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Media circus takes center stage



Published: Wed, January 29, 2014 @ 12:05 a.m.

Associated Press

Newark, N.j.

Internet star Lil Terrio danced with cheerleaders, an Austrian man dressed as Mozart, another guy wore a Waldo costume and Nickelodeon’s Pick Boy was in the house.

Welcome to Media Day, the annual Super Bowl circus.

It seems fitting this event was held at a hockey rink, of all places, because there’s nothing ordinary about it. More than 6,000 journalists, pseudo-journalists and other credentialed “media” from all over the world gathered at the home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils on Tuesday to meet the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Strange questions were the norm instead of football ones. A man asked Seahawks center Max Unger if he could touch his long, scruffy beard. He said yes. A woman asked Seahawks defensive lineman Brandon Mebane for a kiss. He said no.

Perhaps the only player who felt at home was Seattle tight end Luke Wilson. He grew up in Canada, played hockey through his sophomore year of high school and was genuinely psyched to be in an NHL arena.

“I thought it was kind of cool to be here,” said Wilson, a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. “I was a left winger, grinding forward-type of guy. I have two brothers and we would play on the street in front of the house, go to spring camps, played all the time. I played a lot of hockey.”

Asked if any of his teammates could lace up the skates, Wilson was brutally honest: “No, definitely not. No way.”

Unger, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound lineman, played roller hockey long before he packed on the pounds for a career in the NFL.

“This is an awesome venue, seems like a great place to play hockey,” he said. “I watch a little bit of hockey. We have the Vancouver Canucks up the road.”

Coincidentally, while football players spent their day at the rink, a couple of New York hockey teams prepared to play an outdoor game at Yankee Stadium. The Rangers and Islanders will continue the NHL’s Stadium Series in the Bronx tonight.

Seahawks defensive end Benson Mayowa isn’t a fan of the sport, but he appreciates the toughness of hockey players.

“Only thing I like to watch in hockey is fights,” he said. “But they do get physical, they lose teeth, get stitched up and come back out there. It’s the same as football.”

But hockey has nothing like this on its calendar.

The Media Day extravaganza is one of the wildest scenes in sports. Even current football players were in on the “reporting” action. Eagles Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson co-hosted a show for BET. Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel interviewed players for a shampoo promotion.

“This is pretty crazy, man. Pretty crazy,” Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson said. “I saw Waldo. I saw the superhero. They told us there were going to be people dressed up, but you never really know what to expect until you see them.”

Manning and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman were surrounded by the biggest throng of reporters. Manning deftly evaded questions about his “legacy” and Sherman was so eager to talk that he showed up early for his 60-minute session.

Several players captured the craziness on video. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many players who may never get another chance to play in a Super Bowl.


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