By this afternoon, some of you already will be sick of the Super Bowl.
Those repulsed by the ever-amping hype will find it hard to avoid video clips of some inane question, witless answer or absurd circumstance connected to today’s annual Media Day.
Understandable. Back when I first started covering Super Bowls, I recall having a snooty attitude about this day. That’s when I thought it was a time to be professional and offer probing questions in search of insightful answers from thoughtful athletes.
Silly boy. This is not about that at all; it’s the day when the NFL credentials practically anybody with a recording device and grants them access to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.
It’s annoying, off-putting and a little insulting.
Yet this is also pure genius. It’s all a part of the mechanism the NFL has used to turn a football game into an international event.
This is the day when the normally conservative gatekeepers open the door to all the “entertainment” stations to reach a huge and varied constituency around the globe – including those who don’t normally give a rip about sports. While some of us object to the hint of buffoonery, it plays to a big crowd.
The trick is to understand that very little of what you see will have any bearing on what happens when the game kicks off Sunday. This is the cartoon before the movie.
Go with it. Chuckle. Move on.
I always liked to believe readership would benefit from a column about a player’s motivations and perspectives as he approaches the most important game of his career. I’ve worked 13 of these things, and it took me a while to catch on that this day is different.
I discovered that people the next morning were actually asking each other if they had seen the video of a vacuous bimbette from a Mexican TV station who showed up in a revealing wedding dress to ask Tom Brady if he would marry her in 2008.
Absurd, right? I dismissed her act as a ridiculous sideshow. But chances are that many thousands of non-typical sports viewers who had never heard of Tom Brady caught the clip, tuned in on Sunday, and in the process were subsequently compelled to consume specific brands of corn chips, or switch to insurance represented by indignant cavemen and a smooth-talking lizard.
On Monday morning they might not remember which team won the game, but they’ll ask their colleague in the next cubicle if they saw the commercial where the horses played football and the zebra served as referee.
Maybe the trick is to view today’s exposure to players and staff as a social Rorschach test. What can we learn of them by the manner in which they cope?
In the case of Brady, it would have been worth noting the way he coolly declined the proposal by offering a compliment about how any man who ended up with the reporter would consider himself fortunate.
He was unexpectedly put on the spot, but stayed light on his feet and slipped free with smiles all around. And, any analyst of human nature would have noted that within minutes of being rejected by Brady, the reporter appeared quite happy to be carried around in the arms of one of the New England offensive linemen.
The symbiosis is clear. The lineman’s job is to provide protection that keeps Brady’s toothy smile undamaged, and in return, well, there are worse things than being in position to sort through Brady’s cast-offs.
We may note that the players are very agreeable to the appeal of this day. They videotape the experience and are only too willing to comply with each request.
The NFL, meanwhile, returns to business the rest of the week, providing extraordinary access to players in serious and professional settings that allow the most fervent fan to gorge on non-stop information.
This league gets a few things wrong. I mean, the sham that is the Pro Bowl, once and for all, has got to go ... that little fox trot the linemen do instead of blocking and tackling has gotten too ridiculous to be perpetuated.
But they’ve got the Super Bowl figured out. And as much as some of us may be turned away by the spectacle, media day is a part of it.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org