x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Super Bowl diary - Handling a very demanding week

There is an art to autograph hunting. Years ago you could mill about the players' hotel and easily snag a signature from a player in the lobby. Now security is too tough.

Both the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers got in to Tampa on Monday. The squads are using local football fields to run through light training sessions leading up to the game. Media can come and watch the preparations, fans cannot. The Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner has played in the Super Bowl before, unlike most of his teammates.

He knows about the circus that is Super Bowl week. "It's crazy," Warner said. "You are going to be pulled in a million different directions. There is media everywhere. The more uptight you get with it, the less you enjoy it. If you don't want to sign autographs, stay in your room."

It is a great topic that Warner brings up. Among the activities for fans this week is autograph hunting. There is an art to this. Years ago you could mill about the players' hotel and easily snag a signature from a player in the lobby. Now security is too tough. The players' hotel is totally off limits. The best spot these days is near the media centre. Each year the radio/Television/print media have a large facility in the host city to broadcast shows from. If you stood around the entrance on Monday you would have seen the New England Patriots' Matt Cassell and the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers coming in for interviews and talking about what they will think on Sunday when Arizona and Pittsburgh finally get to do their talking on the pitch.

However, some fans ruin the autograph game for others. When you see a fan walk up to Peyton Manning, the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, with eight things to sign, you know that fan is going to put it all on EBAY. When this happens, players get frustrated and walk off leaving the traditional fans autographless?.if that's a word. Sometimes during our radio show, there will be a crowd of a thousand people or more when a big-name guest is on set.

On Monday when Aaron Rodgers was with us, a fan waved me over and politely asked me if I could get a football signed for his son. He may have been lying. The autograph may have been for him, but he was polite. Rodgers did sign it. There is always a way.

The Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was not pleased with the Gatorade shower he received after the AFC title game ("I am not a proponent," he said to local Pittsburgh media afterwards). He quickly turned after being doused to see which players were part of the prank. He said he had made a mental note to remember the culprits. Yesterday, one of them stepped forward - the defensive end Nick Eason. And he ratted out his partner, linebacker Arnold Harrison, who is on injured reserve. "I'm pretty sure [Tomlin will] have something for me at some point in time, if he remembers," Eason said. "You can kind of tell he was kind of looking for [the shower]. His face was facing the sideline, watching everybody. But, as soon as he turned his back, we got him."

So If the Steelers win on Sunday, it will be interesting to see if Tomlin stays dry.

"I just figure we're going to hit and then we'll both get up. I don't worry about one of us not getting up. My wife does, but I tell her, 'As long as I'm the one doing the hitting, I should be OK.'" The Steelers hard-hitting safety Ryan Clark when asked if he fears paralysis when he delivers a hit on another player. ppabst@thenational.ae