By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

MINNEAPOLIS (CBS) — Justin Timberlake is a very diplomatic man, so he is unwilling to declare a rooting interest in Sunday’s Super Bowl. But the halftime performer made it clear — VERY clear — that his love for Tom Brady knows no bounds.

Timberlake spoke to the media on Thursday in downtown Minneapolis, not far from U.S. Bank Stadium, where he will perform the halftime show when the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots play in Super Bowl LII. And, after being informed that Brady listed Timberlake as one of his man crushes, the singer declared boldly that the feeling is mutual.

“I’d say he’s on my list. The feeling is reciprocated. If you want to make this official,” Timberlake said.

In case it wasn’t quite clear, Timberlake later reiterated.

“I love Tom Brady. There, I said it,” Timberlake said. “It feels good to get it out.”

Spending equal time on stage gushing about the Patriots quarterback as he did talking about his new album, Timberlake was pressed to answer whether he’ll be rooting for the Patriots or Eagles. After noting that he has to take his tour through Philadelphia, his only response was a succinct “Go Pack Go.” But reading between the lines, it’s easy to see which team Timberlake is pulling for on Sunday.

“Speed runs in our family,” Timberlake said when talking about his 3-year-old son running the 100-yard dash at the stadium during rehearsals. “I’ve been running routes, too. I just want to throw this out there to Belichick, if all of your receivers go down, I’ll be ready to go. So shoot me a text.”

You’ll note that Timberlake did not offer his services to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson … though there is a distinct possibility that Timberlake, like much of America, does not know who Doug Pederson is.

What Belichick is sure to like about Timberlake is that despite all the praise given to Brady — for his performance on the field, the person he is off the field, and most of all, his nice hair — Timberlake was sure to mix in a sharp jab to keep Brady’s ego from getting too big.

When asked if Brady would make a good special guest during the show, Timberlake’s brain quickly jumped to that footage from Carnival several years ago.

“On stage, at the halftime show? He’s busy this year,” Timberlake said. “Also, I don’t know. I mean, [he’s] on the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks, but I don’t know if the verdict is out on his dance moves though.”

Apparently feeling bad, Timberlake shifted the conversation: “He has great hair, though. I mean great hair.”

NON-BRADY QUICK HITS FROM TIMBERLAKE’S PRESS CONFERENCE

–JT said there will NOT be an *NSYNC reunion at the halftime show.

–It will be his third time performing at the halftime show, which is a record for any individual. He previously performed as a member of *NSYNC at Super Bowl XXXV (aka the greatest halftime show ever) and, infamously, at halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII.

–“Can’t Stop The Feeling” will be part of Justin’s set. He would not reveal any more secrets.

–A reporter led a singing of “Happy Birthday” for Timberlake, who turned 37 on Wednesday. After the song concluded, he scanned the room and said, “You get a little nervous when people are watching you sing, huh?”

–He said that his son will “never play football,” which was an interesting thing to say while standing on an NFL stage with an NFL mic in his face.

–He praised Prince and said he can’t fully believe that he gets to hold a listening party for his new album at Paisley Park.

–For the halftime show, he promised that his show will do some things that have never been done before. He likely means that in a good way, and not in the Janet Jackson way. Though I suppose we’ll find out on Sunday.

In another moment, when talking about his family and the most important things and people in his life, he threw in this line: “To have a family and to think about how my son will live in this world, I think that’s probably the biggest factor. That … and Tom Brady. Tom Brady’s hair, mostly. He’s got great hair. Does he have a shampoo commercial? I’m just saying.”

Both Brady and Timberlake frequent the ritzy Yellowstone Club, the home of many of the world’s richest and most famous people. Timberlake said he enjoys golfing with Brady but hasn’t been skiing with him at the Yellowstone Club. Timberlake wasn’t sure if the Patriots allow Brady to ski. Perhaps he was just covering for a buddy.

He was also asked if he spends time with Gisele Bundchen.

“Why are you trying to break up a bromance?” he replied. “We just got this locked up.”

He was asked if he visited Starbucks with Gisele on Wednesday.

“I was not,” he said. “I would have definitely remembered that.”

In a more serious moment, Timberlake did break down what it is that he respects most about Brady.

“Any time you get to share time like that away from everything with somebody that I think you have a lot of true respect and admiration for, how seriously he takes his craft and how great he is at it, I think we’re probably — well, I know it — that we’re very like-minded people,” Timberlake said. “And so it’s nice to be around somebody like that and not just hang with him but also pick their brain on what makes them so great as well. Maybe like, take a little bit of the Brady Sauce. You guys can coin that phrase.”

In case it wasn’t clear, Timberlake likes Brady. A lot. So much so that he’d like to invite the quarterback over to catch the big game some time.

“Tom’s great. He’s the greatest of all time — officially,” Timberlake said. “Tom’s definitely the type of dude you’d invite over to watch the Super Bowl with you. The problem is he’s always in the Super Bowl.”

Timberlake will be busy himself for this particular Super Bowl. But after all of the back and forth this week, it’s safe to assume the two will find some time for a proper bro hug if Brady can pull off the victory.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

Comments
  1. When exactly did my beloved Boston become pom-pom city? Just-like-everywhere-else USA? I know Channel 4 is the “official” Patriots station but does that mean you’re not journalists anymore? Today Justin Timberlake said his son would never be playing football. Don’t you think that news would trump (NPI) him saying how much he loves Tom Brady? Yet not a mention of that, as far as I observed. Sad.

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