If you enjoy the circus, are not too fond of your dignity and don’t embarrass easily, then someday you should consider a trip to Super Bowl Media Day. What started as a place where actual journalists could interview NFL players has turned into a mass demonstration of … well, it’s really hard to describe what the demonstration is.
There are actual journalists trying to actually interview NFL players … in the midst of cartoon characters, scantily-clad women, comedians, gymnasts, dancers, entertainers, and kids.
And actually, as the size of Media Day has grown – over 5,000 media members were credentialed for Super Bowl XLVIII – the chaos has diminished. No reporter has shouted a wedding proposal at a quarterback in at least half a decade. And Gilbert Gottfried hasn’t been seen near a podium in years.
Still, Media Day XLVIII at the Prudential Center in Newark didn’t disappoint. Here were 10 of the highlights – or lowlights, depending on your perspective – from the craziest NFL day of the year:
1. Where’s Waldo? This actually was the most entertaining part of Media Day. A man, dressed up as Waldo – complete with the red and white striped shirt and hat – walking around Media Day turning the whole scene into one big Where’s Waldo picture. And the best part was when he’d duck into the crowd and send one of his assistants to a podium and they’d ask a player “Where’s Waldo?” Really, he wasn’t too hard to pick out in the crowd.
2. The Rutgers Marching Band. This Media Day had everything, including entertainment – which wasn’t exactly a welcomed addition by the media throng. Thankfully, the band played only before Media Day and during halftime. There was also entertainment down on the floor provided by the Jets and Eagles cheerleaders. Why the Eagles? Because the Giants don’t have cheerleaders so the NFC wasn’t represented.
3. Minuteman, Minute waltz … whatever. Another distinguished member of the media was walking around in costume interviewing other costumed media members, only this one wasn’t easy to figure out. He was dressed sort of Colonial-ly, leading one reporter (OK, it was me) to argue with another whether he was supposed to be George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. Only then did a third reporter come over yelling “He’s Mozart! He’s Austrian!” … Oh. Of course.
4. Marshawn Lynch’s silent protest. The cranky Seahawks’ running back made noise earlier in the playoffs when he drew a conditional $50,000 fine from the NFL for not speaking to reporters all year. It was conditional in that it would be wiped out if he adhered to the league’s Media Policy and doubled if he didn’t. Then he threatened to stand up to the league by skipping Media Day anyway. But he didn’t. He showed up and talked for six minutes and 21 seconds, then took a few steps back and sat there with a hood and shades on as reporters shouted questions and photographers clicked away. It was a pathetic show of defiance, really, but he got away with it as the league decided not to slap him with the doubled fine. Asked about Lynch’s performance, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, “I heard he did a great six minutes. Some comedians make a career off of that.”
5. Deion Sanders interviewing Richard Sherman. When Prime Time does an interview, it’s really a love fest, but this one had a special feeling given the attention Sherman got for his 18-second post-game rant to Fox’s Erin Andrews. That was an all-time attention grab, and few were ever better at grabbing attention than Deion. And Deion’s second best moment came when he approached the silent Lynch in a failed attempt to get him to talk on camera. The interlude ended with a hug.
6. Randy Moss doing interviews at Media Day. The fact that Moss is now a member of the media (for Fox) is hysterical for anyone who had to deal with him during his playing days. He rarely talked and was rarely pleasant, even when turning down interviews. One of the least liked players in the NFL (at least by the media) is now a charming media personality. He’s turned to the dark side, all to earn a few (OK, a lot of) bucks.
7. Gabby Douglas doing cartwheels. Things you can only see up close on Media Day: An Olympic gold medal gymnast working for Inside Edition, doing cartwheels on the sidelines by request. Just stay out of her way. She may be small, but that cartwheel turns fast.
8. No Gilbert Gottfried.But there were cameos from Hank Azaria and Joe Piscopo, which is always good for a laugh or two. Same for a TV reporter who was sporting a blue-white-and-orange striped quote that made him look like a Shea Stadium usher from the ‘70s.
9. New Jersey’s inferiority complex. This wasn’t from Media Day, but it’s worth a special mention because it spawned several dozen similar questions to players on Media Day. It happened Sunday, when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll first stepped to a podium and said how happy he was to bring his team to New York. About 10 minutes into his press conference, a Jersey City councilman hijacked the microphone and scolded Carroll, saying, “You said you’re glad to be back in New York. I just want to remind you, you’re in New Jersey.” Carroll apologized and even began his press conference the next day by saying, “First, I’d like to say it’s great to be here in New Jersey.” It seemed every player was asked about Jersey getting overlooked in the Super Bowl hype. But Richard Sherman was sure to tell everyone that New Jersey “is a great city”. At least he got the name right.
10. Pick Boy Trivia. Yes, Pick Boy.He’s a Nickelodeon Superhero – or so I’m told – and he’s become a staple at Super Bowl Media Day. His best moment at this one was when he approached Richard Sherman and yelled, “Pick Boy Trivia question: Who is louder? Me or you?” Right on cue, Sherman leaned in, lowered his voice and quietly said, “You.”
By Ralph Vacchiano, @RVacchianoNYDN