophy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not thinking of retirement. I am thinking about the Super Bowl and trying to win the most important game of the year.

BRIGGS: Against the backup quarterback who almost quit the game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I think about this journey and everything I get home, and I --

BRIGGS: A Hall of Famer who knows the magnitude of the moment.

JIM KELLY, FORMER BUFFALO BILLS QUARTERBACK: Those are the things that even put chills on my body now because those are the days that you will never forget win or lose.

BRIGGS: But now serves a higher purpose, all of that ahead plus NFL superstar J.J. Watt who joins us to talk Houston recovery and his own.

Kickoff in Minnesota, a CNN Bleacher Report special.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: All right, welcome inside of our slightly warmer CNN studios. The rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX just over 24 hours away. And when it comes down to the experience factor, that is all on the Patriots' side. They have a combined 60 games of Super Bowl experience, Hines. Tom Brady has been to seven. That's as many as the entire Eagles' team. How big is the experience on the big stage?

HINES WARD, TWO-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: Well, Dave, the experience factor for the Super Bowl is overrated in my opinion. In 2005 we didn't have any Super Bowl experience. We had a second-year quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, we ended up winning the Super Bowl with a second year quarterback.

But then on the flipside in 2011 we had a lot of guys who played in the Super Bowl where we ended up facing the young Green Bay Packers team who went out there to beat our butts. So the experience factor is way overrated.

COY WIRE, NINE-YEAR NFL VETERAN: Hines, I've got to tell you, though, as a former defensive guy, I think this is all going to come down to defense. I got to spend time with Eli Manning, the Patriot slayer, two times he beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I said how did you do it. And he said it wasn't me. It was my defense. You have got to get after Tom Brady especially late in the game if you want to have a chance.

BRIGGS: And you've got to do it for four quarters. You can't do it for three like Atlanta and Jacksonville.

MIKE FREEMAN, BLEACHER REPORT NFL NATIONAL LEAD WRITER: As the lone casually dressed person here on the panel, I want to talk about the casual Rob Gronkowski. Very few teams have been able to stop him. And I don't think the Eagles are going to be able to stop him either. I look for him to be the MVP of this game. He's that good.

BRIGGS: By the way, we are wearing jackets for warmth, not style, my friend. It is not cold over here.

I will tell you what, Sunday night might feel like Groundhog Day for these Patriots fans, the first franchise to ever play in 10 Super Bowls. But for Philly it's a different case. They are zero for two in the big game. They are not taking this moment for granted. They are a passionate and gritty fan base.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: E-a-g-l-e-s -- Eagles!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no Philadelphia Eagle fan lite. It does not exist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you New England, you can't cheat with honor. You are the Lance Armstrongs of the NFL.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not rude. We are just passionate. We love our team. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eagles' fans are die-hard. Badass, blue collar,

hardworking guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to have heart in this town, because without heart you won't make it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a little edge, and people don't like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously there have been some incidents over the years, we all know that. But that happens in every town. It is way overblown here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me tell you if I hear another national sports guy talk about Santa Claus and snowballs, I am driving up there.

MARC FARZETTA, RADIO HOST: We threw snowballs at one of the most innocent American culture two generation as ago. Howard Cosell pulls it on national television and forever we are the worst fans forever.

AL MORAGANTI, RADIO HOST: Your profile is what you are. You have entered the airport profile when you are a Philadelphia sports phan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The attitude is us against the world, Philly versus everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are under assault as Philadelphia Eagles' fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody likes the Eagles except for everybody in Philly, and we love them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am shaking right now just thinking about it, and they are going right to Minnesota and kick the crap out of the Patriots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really do think there is a positive attitude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Negative Philadelphia fans, no, they are not negative. They haven't won a Super Bowl, that is the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most Eagles fans always have hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: H-o-p-e in bold letters underscore with three exclamation points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they feel that the hope is now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Eagles are going to roll all over them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to lose this game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is almost a guaranteed win. So you heard it here first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go Eagles, baby, all day. We are going all of the way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Nick Foles slayed the top ranked defense in the league, 352 yards, three scores against the top ranked unit in the league in the NFC championship. But still, Mike, everybody is making this out to be David versus Goliath at quarterback. Is it?

FREEMAN: It sort of is. It is Tom Brady versus Nick Foles. I keep waiting for Nick Foles to turn back into the pumpkin, and he has not yet. He keeps playing great, keeps playing well, but you are going up against Tom Brady. Tom Brady beats up everybody just about.

BRIGGS: These Minnesota fans, and some of them whom you see behind me are not just cold. Some of them are a bit bitter after that Vikings' loss last week, and that is why they want the Patriots to win. Twitter data shows that outside of New England there's only one state, oddly, North Dakota, that is pulling for the Patriots. I think it is that fatigue. In part, Hines, this is because of scandal, spy-gate, deflate-gate. But it's also a product of greatness. What is it about the patriots the fans can't see?

WARD: Well, I talked to my former teammate James Harrison who joined the Patriots. He did tell me one thing that this is probably the most prepared team that he has ever been on. So it is no wonder why the Patriots are always in Super Bowl contention year in and year out.

BRIGGS: That is the word. Now I covered this word as a local reporter for many years, and what struck me every day wasn't just the genius of Bill Belichick but it was the maniacal preparation of Tom Brady. And we are actually getting a glimpse of that this post-season through the Facebook doc "Tom Versus Time."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: Being mentally tough is putting all of that bull -- aside, everything that's happened, all that noise, all the hype, and just focusing on what you have got to do. It is no excuses. It's no whining, no complaining. It is like, look, did you win or did you lose?

When I see myself out there, I feel like, man, I still, I do this and I do it better than I have ever done it, and so why should I stop? Why does everybody want me to retire so bad? I don't get it. I am having fun. I know that I am a little bit older than the other guys, but I am really enjoying it. So I am not thinking about retirement. I'm thinking about the Super Bowl and trying to win the most important game of the year, and it is going to take a lot to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Ooh, I got the goose bumps right there, we just got a glimpse inside of the mind of the greatest quarterback of all time. He is no physical freak, but he will outwork you and he will sacrifice more than anybody. That is what made him great.

WARD: And the one thing that you are really, that I'm impressed with Tom Brady, he is still plays with a chip on his shoulder. I don't know what it is, self-motivation or whatever you want to call it, year in and year out, this guy plays with the chip on the shoulder.

FREEMAN: He embraces that chip, he embraces the hate, they all do. That whole organization loves the fact that everyone hates them and picks against them, and they feel like it is a big conspiracy, and they feed off of it, and he is the key for them.

BRIGGS: Mike Freeman from the Bleacher Report, you are out of here. Thanks for being here. You two, stick around.

Coming up, we're going to talk to J.J. Watt. The three-time defensive player of the year tells us who he thinks wins this game and why. Plus, Andy Scholes with what makes Minnesota such a unique Super Bowl host city.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Whomever wins Sunday likely comes down to who gets after the quarterback best. Arguably nobody does that better than the Texans' J.J. Watt, the only player in NFL history to record two 20-plus sack seasons.

All right, welcome back to Minnesota. We are here with three-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt on behalf of the fine folks of Gatorade. J.J. thanks for being here, we appreciate it.

J.J. WATT, HOUSTON TEXANS DEFENSIVE END: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Tom Brady, you faced him earlier this year and he had a decent day with 378 and five scores, sorry to bring that back up. I know that's a bit of an open wound.

WATT: Wow. I wish I had something on you to bring up, like did you have is a bad date at some point that you could bring up? That one hurt. That hurt.

BRIGGS: Do the Eagles have the personnel to stop Tom Brady, does anyone?

WATT: Well, there is obviously not many people that do. When you have five Super Bowl rings, you do a lot of things right. But the Eagles defense is strong, and the ability to make the Super Bowl proves that they can do anything. And once you get to a game like anything can happen, so we'll see. But there is a reason Tom Brady is the greatest of all time.

BRIGGS: And let's talk about your season cut short again from an injury, brutal, break your leg. How is the recovery?

WATT: It is coming well. It's obviously a long progress. It's a gruesome injury and it's a long process, but it is coming along very well. It is just one day at a time, an opportunity every day to get a little bit better and looking forward to it next year.

WIRE: For Hines and I as former players it kind of jumped out big star athletes who had the season ended. WATT: It was a brutal year for the league. And obviously I have now

explanation for it, but I do know that the comeback player of the year trophy next year is going to be one of the most fiercest contested of all all time. So it is going to be a great battle.

BRIGGS: The terrific irony is you probably had more impact on the city of Houston this year playing just five games than you possibly could have had playing 16. That's of course because you helped raise a staggering $37 million for hurricane Harvey relief. Your goal was $200,000.

WATT: Yes.

BRIGGS: Fans see that massive number, you probably see personal stories. What makes that amount of money hit home for you, and that devastation that you saw there?

WATT: I think just witnessing the good in people. What I witnessed in that time was little kids having a lemonade stand trying to give to the foundation. It was big super stars from all over the world. It was guys from other teams. It was people from different states putting any different aside, putting any other thought aside and just purely doing it for the good of the human, and I think that was the most special part of me was knowing that people were helping people regardless of their situation.

WIRE: J.J., you are up for the Walter Payton man of the year. I only ever won it for my team, I never made it to this level. What would it mean for you to win that award?

WATT: It would be special. I think it would be such an honor and so humbling to be mentioned along with Walter Payton. It's already such an honor, but it would be special because I get to share it with the people of Houston who have been through so much who everybody stepped up to help their fellow neighbor out during such a tough time. And then it would be worth it to be able to win it on behalf of all the hundreds of thousands of people who donated to the fund and everything that's going on in the world. There are so many tough time, and it is the Walter Payton man of the year award, but it is so much bigger than just one man, and I am just very fortunate to represent all of these great people.

WARD: Kudos to what you have done in the city of Houston, $37 million, I don't know if it is possible to raise it, but you did it. Best of luck, tonight.

WATT: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Thanks for being here. Thanks for doing what you do for Houston as well.

WATT: Thank you, guys, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, keep the Kleenex handy because up next Coy Wire brings us the emotional journey of Bills hall of fame quarterback Jim Kelly. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: We are a long way from Pittsburgh, but we have our own little Hines field forming here behind us.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: Does Steeler nation ever cease to amaze you?

WARD: Man, that's great. We've got the best fans in the world, but unfortunately we're not playing in the Super Bowl. But they're still here right now.

BRIGGS: There are some insane fans all over the country.

The last time this time, Minnesota, hosted the Super Bowl was more than 25 years ago. Jim Kelly was the starting quarterback for the Bills, the second of four Super Bowls for that team. Jim Kelly lost all four, but Coy, as you found out, that adversity really prepared him for a long, painful, arduous journey to come.

WIRE: Jim Kelly is tough, concussions, torn ligaments, four straight Super Bowl losses, but the real pain in Jim's life, he lost his only son Hunter when Hunter was just only eight-years old. Jim persevered through cancer and chemo, a prosthetic jaw, eight missing teeth and unbearable pain in his face because of it. But the pain in Jim Kelly's life has made him even tougher ahead of this Super Bowl Sunday, which is also World Cancer Day and makes him appreciate his blessings even more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kelly under center throws wide open Thomas at the 35.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great throw by Kelly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is no good. He missed it to the right. An anguished look on the face of Jim Kelly. It is all over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another Super Bowl loss.

JIM KELLY, FORMER BUFFALO BILLS QUARTERBACK: Those are the things that even put chills in my body now, because those are the days you will never forget win or lose.

The excitement, what it's like to know you went through a Super Bowl, played in the Super Bowl, and knowing that I looked up in the stands and there was mom and dad and my five brothers saying, that is my son and them saying that is my brother.

I know there's people all around the country that are Bills fans smiling and saying, you know what, we didn't win, but we are still proud of you.

WIRE: Even in the defeat we can find the small victories? KELLY: Yes, you got that right.

I mean, I have been through so much in my life, and I have never imagined the word "cancer" coming into my life. And I always look back to my son. He fought for every day of his life, and I fought every day of my life, but I fought because I have two beautiful daughters, and I had a wife that sacrificed so much to spend time with me and make sure that I was all right.

WIRE: What did that feel like seeing your big brother, this will legendary football star withered away?

DANNY KELLY, BROTHER: It broke my heart. I mean, I cried night after night knowing what he was going through, and if I could have taken his pain, I would have.

WIRE: Kelly had one goal during his treatment, to the walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. On January 13th, he fulfilled that dream.

KELLY: My daughters are my life. And I am so proud and so blessed to know that, that dream, that goal of mine to be able to make it to that day and to be able to walk her down the aisle came true.

WIRE: Now Kelly has a new goal, an endless one.

KELLY: When I speak, I try to be able to make a difference, and even today hearing some of the people for the first time, it made me wake up a little bit, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wanted to get through it, and we did.

DR. DHIREN SHAH, ONCOLOGIST: He is an inspiration. He was an inspiration on the football field, but now he is an inspiration to cancer patients everywhere around the world.

KELLY: I guarantee you the majority of the people that have been diagnosed with head and neck cancer have nowhere to turn, they don't know who to talk to, and your cancer game plan and the reason we came up with it, because the quarterback, as you well know, Coy, we have a game plan. And this is my game plan to be able to make a difference for others who might on the other hand want to give up. And I came up with the saying, it goes like this, make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIRE: You guys, I heard one man at the cancer support group say that in his worst moments of chemo down 70 pound, he said if Jim Kelly went through this then I can, too. His story continues to inspire people, and through YourCancerGamePlan.com, he is going to keep doing it.

BRIGGS: The toughest dude in the league that maybe we have ever seen. All right, still to come, will the Eagles make it their first ever Lombardi trophy, or will the Patriots take home their sixth? Predictions plus Andy Scholes shows us what Minnesota has to offer these frozen football fans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: In what other Super Bowl city can you climb 15 stories and zipline across the Mississippi River while it is zero degrees? Just Minneapolis.

And when you are at the Super Bowl in a city that recently got a foot of snow, you have are to do some tubing.

Minnesota, it is baseball in the summer and ice fishing in the winter. And oh, I got one. Oh, yes. That is what I am talking about. That is how you ice fish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: I'm Andy Scholes at U.S. Bank Stadium, and to say that it is cold outside here in Minneapolis, that would be an understatement. Tomorrow's game is expected to be the coldest Super Bowl on record. For the first time ever the forecasted low is below zero for the host city on game day. Now, luckily the game is indoors, but getting into the stadium should be an adventure for all of the fans. But they are trying to the help those fans out. For the first time ever in the Super Bowl they are having remote security checkpoints where fans with tickets can actually go to the Mall of America, go through security, and then get a free ride to the stadium inside of the security perimeter. No matter how fans get to this game, history says it should be a good one.

BRIGGS: All right, let's get the predictions here. Thank you, Andy. Who wins and why?

WARD: Dave, I said it last year and I'm going to say it again, you do not bet against Tom Brady. I am going to go 31-24.

WIRE: Look, I think that you can't overlook Nick Foles, and Philadelphia has a top 10 defense, a top 10run game, so I really think that Philadelphia is still going to get their butts kicked by New England.

(LAUGHTER)

WIRE: I went to the opening night and I knew right away the Patriots walked out like machines. They've been there before, no cell phone. The Eagles come out taking selfies, they're enamored. I think the bigness of this week is going to have them mentally and physically drained in the third and fourth quarters. I saw it happened to my Falcons last years. I think it will happen to the Eagles again.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: It wasn't so long ago that one Phil Simms, legendary Giants' quarterback, got hurt. Who took over? Jeff Hostetler led that team to a Super Bowl title. Nick Foles joins Jeff Hostetler as backup quarterback from the NFC east to win a ring and gives Philly their first.

All right, that will do it for us. Thank you, Coy, Hines. Thank you to Mike Freeman and Andy Scholes, and thank all of you for watching this CNN Bleacher Report special. We appreciate it. Enjoy the weekend and enjoy the game.