Gil LeBreton

Taking the media out of Super Bowl Media Day

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took center stage to take questions at the NFL’s made-for-TV event.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took center stage to take questions at the NFL’s made-for-TV event. AP

The end of the line for me, I suppose, came two or maybe three years ago when I found myself standing in line, waiting to talk to . . . that ESPN bag ’o gas, Chris Berman.

On that Super Bowl Media Day, as I recall, I had already “interviewed” a guy dressed as (Where’s) Waldo, a dude in a Mozart wig, the infamous Pick Boy from Nickelodeon and maybe Bill Belichick.

You used to be able to interview the actual players and coaches at Media Day, but one day a little car drove up and a thousand clowns climbed out. And the NFL decided that this was good.

At last year’s Media Day, I squeezed in amongst the TV guys from Telemundo, Al Jazeera and TMZ, while the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch answered every question with, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”

I sorta felt the same way.

So when word came down that the NFL was moving its annual Media Day circus to prime time TV, I decided this time to punt.

Here I was Monday night, therefore, 49 miles away from the SAP Center in San Jose, watching Pick Boy and Deion Sanders and Miss Universe — hasn’t she suffered enough? — do their thing.

After all, a made-for-TV event demands to be watched on TV, does it not?

I’ll give the NFL credit for one thing. In a rare display of truth over hoopla, the league has removed the word “media” from Media Day.

Oh, there appeared to be plenty of ink-stained media souls on the floor of the hockey arena Monday, and I can’t wait to hear all their tales of woe. But when the crowd around Peyton Manning is 300-deep and the only answer you can hear is Manning saying he hopes Robert Redford plays him in the movie, why even bother?

We’ll have plenty of time to talk to Peyton and Cam Newton — and a lot more elbow room — over the next three days.

But first — lights, cameras, Super Bowl Opening Night!

Because every show needs a stage, the NFL built one, a replica Golden Gate Bridge, for its Monday introductions.

Manning’s first question from the group, naturally, came from Pick Boy, the guy in a superhero leotard from the Nickelodeon network. Pick Boy handed Peyton a schoolhouse red notebook and informed Manning, “I’ve taken the liberty of drafting up a few plays for you to use. And spoiler alert — ‘Omaha’ is now ‘Albuquerque.’ 

Manning, always one to get the joke, responded that he looked forward to seeing Pick Boy’s work.

Later, somebody asked Peyton whether his “last rodeo” remark of a few weeks ago was a hint of his impending retirement.

“No, you totally missed the point there,” Manning said. “I’ve got the hat. I’ve got the boots. I want to be in rodeos.

“I thought I made that clear.”

Speaking of stupid questions, jumping to the head of the line was the NFL Network’s Deion Sanders to lend his personal blend of sleaziness to the night. In any interview, it’s all about Deion — just listen to him.

But did he actually ask Denver’s Aqib Talib to tell him on live TV what “special defenses” the Broncos have cooked up for the Carolina Panthers?

Talib deftly deflected the question, ending Deion’s apparent audition for 60 Minutes.

Later, however, sensing his spotlight was dimming, Sanders presented Carolina’s Newton with a new pair of Versace zebra-skin pants. Newton had arrived on the Panthers’ charter flight Sunday wearing a reported $849 pair of black and gold Versace pants.

Newton modestly explained that in keeping with the NFL’s black-and-gold theme for Super Bowl 50, he had gone to his closet back in Charlotte and found only the zebra-print Versaces.

Cam’s simple answer left Sanders without a self-serving follow-up remark.

A few minutes later, Pick Boy resurfaced in front of Newton and presented him with his very own Pick Boy superhero outfit — skin tight with the big “P” across the chest.

All in all, in other words, it was a good night to punt.

Gil LeBreton: 817-390-7697, glebreton@, @gilebreton

Super Bowl 50

Broncos vs. Panthers

5:30 p.m. Sunday,

Santa Clara, Calif.


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