The Patriots’ post-Super Bowl party was a painful affair, and not just because the team lost to the Eagles.
The bash at the Minneapolis Convention Center was awkward and uncomfortable because, in addition to an open bar and all-you-can-eat spread of sliders and falafel, guests were treated to a dynamite performance by Jennifer Lopez — and they barely seemed to notice.
JLo, backed by an ace band and a half-dozen dancers, hit the stage sometime after midnight at what was expected to be an all-night shindig celebrating Super Bowl No. 6, but it was apparent immediately that the crowd wasn’t having it. Despite JLo’s best efforts — and they were damn fine efforts — to get people singing and dancing, the crowd didn’t, or maybe couldn’t, rise to the occasion.
It occurred to us that maybe Patriots fans, many of them suburbanites wearing the jersey of their favorite player, just aren’t that familiar with Jennifer Lopez. Whatever the reason, it was a bummer to behold, but it didn’t slow down Lopez, who strutted, shrieked, and booty-shaked her way through her hits, including “Jenny From the Block,” “On the Floor,” and “All I Have,” which she dedicated to the Patriots.
The dedication of that song struck some in the audience — OK, us — as ironic considering coach Bill Belichick’s decision not to play defensive back Malcolm Butler in the biggest game of the year. Had the team really given it all they had Sunday?
At one point, JLo paused to summon her boyfriend, former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, to the stage — “baby, baby, baby, come out here!” — and he was promptly booed. A-Rod tried to win them over by declaring Tom Brady “the greatest quarterback of all time” and Belichick “the greatest coach in sports history,” but it didn’t work, and he soon disappeared backstage.
But back to Butler for a moment. The Patriots’ post-Super Bowl party, put on by team owner Robert Kraft, is for the players and their families as much as it is for season ticket-holders. It’s always a lavish spread; sometimes a lot of players attend, and sometimes just a few. Who’s there really depends on the outcome of the game. Butler, whose failure to make it onto the field Sunday will be the story of Super Bowl 52 forever, was one of the few players at the party. He was gracious to fans who approached him — and there were many — but politely declined to have his photo taken. (We didn’t see too many other players — no Brady, Danny Amendola, orRob Gronkowski — but Devin McCourty was there chilling with his family.)
Country rockers Florida Georgia Line followed Lopez to the stage, and frontmen Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard did their best but couldn’t match JLo’s intensity or moves. (Let’s be honest, they didn’t stand a chance.) The stage was then cleared of instruments and bathed in yellow light, and after a very long intro, rapper Gucci Mane finally appeared. What was left of the crowd moved to the front of the stage and held up their cameras. Gucci didn’t stay long, though, exiting abruptly after maybe 20 minutes.
By then it was after 3:30 a.m., and the dudes in their Brady, Vrabel, and Van Noy jerseys headed to the exits, bracing for the sub-zero temperatures.