x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Super Bowl diary - Lights, cameras and questions

Tuesday was media day in Tampa. Picture all the players for both teams in the stadium, each with their own little podium, surrounded by about 1,000 members from around the country.

Tuesday was media day in Tampa. Picture all the players for both teams in the stadium, each with their own little podium, surrounded by about 1,000 members from around the country. The purpose of media day is to give every accredited journalist a chance to question any player they want. That is not the real purpose. Media day is the day reporters try to get something juicy out of a player, any player though hopefully one of the stars. Last year when the heavily favoured New England Patriots were at media day with the underdogs New York Giants, a media member coaxed Giants' receiver Plaxico Burress into "guaranteeing" that the Giants would shock the world and win the Super Bowl. It worked and that gave the press fodder for the next three days.

Today has been tame by comparison. The Cardinals' quarterback has been the main attraction, but he played it smart. He said a lot while saying nothing. The depressing part of media day is looking at the backup players off to the side with no reporters around them. These guys have worked just as hard to get there, but nobody is in a rush to talk to the third string tight end. The legendary media day story comes from Super Bowl XXII. Doug Williams, who is African-American, was the quarterback of the Washington Redskins. We all knew the importance of Doug being the first African-American to start a Super Bowl game. Legend has it that one reporter asked Williams "how long have you been a black quarterback?" There is no tape of the question being asked and when Williams came on "The Dan Patrick Show" last year he refused to confirm or deny that the question was ever asked of him. He liked that it will always be Super Bowl urban legend.

On our radio show we talked to former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn. Quinn is known for his power physique and we asked him if he could bench press Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth who tips the scales at about 360llb. Quinn paused for a second and said "Yeah, I think I could bench him." Dungy on the other hand was more serious. He recently stepped down from a very successful run with the Colts where he won the Super Bowl two years ago. We asked him if he would have retired if he did not have that Super Bowl ring and if he would coach again. "Yes, it wouldn't have changed my decision," Dungy replied. "As far as coaching again, I would be surprised if I get back in it. Never rule anything out, but I would be surprised."

"I would just rush the quarterback all day. No coverage, no other responsibilities. Just turn me loose man." - The Steelers linebacker James Harrison when asked what would be the ideal gameplan for him on Sunday.

ppabst@thenational.ae