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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Football talk? Not at Super Bowl Media Day

By Kate Fagan

It wasn't until midway through Tuesday's Super Bowl Media Day that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady referenced the 7,000 fans seated in the stands across from his podium.

Although Brady was speaking into a microphone, his words didn't travel past the layers of media immediately surrounding him. So when his reference to the crowd was met with an explosion of cheers and applause, Brady leaned back in his seat.

"They can hear me?" He smiled, appearing surprised, and looked up into the stands of Lucas Oil Stadium. The crowd cheered in response.

For the first time in Super Bowl history, the NFL opened Media Day to fans -- 7,000 of them -- and supplied each with a gift bag that included a headset, allowing everyone to tune into their podium of choice.

Many chose Brady and then, an hour later, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

We heard the fans, the quarterbacks and others, as well. Here are a few observations and anecdotes from Tuesday's spectacle. Because even those with the headphones couldn't have noticed all of the madness.

• The Patriots walked onto the field to "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by Dropkick Murphys, a song that has become a Beantown staple since the band recorded it for the Academy Award-winning movie "The Departed." The Giants walked onto the field to "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, which is rivaling Sinatra's "New York, New York" as the go-to song for New York-themed moments.

• Giants rookie linebacker Greg Jones gave each of his teammates a pair of Detox Limited Edition Beat Headphones by Dr. Dre. It's not unusual for a guy to give a team-wide gift. Giants running back Da'Rel Scott explained he now has three pairs of Beats headphones, including Jones' gift. He plans to use the newest pair to listen to music the night before Sunday's game.

• Manning claimed he's a better basketball player than his brother, Peyton, explaining that Peyton possessed little skill and usually fouled out. Since Media Day is as much about football as a Madonna concert, Manning was also asked how he feels about the singer. He refused to name his favorite song, claiming it included a word he didn't want to say (we're guessing it's "Like a Virgin") and also admitted he's not really a Madonna fan.

"I'm not against her or anything," he said.

• Giants rookie fullback Henry Hynoski said Manning took the entire Giants' offense to famed Indianapolis steakhouse St. Elmo's on Monday night. Manning picked up the bill, too. Hynoski said they were walking off the team plane when Manning came up to him and said, "I'm taking the entire offense out to dinner tonight, I hope you can come."

"That's just Eli," Hynoski said. "He does stuff like that."

• NFL Network analyst and former NFL star Deion Sanders spent a few intimate minutes with Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Toward the end of the interview, Sanders pulled Ochocinco close and whispered into his ear for a minute. Ochocinco nodded at whatever sage advice Sanders distributed.

During his media availability, Ochocinco had this to say about his low-profile season (he has 15 catches on the year): "I took this as a challenge, as a lesson. I think it was a test from you-know-who upstairs. 'Will he be able to handle himself the right way in different circumstances when he's not that guy, the main focal point?'"

Gradually, this week will become more and more about football. On Tuesday, it was about anything but.

Kate Fagan is a columnist for espnW. You can follow her on Twitter @katefagan3.