Super Bowl XLIX: Media day madness

Media day brings out everything from mascots to cheerleaders and even a man dressed in a barrel. If it’s not hype, it’s not the NFL.

Super Bowl media day offers a little of everything for everyone – from those truly interested in football and the Super Bowl to those that just want to have fun poking fun at just about various and sundry topics on the floor where the Phoenix Suns play, US Airways Arena.

The floor was packed with media from the United States and abroad – from reporters from Brazil to Seattle Seahawks cheerleaders interviewing their own players to NFL Network analysts occasionally dipping into the interviews to comedians with microphones to one man without a shirt and sporting a barrel from his chest on down.

Wait, what?

Sure, why not? The “mascot” from KNIX radio station in Phoenix has been making appearances in the community for nine years, so of course he wasn’t going to pass up the chance to draw attention to the radio station and himself on a day when the sports world was intent on the preparations for the Super Bowl – or just mocking them.

“You get to do really cool things like Media Day, but also get to do truly impactful things like raising canned food for the food banks, helping out fallen first responders, that kind of stuff. So it’s kind of cool, you know. I get to do it and I get to make people smile,” said the man inside the barrel.

On a day that attracted so many media that it was difficult to move around on floor or arena, the players from the Seahawks and New England Patriots were drinking it in, many of them familiar with the routine from their respective successes. NBC Sports cameraman Karim Mendiburu Contreras wandered around with Go-Pro cameras affixed to a helmet and shoulder pads he was wearing. There was Pick Boy, a character Nickelodeon. And surely there were others flying more below the radar.

Sure, there were football questions and those chasing the Deflategate storyline that has followed the New England Patriots since most of the footballs in the AFC Championship Game were found to be under-inflated beyond NFL guidelines. But there were so many more important topics to explore from the players.

A sampling of the greatest (or worst) hits from Tuesday’s media day:

  • We learned that not all the players have the same picks for the best and worst on their teams. Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell believes Alfonzo Dennard is the best dancer on the team.

    “Every time we have a road game, we have music playing at practice; I don’t care if you have everybody standing still, he will be in the middle of the field dancing,” LaFell said.

    TE Rob Gronkowski called out Julian Edelman as the worst dancer on the team, along with naming himself the best dancer.

  • Patriot QB Tom Brady believes Rob Ninkovich has the best beard on the team. “There are some good ones. Ninkovich has got a pretty good beard. Jules (Julian Edelman) has a great beard going right now,” Brady said.

    And Brady enlightened one reporter that it hurts to be sacked, sometimes. “The hard parts are where you land on your shoulder or get a helmet to the back, so any of those hurt,” he said.

  • Questions of relevance and irrelevance were lobbed in every direction. Hard-hitting types will be pleased to uncover the favorite pregame music for several players. Brady likes Jay-Z. Seahawks safety Earl Thomas prefers Drake. Luther Vandross is the choice of LaFell.

    “Whatever slow jams that are really hot at the time; I listen to those to calm me back down before the game,” he said, adding that rap music gets him too wired before a game.

  • Gronkowski is now apparently considered a sex symbol among cats.

    “He’s become a sex symbol with some kittens. It’s crazy. Whoever thought that some furry little cats would’ve created a sex symbol, go figure,” Patriots running back Shane Vereen said.

    “We just laugh. It’s part of who he is. We take it with a grain of salt and just keep on moving forward – probably print some pictures out, put them around the locker room, throw some in his locker – just let him know that we see it.”

  • But off-topic didn’t always venture into the land of the silly. Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones talked about his older brother Jon Bones Jones being a UFC champion.

    “There’s a bit of competitive nature in that both of my brothers are champions and I’m not,” Chandler Jones said. “I’m not trying to really focus on that. My biggest focus is on Sunday.”

  • Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork talked about saving a woman from an overturned car after the AFC Championship.

    “I saw somebody that needed help. My parents taught me a long, long time ago to treat people the way you want to be treated,” he said. “One thing I thought about was that could have easily been my family turned over in the car and I hope people would do the same thing for me. So, there was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to pass that and call somebody and say, ‘Hey, somebody’s here.’ I think everybody would do the same thing.”

    Media day definitely brought out an immense variety of topics and more media than many would like to tolerate. Add to that thousands of fans allowed to be in attendance in the stands and cheering at certain answers while dozens of interviews were being conducted at once. It created quite the frenzy and a heaping helping of hard-to-hear questions and answers for players and reporters.

    Vereen, for one, is a fan of media day.

    “I think it lightens the mood. I think it’s good because you’ve got to be prepared for all types of questions, not necessarily questions about football. It lightens the mood and it’s kind of fun,” he said.

    “I was asked earlier how many times I was going to be ineligible this game. I thought that was pretty funny. That was well-deserved.”

    Even the barrel boy didn’t mind trying to navigate the crowds from one interview station to the next.

    “It’s not bad actually at all. You’re kind of like a fullback,” he said. “You just start lowering and you go right on through, bro.”

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