31 Jan 2013
As usual, the buzz around the Super Bowl escalated drastically on Thursday. Seemingly the entire NFL stopped by the media center at some point. The NFL Fan Experience recently opened up, which means the streets near the convention center are flooded with families in Saints jerseys. On every block there are at least three police officers. Barricades separate the sidewalks and streets, which hopefully has a lot of unseen safety benefits that offset the enormous inconveniences it’s causing.
This afternoon, the Beyonce press conference happened. Unlike the perfectly prompt players and coaches press conferences, this one started some 20 minutes late. (That made it fashionable.) It was full of entertainment reporters. At pressers, the entertainment reporters come across as absolute clowns when compared to sportswriters. A typical question from them is preceded by at least two or three sentences of self-important fawning. (Hi Beyonce, Joe So-and-so from Whatever Network. In my opinion, you’re as hot as any star in music right now. You look beautiful, you sing amazingly, how happy are you to be singing the Siuper Bowl halftime show?)
As Geoff Mosher from CSN tweeted afterwards, "Hierarchy of "journalists at SB: 1. Sports writers; 2. Clowns; 3. Hot Latin chicks; 4. Artie Lange; 5. Entertainment reporters." Perfect.
Beyonce was pretty cool. She opened the press conference with a live, definitely-not-prerecorded, rendition of the National Anthem.
The people-watching is generally the best part of Super Bowl week. Last night, Tanier and I sat in the Hilton Bar and had a discussion that I’d like FO readers to join in on: which three people in the NFL would draw the biggest crowd if they walked into one of these hotel lobbies or into the media center? Before you answer, understand that the biggest draws are not simply the most famous players. For example, Jerry Rice was sitting in the lobby yesterday when I had lunch, and during that half hour not one person approached him. Mike Ditka, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to walk five feet without being asked to shake hands or sign something.
Certainly legendary players draw a bigger crowd than role players or semi-stars. (Marcellus Wiley was in the lobby last night and was only approached by one poor schmuck who asked him what it feels like to get hit by someone as big as him.) But so many of the legends lose their mystique by being on TV each week or by appearing in so many television ads. Rice, in a lot of ways, is "just a guy" around these parts. So is Emmitt Smith (his bumpy ESPN tenure hurt his image big time). Ditka is on TV a bunch but, for whatever reason, people flock to him. People also flock to some of the media guys. (Chris Berman, mainly.)
So who in football would be the biggest show stoppers when entering a room? It’d be someone who is legendary, but somewhat reclusive. The guys Tanier and I came up with are Lawrence Taylor, Joe Namath, and Jim Brown. Maybe Bill Parcells; when he’s not coaching, he’s nowhere to be found at the Senior Bowl, Combine, Super Bowl, and so on. Brett Favre might be in that category because he’s been in Mississippi this past year. Maybe Tim Tebow? He’s obviously on TV a lot, but at Super Bowl 46 in Indy, he was the only athlete who had a security detail with him at radio row. That’s a mark of major fame; the other celebs who had security detail last year were Adam Sandler, Jenny McCarthy, Madonna, and Jamie Foxx. So far today, only Tracy Morgan has had a security detail –- and it was a small one.
Tanier suggested maybe Joe Montana. However, he’s such a dull personality that it’s hard to fathom an over-the-top reaction for him. Two years ago at the Super Bowl in Dallas, he went through radio row and hardly anyone even noticed.
It takes a certain type of fame to really turn heads in an environment like this. If you have any suggestions for which living pro football stars might do it, please share.
23 comments, Last at 02 Feb 2013, 7:20pm by Jerry
Our offseason Four Downs series continues with a division-by-division look at each team's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. Does anyone in the NFC South have any pass rushers? Well, the Bucs might, but they still need more players to catch the ball.