An Intimate Gathering of Seemingly Everyone on Earth

January 28, 2014 by Peter King

NEWARK, N.J. — “Media Day” is a dumb name for what happens on Tuesdays of Super Bowl Week. Because on the Sunday through Friday before the game, the media is inundated with opportunities to talk to players and coaches, who trying 110 percent with great work ethic to say absolutely nothing of substance. Instead, it should be called “Circus Day.”

Coby Fleener came up with that. Young Fleener, the Colts’ tight end and fledgling journalist (and former college teammate of Richard Sherman), is working for The MMQB. He attended his first Media Day at the Prudential Center today, and I asked him when it was over what he thought.

“Circus,” he said. “A circus atmosphere. I have no idea how you’d get any stories out of that.”

Come now. The Middlebury (Vermont) College magazine was here, to do a story on Stephen Hauschka, the Seattle kicker who attended the school. Thomas Jefferson, in white wig, was in the house. Where’s Waldo was here, photobombing every photo op and video standup he could, leaving them with a “Where’s Waldo?!” Randy Moss was in the house for FOX, dressed sharp, yelling questions to Percy Harvin and anyone he could jostle close to … Randy Moss, who was in the Super Bowl last year and who still takes quite a lot of getting used to as a media member. And Slovenian TV reporter Neza Pavcic was here, attending her first Super Bowl, and she interviewed me not far from where Martin Brodeur regularly tends goal. (Or used to.) She was quite excited when I revealed—exclusively to her—that I once had lunch in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. And I was very glad that the people in Slovenia will see on the evening news tonight that the weather could be an issue in this year’s Super Bowl.

Those are stories right there, Mr. Fleener.

Actually, the enduring memory I’ll have from the day is watching Richard Sherman leave his podium near center-ice after his 45 minutes of queries (One: “What advice would you give Justin Bieber?”) had ended. Four or five security guys ushered him out of his area as 25 or 30 cameras jockeyed for position to shoot stills or video. Not covering a receiver—simply walking out of the arena. I was standing with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, watching. 

“Now we know who’s the king of the Super Bowl this week,” he said. “Look at that. He’s being treated like a Beatle.”

The other thing players were stunned to see: fans in the stands … watching the players being interviewed. “This is love right here, straight up,” said a perplexed Marshawn Lynch, staring up into the rafters, at the folks in the upper deck watching the scene. “They came to watch people get interviewed? This is amazing right here, man.”

The NFL has credentialed so many people, and allowed so many D-list celebs to get in (and D-list wannabes), and encouraged so many babelicious types to attend, that “Circus Day” is now what Tuesday is at the Super Bowl. It’s schticky. It’s entertainment. It’s what the NFL wants. You can find a little football, but not much. I found Seattle secondary coach Marquand Manuel and had 10 good minutes with him … but that’s only because no one else knew who he was. So we actually could talk football. An oasis! A football oasis! Talking matchups, and the intimidating factor of Kam Chancellor.

It’s the little triumphs on weirdo days like this that matter for me. That, plus Slovenia wanting to know how I enjoyed my drive through the country.

Go to The MMQB’s Super Bowl hub for all of our coverage of SB 48.

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