Atlanta Takes the Field and Stage at Super Bowl LVIII

Atlanta influences the Super Bowl.

From halftime to overtime, ATL’s impact on professional football’s biggest game was hard to miss. With one of Atlanta’s most popular recording artists ruling the halftime show to a former Georgia Bulldog making a game-winning catch for the repeat champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Mecole Hardman, the Chiefs wide receiver who made that pivotal catch, played for the Bulldogs from 2016-18. There he had 60 receptions for 961 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also did punt return duties for the Dawgs, with 39 punt returns for 592 yards and a single TD. He had 35 kick returns as a Dawg for 875 yards.

He was drafted into the Chiefs in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. After playing for the New York Jets for a season in 2023, he returned to the Chiefs and won his third Super Bowl title last night.

After the game went into overtime, the ball went back to the Chiefs after the 49ers failed to score in their possession, Kansas City went down the field, headed for another Super Bowl Title. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw to Hardman who took the ball into the endzone, sealing the 25-22 victory and their third Super Bowl win.

Hardman reportedly didn’t even know his catch gave his team the win until Mahomes told him they had won. He reportedly did not know the NFL’s new overtime rules which were put into effect this year.

“I ain’t gonna lie man, I caught that pass and I blacked out,” said Hardeman to CBS Sports after the game. “I didn’t know what was going on until I saw Pat running to me and I was like, ‘Oh, we just won? Let’s celebrate!”

Hardeman also found himself face to face with pop superstar Taylor Swift after the game, who congratulated him. “So happy for you guys,” she said as reported by KMBC TV Kansas City.

Hardman wasn’t the only Super Bowl player with Georgia ties this year. Georgia Tech’s Harrison Butker (Chiefs kicker, who set a record for the longest field goal in Super Bowl history, 57 yards.) and UGA’s Malik Herring, a defensive lineman, also played for the Chiefs. The San Francisco 49ers had UGA’s Charlie Woerner (TE), Chris Conley (WR) and Robert Beal. Georgia Tech’s Jordan Mason also plays for the 49ers.

Even as the players made impacts on the field. Fans in Atlanta and around the world are still talking about the Atlantan who made an impact on the stage at halftime.

Usher, a pop and R&B superstar who has been consistently performing and making hit music since 1993, put on a well-received halftime performance that not only featured his most known hits (“Caught Up”, “Love In This Club”, “Burn” and “OMG”, but also brought in Alicia Keys (who performed a couple of her hits with Usher) and fellow ATL superstar acts Lil Jon (“Turn Down For What”), and Ludacris (“Yeah”). Singer and guitarist H.E.R. also joined in the performances. It was reported that the show was fully produced by an Atlanta-based crew.

Many are already calling it one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows ever.

The halftime show, which Usher said would showcase Atlanta culture, won raves from Atlantans and others on social media watching the performance.

New York Times writer Jon Caramacnica wrote in his review of the halftime show that Usher “delivered a raucous Atlanta party and a lesson in intimate showmanship.” National Public Radio writer Aisha Harris wrote the show, although “chaotic” still “cememted his R&B legacy.” Other praise for the halftime show came from Earvin Magic Johnson, Stephen A. Smith, Stephanie Mills, and Richard Sherman.

Usher said on stage “I took the world to the A!” Those who saw this performance seemed glad to go on the trip.

The players on the field between Usher’s performance were just lucky to have the experience of playing in the ultimate pro football game, the Super Bowl.

By Brian Allen, founder and editor, Sports in the ATL