AP Explains: The three-ring circus of Super Bowl Media Day
PHOENIX (AP) — Media Day at the Super Bowl is unlike any other media day — or any other event, for that matter.
Though the primary purpose still is to help journalists do their jobs, Super Bowl Media Day has morphed into a spectacle of its own, a three-ring circus filled with wild antics, costumes, obscure questions some ornery answers and the occasional marriage proposal (we’ll get into that later).
A rundown of what makes Super Bowl Media Day so unique heading into Tuesday’s version in Arizona:
Media Day started with the first Super Bowl, won by no-nonsense coach Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers in 1967.
During the first few years of Media Day, reporters often went to players hotel rooms to interview them. At the 1969 Super Bowl, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath chatted with reporters while sitting poolside.
In the early 1970s, news outlets started sending large teams of journalists to cover media day, a trend that continues today.
The irreverence associated with Super Bowl Media Day began to pick up at the 1975 Super Bowl in New Orleans, where two players not playing in the game, Fred Dryer and Lance Rentzel, showed up dressed as reporters and started asking silly questions.
While there are plenty of journalists asking game-related questions, numerous others flock to Media Day to ask off-the-wall questions or to get their moment in the spotlight.
Comedy Central has sent comedians to ask questions at Media and pre-teen “reporters” have been dispatched by TV channels like Nickelodeon and Disney. The Letterman Show and Tonight Show have sent reporters to ask questions that have nothing to do with the game.
Some dress up for the occasion, like the reporter from Denmark who dressed up like Waldo last year and the female reporter from a Mexican TV station who wore a wedding dress and asked New England’s Tom Brady 2008 in if he would marry her.
Some players embrace Media Day, having fun with it or seeing it as a chance to gain exposure.
Shannon Sharpe, a loquacious tight end for Denver and Baltimore, always shined at Media Day and had a memorable back-and-forth with Atlanta cornerback Ray Buchanan in 1999. Buchanan showed up to that Media Day wearing a dog collar — emphasizing the Falcons being underdogs — and called Sharpe “Mr. Ed,” after the horse in the old TV show.
New England’s Rob Gronkowski and Seattle’s Richard Sherman figure to be headliners this year.
Of course, there are always players who want nothing do with talking to the media.
At 1994 Media Day in Atlanta, Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett sweated profusely and said he couldn’t breathe before breaking off his session after 11 minutes.
Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, a notorious media avoider, spent most of last year’s session hiding behind a teammate. He was fined $100,000 this season for failing to fulfill media obligations, so there’s a good chance he’ll clam up again at this year’s event.
A sign of how big Super Bowl Media Day has become? Fans can now buy tickets to watch the mayhem.
About 7,000 fans showed up last year and this year tickets are available for $28.50 to watch the proceedings in downtown Phoenix at the US Airways Center, home of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL