Of all the things I’ve been able to do through my career in television, today might have been the coolest.
That statement is likely to change while Jim Nabors sings at this year’s Indianapolis 500, but for right now, Super Bowl Media Day might be the highlight of my broadcast career. Thing is, even with a man in a large fur hat, another in a cape and superhero mask and a Spanish-speaking female reporter encouraging players to Salsa dance in a sombrero, it seemed tame compared to the Super Bowl Media Days I’ve seen video of in the past.
But still, for a sports fan and career journalist, it was beyond cool to “people watch” as personalities from ESPN, NFL network, broadcast networks, top-flight newspapers and everywhere in between zipped by, making their way from station to station, player to player was almost dizzying.
Even better, my role at Media Day was almost like a fly on the wall. I was there to get pictures, tweet some pictures and observations, then come home and write about it. I can’t imagine the effort our team of photographers and reporters (not to mention hundreds of others) put forth, pushing through the crowd to get their questions asked and answered, all with a mind toward putting the story on the air for the news.
And speaking of asking and answering, the directions the players were pulled in the 60-minute sessions was fascinating. In each team’s session, the head coach (Bill Belichick even smiled! Twice, I think!) and a couple of stars were mobbed by cameras and microphones, while about a dozen others fielded a steady stream of questions from passing reporters and a couple more from each team were set up in the stands, talking to a smaller group of reporters, and mostly only ones with a specific interest in their story.
With any credentialed media member available to ask questions, the inquiries were widely varied. One minute, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was answering questions in Spanish, the next in English. Student reporters would ask a player “what is it like to be an NFL player?” and a moment later, the same player would be asked to break down the opponent’s defense. A caped reporter from Nickelodeon asked players about their favorite superhero, while another reporter convinced Giants safety Antrel Rolle to belt out a chorus of Madonna’s “Material Girl.”
He declined a verse of “Like A Virgin,” for personal reasons, he explained.
Among the crowd were stand-up comedians Nick DiPaolo and Artie Lange, the latter formerly of “The Howard Stern Show,” who now host a talk show on satellite radio. Lange was the one that got the stoic Belichick to crack, posing a question from an alleged Twitter user about the intricacies of basketball’s zone defense.
“I’m not a basketball guy. I’m a football guy,” Belichick replied, smiling before turning to more pressing questions.
In the past year alone, I’ve attended the Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500 and Game 6 of the World Series, but today’s experience ranked up there with all of them. If what everyone has been saying is true, I can’t wait for Indianapolis to host the Super Bowl again…or even just the Media Day.