Normally when Tim Terry leaves for a Super Bowl he does so with a week’s worth of clothes, plenty of work to keep him occupied, and plans for figuring out how to fill in the long and arduous waiting until kickoff. That’s what he did last year with Kansas City and nearly a decade ago with Green Bay.
This year, though, he’s not bringing a thing. He won’t have to.
Because of COVID-19 protocols and precautions, Terry, the director of pro personnel for the defending Super Bowl champs and a native of Hempstead on Long Island, is turning Super Bowl Week into a day trip. Instead of cramming all of his things into one big bag, he’s cramming the entire experience into one long day.
"In and out," he told Newsday. "It’ll be exciting. Different, but very very exciting."
His day will begin as every one has since the summer, with a COVID-19 test at the team facility. Then he and his wife will board a bus to the airport and get on a chartered "friends and family" plane to Tampa that will include the wives of coaches and some front office workers such as himself. They’ll land in Tampa around 3 p.m., get bused to Raymond James Stadium, watch the game, hopefully celebrate a bit afterward, then do the whole thing in reverse. The flight is expected to be back in Kansas City sometime after midnight on Monday morning.
It is, of course, the final necessary absurdity in a year that has challenged everyone in the country, everyone in the NFL, everyone in pro personnel, and everyone who has been trying to get a second straight Lombardi Trophy for Kansas City. Terry has had to adjust just about every aspect of his job, from the way he evaluates prospective players without on-field workouts to his advance work on opposing teams. Instead of being a city ahead of Kansas City’s schedule like he normally is, Terry ceded that advance work to the organization’s college scouts who were already spread around the country.
"You give them a tutorial on what to look for as a pro scout in the games and they all did a good job," Terry said. "I’m proud of the way all of our guys responded."
It’s certainly worked out for Kansas City. They’re back in the Super Bowl, even if the hoopla and build-up they experienced last year isn’t.
Terry said he hasn’t been home to Long Island since the pandemic began, which means he has not yet been able to show off his second Super Bowl ring on his home turf. He’s looking forward to it, though.
"Hopefully this spring or early summer," he said. "That’s a big part of who I am. It’s what made me into the man I am today. I love to get back around Hempstead High School, around Percy Jackson Youth Center down there on South Franklin, and see some of the people you haven’t seen in a while and see what’s going on."
Terry has ties to some of Kansas City’s opponents on Sunday. He and starting left tackle for the Bucs, Donovan Smith, both grew up in Hempstead. And while he did not play for Bruce Arians at Temple University, arriving a few years after Arians left for the NFL, he is certainly familiar with his legacy there and the slew of assistants on his current staff who also played at Temple: Todd Bowles, Kevin Ross, Todd McNair.
"When you are a Temple Owl, you are a Temple Owl for life," Terry said. "When you are not playing against them you are rooting for them and you’re proud of the successes and the growth they have had in this profession."
On Sunday, there will be no time for pleasantries with that crew. There won’t be time for anything, really, other than watching the Super Bowl. And Terry won’t even be doing that from one of his normal positions in a suite, in a press box, or on the field.
"I’ll be in the stands," he said. "I can’t remember the last time I was in the stands watching a game. So that will be different."
Just like everything else in this Super Bowl season for him.