HOUSTON — Andy Levitre stood in the middle of the chaos here at Super Bowl LI Opening Night on Monday.
The former Titans offensive lineman was interviewed by ESPN's Chris Berman, had his face put on a Snapchat selfie filter as a dog (that was definitely a new one to him), and he touched on countless topics – football and non-football -- when approached by reporters. All while doing his best to soak in the overall craziness of the night.
Levitre, in his second year with the Falcons, is thankful for his health, and good fortune.
"It has been awesome,'' Levitre said. "I can't say enough about how much fun it has been in Atlanta, and to have this opportunity. Last year, when I first got here, I knew something special was brewing and it has been cool to be around these guys and watch all this happen. I feel really blessed."
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for Levitre. His wife, Katie, gave birth to a baby girl just hours after the team's playoff win over the Seahawks. She'd watched the playoff game from the Georgia Dome while in labor, and he praised her for that. Then came an NFC Championship Game victory over the Packers, which is why the Falcons are here to face the Patriots on Sunday.
Levitre is a starting guard for the Falcons after being traded by the Titans prior to the 2015 season for a sixth-round draft pick in 2016, and a conditional pick in the 2017 draft.
Here at the Super Bowl, Levitre said he regretted not being able to perform at his highest level with the Titans, who signed him to a lucrative deal in free agency in 2013. Incidentally, former Titans general manager Ruston Webster, who signed Levitre, is a national scout with the Falcons.
Levitre had three surgeries while with the Titans – a knee, a hip and an emergency appendectomy. While he's still never missed a game in his eight-year NFL career – a span of 128 games – his time in Tennessee tested him mentally and physically, he said.
"That was a rough patch for me from a health standpoint,'' Levitre said. "Overcoming those injuries, I know they weren't anything that took me out of the season, but playing through those injuries and then getting surgeries, it really affected the way I played ball in a negative way.
"It was frustrating to say the least. My wife got to see it when I got home every night. I was disappointed. I know what I am capable of, and to not be able to do it, it was frustrating for me. It was a rough patch."
Levitre said he still keeps in touch with some of his former Titans teammates, including offensive linemen Taylor Lewan, Brian Scwenke and Michael Roos. He played in 32 games for the Titans over two seasons.
"I keep on touch with a bunch of them,'' he said. "I had some good memories in Nashville. My wife and I loved the city there."
He believes Lewan is a perennial Pro Bowler in the making. Lewan played in his first Pro Bowl on Sunday in Orlando.
"I got to play with him for two years,'' Levitre said of Lewan. "Taylor is a good kid, the sky is the limit for him. For him to make the Pro Bowl is great. He is on his way to making a great career for himself."
Levitre said he's thankful to be in the position he's in, and for his good health.
He'll line up in a Super Bowl against the Patriots on Sunday, aiming to get a ring.
"What happened in Tennessee, you come to realize the business aspect of it. There were a lot of factors that went into it,'' Levitre said. "It was just one of those things where I knew what I am capable of doing, and to not be able to do my best, it was hard.
"But for me to be here (at the Super Bowl), it has been cool, and I am thankful. But I think for me, and I think this is true for the other guys, we are not trying to get too hyped. Yeah, it's a big moment and it is the Super Bowl, but we are all trying to treat it like another week while also enjoying the moment."
Five Titans players compete in the 2017 AFC/NFC Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla. (Photos: AP, Amber Harding)