Playing reporter is tiring, especially on a day like today. But, as far as unique experiences go, this ranks up there. I've never done anything like this before, and for people as green and raw and "unaccountable" as schmucks like Joel Thorman and I are, I have to say we did a damn fine job today. We covered both the Colts and Saints Media Days. We attended the interview sessions with CBS Sports and their football analysts. We took photos all over Sun Life Stadium, including images of the grounds crew painting the Colts logo on one endzone.
We saw John Clayton chatting it up with reporters. I stood next to Tim Graham of ESPN when he got Bill Cowher to talk about the Buffalo Bills job that many thought Cowher would take. I asked questions of Colts players like Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Pierre Garçon, and Antoine Bethea. I watched Pat McAfee try and interview Clint Session. I saw Chris Berman huff and puff through the media complex as if some kind of live animal were crawling up his butt. Berman was looking to interview Reggie Wayne, and something about the interview set-up was pissing him off.
When it is all said and done, I realize that, while being here in South Florida, the Super Bowl has very little to do with NFL fans. It is not an event for us. It is a tailored and crafted event for media and corporate sponsors. Anyone who suggests otherwise is either dumb or lying to you. This game is all about back-slapping media and corporate friends. It is about ratings, commercials, product placement, and money, money, MONEY!
Do not get me wrong. The experience at Media Day was amazing. However, the longer I am here, the more I realize this is not an event geared to fans. In fact, fans are a distant after-thought.
I know some of you may say "Well, no sh*t, BBS. It's the friggin' Super Bowl." I realize the stakes of the game, the exposure it gets from world media, etc. My work table was opposite a guy who is here covering the game for a magazine in Switzerland. Mags in Switzerland do not send reporters to the NBA Finals or the World Series. They send them to the Super Bowl because this is the biggest single media sports event in the world.
Still, the lack of fan interactivity has made me feel very foreign in this environment. I am, for all intents and purposes, a "journalist" while I am here. That is something I do not feel comfortable being, and have often told others I am not. I'll admit, it's fun to talk to guys like Joseph Addai. He's a very cool dude; very calm, easy fella. He looks you in the eye when you ask him questions and he answers it as best he can. Same with Antoine Bethea. Answers, while sometimes generic, were not blown off as a waste of time.
It would be nice if such genuine sincerity, such immediate access, involved fans in the process and not just players and media.
I have other observations after the jump. Read and enjoy them.
- Of the 80 or so so questions Dwight Freeney answered on Media Day, 65 of them were about his ankle. Yes, someone kept count.
- Freeney looked jovial, happy, and vibrant. His attitude was very positive about playing. I don't see how anyone thought he was suggesting he wouldn't play. People asked him questions such as "What if you can't play?" and he answered them pretty matter-of-factly. But, I never got the sense that Dwight has given up on playing this weekend.
- Peyton Manning was the first one at his station. 70 people were crowded around him. The guy's forehead is bigger in person.
- Peyton and I are eye level.
- I asked Joseph Addai about Dominic Rhodes and if the absence of Dom had forced him to be be more of a mentor or leader in this Super Bowl as opposed to the last one. He told me he has helped tutor Donald Brown and Mike Hart in a similar way that Dom helped him as a young player.
- Dallas Clark got slightly annoyed with someone who asked him f he could give a Super Bowl ticket to anyone, living or dead, who would it be.
- Anthony Gonzalez seems like a good guy, but he strikes me as a bit awkward and uncomfortable in social or media settings. He's not a jerk or anything like that. He just seems a bit tense and uncomfortable. He was walking around fine during the event, and, when asked, he said it has been very hard just watching the team and not playing.
- Pat McAfee is every bit the joker and comedian we thought he was. Teammates seem to like him. When the punter is joking around with a starting linebacker, the team is a tight unit.
- Jim Caldwell suggested that the fact that not much has been made of the fact that he is the fourth different African American coach in four seasons to coach in a Super Bowl is progress.
- Dwight Freeney's foot did not look bad from my vantage point.
- Some weirdo in a Viking costume, or something along those lines, tried to shout questions at Gary Brackett. Gary ignored the dude.
- John Clayton is a fast jogger.
- The food they served between Media Day sessions was garbage. I wouldn't feed it to a dog. Kind of tells you what the NFL thinks of media. At least it was free. So, I can't really complain.
- Media were getting very pissy when Media Day started 20 minutes late.
- I asked Robert Mathis if he enjoyed playing in Larry Coyer's defense over previous defenses with the Colts. He answered that the Colts attack more, and everyone loves to attack. He also acknowledged that both defenses have their "ups and downs," but I got the sense Mathis enjoys attacking more than anything else.
- Mathis also told me he loves sacking Tom Brady, and he said it with a gigantic grin on his face.
- I asked Gary Brackett if he thought he "bucked the trend," the under-sized guys can succeed at linebacker. Gary cited players before him as proof that the trend was always "bucked," such as Zack Thomas ans the late,great Sam Mills.
- Colts defensive players really like Larry Coyer. Clint Session glowed when he spoke of Coyer. Session's story of Coyer putting on James Brown music prior to a "big game" and dancing to it was priceless.
- Antoine Bethea was my favorite Colt to interview.
- Jeff Saturday should consider politics. The dude commands your attention with every word he says.
I'll probably have more thoughts on Media Day as they bubble through my brain tonight. Tomorrow morning, I'll be at the Colts hotel bright and early (8am) for their press conferences and media sessions. Follow my quick updates on Twitter at @stampedeblue.