NEWARK, N.J. — You knew it was the obligatory madness of Super Bowl Media Day — fueled by Gatorade, of course — when Moritz Lang of Sky Germany stuck a microphone in the face of the beautiful dyed blond in the very revealing knit dress who, being a TV lady, had a microphone of her own.
What this had to do with Richard Sherman trying to bat down passes thrown by Peyton Manning is unclear at the moment. First to the lady in the knit dress, one of more than 5,000 of us who were credentialed for the biggest sporting event in creation, Super Bowl XLVIII.
There will be no reference to “ultimate game,” because you may recall back in the early 1970s a correspondent breathlessly asked Dallas Cowboys running back Duane Thomas, notoriously anti-media, if he were excited about “playing in the ultimate game.”
“Is this is the ultimate game,” said Thomas in what for him was a lengthy response, “why are they playing it next year?”
What the woman in the knit dress, Mariana Gonzalez of Azteca TV and her compatriot, Ines Sainz, in jeans so fitted they could have been painted on, were playing was a game as old as media days.
They were out to attract almost as much attention as the athletes. And they succeeded. But who wouldn’t rather talk to a lovely woman than a 300-pound offensive lineman?
In the long ago, Media Day, the Tuesday of Super Bowl week, was the first chance journalists and others of similar pursuits, whether through the printed word of electronically, had at the competing teams. Now interviews begin two days earlier.
So, the NFL, never disinclined to make a dollar, three years ago, turned Media Day into a bit of Hollywood-cum-Canton and sold tickets at $30 to the general public to watch the, uh spectacle is a bit too strong.
Normally the event is held at the stadium, but as everyone is aware, this is the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather area (the high at Met Life Stadium Tuesday was supposed to be 21 degrees Fahrenheit).
Thus, this one took place at Prudential Center where the NHL New Jersey Devils skate, an arena rather than a stadium.
Not much else was different, certainly. There were the little booths with small loudspeakers for those most in demand, Manning, Sherman, Champ Bailey, Russell Wilson, the coaches.
The rest of the squads — the Broncos were before lunch, the Seahawks after — were stationed behind railings, like animals in the zoo. Whether that was to keep the players from the media or the media from the players is up for discussion.
There was a huge television screen hanging from the rafters, erected solely for Media Day, and to fill time an announcer took care to point out who was in the building.
No, not Elvis, but there were some famous individuals, such as DeSean Jackson, just back from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. The mention of Jackson’s name drew a resounding boo. No surprise. He plays for the Philadelphia Eagles and many seats were filled with New York Giants fans.
The biggest media gatherings, including TV cameramen and photogs on ladders they inconveniently haul around, were for Manning at the Broncos session and later for Richard Sherman at the Seahawks.
Gatorade bottles cleverly were placed on shelves at the front of the speakers’ booths, just to make sure they would he shown in TV close-ups, and Manning, who gets paid to endorse the product, went one step further, draping a Gatorade towel over his passing shoulder.
He was his usual professional self, sloughing off questions of greatness and history. “I’ve been asked about my legacy since I was 25 years old,” Manning reminded. “I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you are 25 years old or even 37.”
When you’re Player of the Year and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, not only can you have a legacy, you are a legacy,
Most of the queries Manning faced dealt with football. Nobody had the temerity to ask about the guy dressed like a 17th Century British nobleman, maroon outfit and white wig, but Peyton did comment about his current stay in New Jersey, all two days of it.
“It’s been great so far,” said Manning. “I spent five years here. I went to dinner with an ex-neighbor from Wayne, N.J.”
Sherman, the Seahawks cornerback, has spent all his time on the West Coast, growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, attending and playing for Stanford up near San Francisco and then coming to Seattle. His shtick Tuesday was far different than moments after deflecting what might have been the game-winning pass in the NFC Championship game against San Francisco.
“Last week,” said Sherman, “I felt like I regretted attacking (49er receiver Michael Crabtree) — attacking him and taking way from my teammates. That’s the one thing that I could wish I could do again.”
There are no do-overs in sports, in games or even on Super Bowl Media Day. To borrow a line from a Sinatra song, it’s all a crazy game. And, as the Super Bowl, never the ultimate one.