(One of our regular commenters on the ESPNBoston.com Patriots blog, "Clark12to81", was present at Tuesday's Super Bowl XLVI media day festivities. He writes about the experience.)
Normally I’m just your average ordinary Patriots fan, living in Indiana. But on Tuesday, along with 4,999 other lucky fans, I got to make NFL history. For the first time since the Super Bowl began 46 years ago, the NFL opened its doors so fans could experience media day.
This is one lucky fan's experience:
Upon arrival to Lucas Oil Stadium, each fan was greeted with a warm smile from local friendly volunteers and handed a Super Bowl gift bag. The complimentary bag alone was easily worth the $25 admission fee. The contents of the bag contained a copy of NFL Magazine, one pack of Score football trading cards, one NFL 2011 sticker book, NFL mouse pad, and, most importantly, a live sports radio.
The radio, the size of a 50-cent piece, fit comfortably to the ear. It was easy to use with only three basic functions -- up, down and volume.
The Patriots were the first team to take the field at 10 a.m.. One hour was placed on the clock and media day was officially underway. The scoreboard displayed video of the six channels available.
As a longtime fan of the Patriots, I have seen and read hundreds, if not thousands, of player and coaches interviews. Seeing it live in-person was an entirely different experience.
I tried listening to a little bit of everyone -- Bill Belichick giving the history of the cut-off hoodie, Rob Gronkowski and his favorite TV shows, Jerod Mayo and his leadership ... and then I got to Tom Brady. It was very hard to flip away from Brady, who seemed to bring his "A" game to Indianapolis. He takes charm and charisma to a whole new level.
My favorite Brady moment came while he was being questioned by Brett Keisel of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady interrupted, before saying, "Hey, didn’t you strip sack me about nine weeks ago?" Then, after answering Keisel’s question, Brady pointed and ordered, "Now you stay out of my backfield!"
Both Brady and Belichick continued answering questions after the hour had ended.
There was a one-hour intermission, which sent media members hustling to write stories and record bits for TV, then it was time for the Giants' session.
I spent most of that hour listening to Eli Manning and the media’s relentless assault of questions about Peyton Manning. At first, the Peyton questions were expected, then it got humorous. After about a half an hour I just felt bad for Eli. I felt the day was supposed to be about Eli and the Giants. But to Eli’s credit he answered each and every question honestly, with a smile and without hesitation.
The three hours flew by so fast it could only mean one thing -- I was having a blast. What probably seemed like an eternity to players and coaches, standing in front of so many media members and 5,000 curious fans, flew by in an instant for me.
I believe fan admittance to media day will become a huge hit among fans in Super Bowl cities for years to come. I would like to thank Mike Reiss for attempting to meet me during such a busy day for the media. I would also like to thank the NFL and Lucas Oil Stadium for the experience of a lifetime and letting me be a part of NFL history.