SANTA CLARA (AP) — Kyle Shanahan knows one mistake he wants to avoid in his second trip to the Super Bowl.
When Shanahan made his first trip to the big game as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons three years ago, his week in Houston got off to a stressful start when a reporter mistakenly took his backpack that included his iPad playbook at media night.
“I had almost a panic attack,” Shanahan recalled Monday. “All you guys were huddled around me and distracting me, setting me up while he could take it. No, it was right between my legs, I was sitting on the top part of a chair and it was between my legs. Then, when I was done talking to everybody, it wasn’t there anymore. There was a backpack there, but it wasn’t mine. He took mine and left his, but I was panicked.”
Shanahan’s concern was less about the game plan on the iPad because that was password protected and he could get a replacement. But the backpack had about 50 tickets to the game that he had bought for friends and family, as well as lots of cash he had already received as reimbursement.
So as the rest of the Falcons left Minute Maid Park to go back to the team hotel, Shanahan started searching for his backpack.
“It was gone for about an hour and a half,” he said. “The whole team left me, the Patriots came in, I was walking around there looking for my backpack frantically, running into more media people and still having to do interviews past my deal. I was trying not to come off as a jerk blowing them off, but I was panicked trying to find my backpack.”
Eventually, a similar looking backpack was found near where Shanahan was giving interviews when his was taken and he saw it belonged to veteran Bay Area sports writer Art Spander.
Spander was tracked down and had Shanahan’s backpack but it still took some convincing to make the switch.
“They tried to take it off of him and he wouldn’t give it to me at first until I showed him it was mine,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan said he quickly forgave Spander, who now covers the 49ers in the Bay Area. After the Niners won the NFC championship game Sunday against Green Bay to send Shanahan back to the Super Bowl, Spander asked the coach if he’d bring the backpack to Miami for nostalgia sake.
“I will, but I’ll lock it to my arm if you’re around,” Shanahan joked. “I know what you do.”