NEWARK, N.J. — The day began with a police escort, a group singing Motown songs, the Rutgers marching band, a dozen Chris Christie protesters and a putz wearing a cape and tights.
And Regis Philbin.
What's your prediction for the game, Regis?
"Denver 24-17. AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT!"
It was media day. Of course it was.
Media day is often raw silliness, mixed with a helping of douchebaggery, sprinkled with horse's ass.
Like the dude from Denmark dressed in his pajamas.
"Have you ever bitten anyone in a pileup?" Broncos lineman Sylvester Williams was asked.
Possible worst question ever was: "Who has the smelliest farts in the locker room?" I mean, c'mon. Really? Really?
When Richard Sherman was asked something about strippers, it was officially time to go.
One of the funnier stories from the day was Terrance Knighton explaining how he got the name "Pot Roast." He was on a team flight his rookie year when the attendant walked down the aisle asking if anyone wanted pot roast. Knighton eagerly said yes and a nickname was born.
"It was either that name," Knighton said, "or Shrimp Alfredo."
Media day is best described by something a league official once told me. Media day, he said, is the one time of the year everyone gets to act like an ass**** and there's no penalty except eye rolls.
Actually, this media day was one of the most boring I've ever covered—and one of the best. Let me explain.
Oh, sure, there was the usual tomfoolery, the usual gawking at the buttocks of a Telemundo reporter, but there was no over-the-top craziness. There was the dude dressed as Mozart. A guy dressed like a character from The Lord of the Rings.
There was the fan in the stands (third-straight year fans have been allowed to attend media day) holding a sign that said: "Wes Welker's weave is mediocre at best." It was signed, "Richard Sherman." And I never found out why Denver's Danny Trevathan was holding a teddy bear while one of the players was asked to hold a UFC title belt.
About the only controversy—that word is used lightly—was media-phobe Marshawn Lynch walking away from questioners after approximately six minutes. That may be a land-sea record for media evasion.
The media is often highly successful at baiting players into stating really dumb things. Not this time (mostly, at least). The closest was Deion Sanders trying to goad Welker into saying he'd take on Seattle's Sherman one-on-one from the slot. Welker didn't so much take the bait as he did bat it around like a cat chasing string.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he was bothered by the fact that Sherman, in that infamous postgame rant, called himself the best corner in the game. I mean, that controversy is so made up it should be categorized as science fiction.
A crowd of media that could populate a small town surrounded Sherman (the crowd around Manning wasn't exactly tiny). He was calm and intelligent as he often is when not being interviewed seconds after a game. Such a thug, that Sherman.
Lynch, who doesn't normally give extensive interviews, didn't have his own podium—which is highly unusual for a player of his star quality. But since he bolted early, we now see why.
What actually made this media day interesting was that there was less stupidity and actual substance. I mean, real interesting stuff was said.
If there was a winner of media day—and it frightens me there is actually a notion of a winner and loser of this pile of goo, so I apologize for use of the phrase—it was Denver. The Broncos seemed remarkably prepared for the nonsense. Coach John Fox told his players that some really dumb questions would emerge, and they seemed utterly unperturbed by the whole thing. Foxy had them totally prepped.
The NFL Network's Gil Brandt reported that instead of installing a game plan this week, the Broncos did it last week and are using this week to refine things. This is not uncommon, but most Super Bowl teams do the game-planning the week of the Super Bowl.
Fox seems to be spending a lot of time this week focusing on the non-empirical part of the game itself. Fox was, easily, one of the most interesting listens of the day. He talked a lot about one of the biggest experiences he learned from being in the Super Bowl as coach of Carolina: He watched Carolina players get amped up way too early during the long run-up. Fox says he plans to make sure that doesn't happen this time (without saying exactly how).
There were other moments of Broncos introspection. Knighton said that after the Broncos lost to San Diego in the regular season, a meeting of the defense was called, and grievances were aired. That cleansing helped them move forward.
"The whole defense got together after the game, huddled up and guys just said how they felt about how we were playing and that it was about that time we step up and peak at the right time," Knighton explained. "I told everybody how I felt. (That you) can’t just show up in the playoffs and start playing well."
How many times was Peyton Manning asked about his legacy? A lot. His best response? "I've been asked about my legacy since I was 25."
Newark elementary school students wrote notes to the media welcoming us to their city and state. It was sincere, heartwarming and lovely. The opposite of media day.
Except for you, Regis. You are lovely as well.
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