On Tuesday morning, the sports media world centered itself on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Super Bowl Media Day, with the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers diving into the day's orgy of interviews on the stadium floor.
Media from all over the world were present to ask players the tough and not so tough questions. Journalists from other countries not familiar with football stats or standings asked towering athletes about their diets or their tattoos, or threw them generalized softball questions about game strategies.
There was a fella from Univision in a wrestling mask, a California samurai, Katherine Webb, Chris Berman and a rodeo clown making the rounds on the field at the Superdome. Newfound celeb babe Webb was rumored to be coached through most of her interviews the whole morning, with questions pumped into her ear through an earpiece. Who knows if that was true.
Boston Globe columnist and Houston Texans Enemy Number One Dan Shaughnessy was also in attendance. I forgot to ask him about the Patriots' loss to the Ravens two weeks back.
Super Bowl Media Day is when a narrative for the match-up begins to gel for the rest of the world. The Harbowl, Kaepernick's unlikely rise to fame, Ray Lewis's outsized personality -- these things were all on parade.
Yes, I was also sick of the term Harbowl three minutes after the Ravens beat the Pats a few weeks back.
The biggest story of the day was Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis's alleged use of a "deer antler spray" -- which contains an active growth hormone -- to recover from a tricep tear earlier this season.
He sat perched on his podium for nearly two hours gospel-preaching his own gospel when not answering questions about his faith and his legendary career. He plans to retire after Sunday's game. He refused to go any heavier into the HGH debacle beyond saying it wasn't worth his time.
Ravens safety Bernard Pollard elaborated on his previous remarks about the future of the NFL for journalists, reiterating that the way regulations are going, the NFL will be all but extinct in three decades.
"Things are going to happen; we as football players know what we signed up for," said Pollard.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick's session got noticeably uncomfortable when journos pressed him about his birth parents. Otherwise he praised his teammates and coaches for believing in him, smiling and staying humble under his trademark flat bill cap. He spoke plenty about his own devout Christian faith, his favorite scriptures and how his fame is treating him.
"Three months ago I could go anywhere; now it's a little bit harder," he said.
Meanwhile Alex Smith, who held the 49ers QB job in San Fran until he was benched for Kaepernick late in the season, deflected talk of he himself requesting a release from the team.
"I don't know where this stuff comes from. I'm focused on this game and helping this team win a championship and doing whatever I can do," said Smith. "That stuff can wait; there is plenty of time for that in a week."
Jim and John Harbaugh were repeatedly asked about coaching against one another on Sunday, digging out old antidotes for reporters and laughing off any talk of a heated sibling rivalry. They seemed weary, but both voiced excitement at getting their teams in line for the big game.
Former Houston Texans player and current Raven return specialist Jacoby Jones mugged for the cameras, easily the most animated player at Media Day. He had a constant stream of lenses in his face nearly the entire time he was on the field, even fielding questions from CBS's Mo Rocca about mashed potatoes and touchdown dances.
When asked about his former team and the fans in Houston, he had little to say beyond still being markedly aggravated by the rough treatment he received by the local media after that fumbled ball in the Texans' AFC Divisional Playoff game back in January 2012. Against the Ravens, nonetheless.
On Wednesday, I expect more and more fans to swarm into New Orleans as anticipation for Sunday's game continues to build all over town. Cabs are about to get a hell of a lot more expensive/scarce, I fear.
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