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Tuesday, January 28, 2014
5 Days: Greetings from Media Day, N.J.

By Jane McManus



Each day from now until Feb. 2, ESPNNewYork.com will take you inside the challenge of staging the most unpredictable NFL title game ever. There are 5 days until the Super Bowl.

NEWARK, N.J. -- Super Bowl Media Day is like a bizarre dream. You could wander around the floor of the Prudential Center watching grownups dressed as cartoon characters go to interview athletes.

They are asked about their favorite meals, their pet peeves ... and, in one case, whether or not they can braid a reporter’s hair. It’s all in fun, a way to try to crack the surface on players as they prepare for the biggest moment of their professional lives.

Still, a serious comment or two can break through the cacophony. Richard Sherman, discussing the NFC Championship postgame interview: “I think if I’d had more time to think things over after the game it would have been better articulated. ... I definitely think it took something away from my team.”

This year, for the first time, the NFL sold Media Day tickets to fans, 7,100 of whom stood in the stands taking pictures and cheering for their favorite Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Since this was a show complete with an audience, the NFL added a halftime, featuring Broadway performers and a Bruce Springsteen cover band. Miss New Jersey was even there to answer the question, “Are you a football fan?”

Of course she is, and isn’t everyone -- at least everyone in downtown Newark, on a day the streets closed down (Chris Christie had nothing to do with it) and police officers directed traffic around the frozen zone.

It’s Super Bowl week in New York and New Jersey, and it’s quite a show.

Not necessarily the news: Marshawn Lynch may be able to defeat goal-line defenses in a single bound, but Super Bowl media day is his Kryptonite.

The Seahawks' running back, wearing sunglasses and with the hood of his jacket snugly framing his face, spoke for 6 minutes and 21 seconds in a side area usually reserved for third-stringers and practice-squadders before darting out of range of the media questions.

Later, he came back and stood sullenly leaning on a backdrop but wouldn’t answer questions. Asked if he was avoiding a fine for not fulfilling an NFL speaking obligation, Lynch nodded.

"He doesn't feel comfortable in settings like this,” coach Pete Carroll said. “And he doesn't like to do things he's told to do. Fortunately that hasn't been a factor for our football team. But in this setting he becomes something of a recluse and he doesn't want to be part of it. We try to respect him as much as we can."

At Super Bowl Media Day, the biggest story was the one player who didn’t want to be there.

Got a Super tip? Contact me at jane.mcmanus@espn.com or on Twitter @janesports.

Come back daily for more on the issues, logistics and personalities surrounding Super Bowl XLVIII.