(INDIANAPOLIS) — The annual carnival of journalistic schlock, Super Bowl Media Day, unfolded in Indianapolis on Tuesday, and usual, the players gamely tolerated questions from characters like Pick Boy, the caped correspondent from Nickelodeon. Here are five of the weirder moments from this year’s event.
1. Swarms of Fans
For the first time ever, the NFL opened up media day to fans. Some 7,000 people shelled out $25 for the privilege of watching, from the seats of Lucas Oil Stadium, reporters ask inane questions of the Super Bowl participants. While waiting for the Patriots players to arrive, fans were treated to a barely audible interview with an NFL operations executive playing on the stadium scoreboard. “Let’s review the podium assignments,” bellowed the public address announcer before the players arrived on the field.
It’s hard to imagine a duller spectator event. But as a testament to the power of the NFL, and the earnestness of the Midwestern crowd, most fans seemed to walk away from Media Day as satisfied customers. For example, they had the ability to listen in on individual interviews with headphones. “It’s just nice to be in the same room as the players,” says Nolan Hahn, 21, who made the two-hour drive from Cincinnati to attend. “It’s football,” says Bo Mobley, 36, a Colts fan from Indianapolis. “And it’s the last game of the year. I want to be involved, absolutely.”
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2. Tom Brady: He’ll Be Here All Week
Once Tom Brady realized that the Indianapolis crowd was listening in on his interview, the typically bland star quarterback started to loosen up a bit. “This is so cool that they can hear me,” Brady said. When asked to name a perk of being Tom Brady – as if winning three Super Bowls and being married to a Brazilian supermodel aren’t enough – the Patriots quarterback bragged about how, the night before, the Indianapolis police let him drive the wrong way down a one-way street in order to park for dinner. The crowd laughed appreciatively, like a sitcom studio audience. “See, they love that,” Brady remarked, looking out at the crowd. Another reporter astutely noticed that Brady’s interview podium was on the 28-yard line, the spot where Bill Belichick infamously went for it on a 4th-and-2 late in a 2009 game, even though the Patriots were up by six points and stuck deep in their own territory. The Pats failed to convert, and the Colts scored a touchdown to win. “Let me move over a few feet, to get to the 27,” Brady responded. More laughter. This guy is killing.
One of the stars of last year’s media day, heavily-bearded Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Brett Keisel, was now a member of the journalism horde since Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos eliminated his team in the Wild Card round. He asked Brady if he had ever grown his beard out. “You ever lose anything in there?” Brady asked, referring to Keisel’s facial hair. After going back and forth briefly, Keisel wished Brady well. “Just stay our of our backfield,” Brady told Keisel. If Brady can work over Giants defense on Super Bowl Sunday like he worked the Indy crowd on Media Day, the Pats will cruise.
3. Ochocinco, Toned Down
When Chad Ochocinco is not playing in the Super Bowl, he usually gobbles up Media Day attention anyway, interviewing players as the head of his fledgling media empire, the Ochocinco News Network (OCNN). So you’d think that when Ochocinco was finally a part of a Super Bowl team, it would be a glorious moment for the extroverted wide receiver. But there was Ochocinco on Media Day, quietly mingling with the masses, since he was not seated at one of the 18 podium spots reserved for New England’s key players. Those positions rarely go to backup wide receivers who see little action come game-time, and sadly, Ochocinco’s lack of production had reduced him to such a small role. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew took Ochocinco’s place as lead OCNN correspondent, though don’t be surprised to find Ochocinco back next year: he may become a full-time member of the media sooner than people expected.
4. Steven Tyler?
A producer from County Music Television was hustling around the field, asking any available player, even guys on the practice squad, to say: “Steven Tyler, you rock.” One guy, New England Patriots practice squad offensive lineman Matt Kopa, tried to three different versions. Apparently, the Aerosmith front-man and American Idol judge will be singing with Carrie Underwood at an Indianapolis concert on Feb. 4, the night before the game, that will air on CMT. And if there’s one thing on the mind of Super Bowl participants days before the big game, it’s a Steven Tyler-Carrie Underwood concert.
5. Super Salsa.
Finally, NewsFeed would like to thank the Telemundo reporter who held up a disco ball and asked people to salsa for sparing us in the dance number. It would have been ugly.
Watch a video preview of the Super Bowl below.