Marcus Peters tugged his beanie lower over his ears before bringing an oversized hoodie up over his head so only the smallest part of his face was visible.
But Peters wasn’t shying from the spotlight.
He was thriving in it.
The former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback was living it up in the Super Bowl’s Opening Night, an event that is a media day in name only.
It’s really a cross between a Miss America — or maybe Mr. America — Pageant, a pep rally and a basketball game ... although the only basketball element came from the thousands of fans sitting in the seats at State Farm Arena watching this made-for-TV event unfold Monday night.
With the lights down low and the jumbotron blaring interviews from across the room, Peters chirped back at a reporter who asked if Tom Brady’s tendency to get rid of the ball quickly would change his game plan.
“You tell me,” he said. “You kind of, like, know that answer if you’re telling me. What do you think we need to do?
“That’s our game plan. I ain’t gon’ tell you.”
While most of the marquee players sat on risers scattered around the hardwood court-turned-stage, Peters, the L.A. Rams corner, milled around the floor.
A week earlier, Peters had his first major viral moment of this year’s playoffs when he tweeted, “It’s gumbo week let’s eat” before taking on the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game. Though he eventually deleted that message, Peters doubled down on the comment later in the week, telling Saints coach Sean Payton that they were going to have a nice bowl of gumbo together.
In keeping him off the podium, the team’s PR powers-that-be limited the potential of another trash-talking moment. Two handlers flanked Peters the whole time, rushing him from one interview to another.
But despite his — and their — best attempts at staying incognito and on message, Peters was easy to spot thanks to the small crowd that surrounded him almost at all times.
Not only is Peters a key member of an overhauled defense that got the Rams to this place, he’s also a walking viral moment, a man made for social media — at least when he’s in the mood.
And boy was he in the mood on Monday night.
He entertained questions from TV news and social media coordinators, who asked him things like, “Would you rather get into the octagon with MMA fighter Conor McGregor or take a body shot from boxer Deontay Wilder?”
“I’ll beat McGregor’s ass,” Peters said. “I’m (kidding) though. I’ll go see McGregor. I’m not gonna take Wilder’s shot.”
And he countered reporters’ questions about the Rams bringing in players with questionable reputations, guys like himself, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh.
“What happened with Golden State brought in all those people?” he said.
“That worked,” the reporter replied.
“Alright, cool,” Peters said. “So what’s the difference between them bringing in guys and us bringing in guys?”
And on it went.
When one reporter gave Peters a fortune cookie to open on air, he played along for a moment before giving a sly grin and walking away as she asked to know his fortune.
“She was trying to get me to tell her my fortune,” he said. “Uh uh. It’s mine.”
This time a year ago, Peters was a couple weeks removed from a nondescript exit following the Chiefs’ divisional-round loss to the Tennessee Titans, and a month away from being traded to the Rams. Now, a year later, Peters has settled into being one half of a revamped, trash-talking secondary tandem with University of Kansas product Talib at the opposite corner spot.
“A change of scenery is always good sometimes,” Peters said. “I guess it just wasn’t working in KC. It was just time to move on.”
For Peters, the move to the Rams was beneficial for multiple reasons. Not only did he get a fresh start, the Oakland native also got a chance to move back to a familiar part of the country.
“I got a chance to be closer to home and take full advantage of your opportunities,” he said. “When you come into a great organization with a great head coach, great GM, great owner and just the whole organization how everything’s run so smoothly, you respect it and you want to be a part of their things.”
Peters was a game away from facing his former team in the Super Bowl. Instead, he’ll be going up against Brady and the Patriots.
“It was a game that they should’ve won,” Peters said said of the Chiefs’ AFC Championship Game loss to New England. “Tom just got ‘em. Other than that, it just falls like that sometimes.”
Even though Peters’ former team won’t be in Atlanta, he’s planning to catch up with at least one member of the Chiefs. He and veteran linebacker Justin Houston are planning to get dinner together one night while Peters is here.
“That’s my dude,” he said. “That’s my brother.”
Hamming it up in the spotlight this week, Peters is in his element. But he won’t be able to escape more questions about the Chiefs.
“I’m here now,” he said when asked about Kansas City. “It don’t really matter what happened in the past. I’m here now. Ready to get to it.”