I’m blessed to cover a second Super Week, this major media extravaganza that takes place the week prior to the biggest sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl. Last year in Dallas, was a new adventure for me in more ways than one.
It was my first time as a true media member. I learned what was to come, how to handle situations and was taught by some of the best in the media on how to handle my business at Super Week from national writers like John Clayton (ESPN), Mike Sando (ESPN), Don Banks (Sports Illustrated) and my close friend Bernie Miklasz (101ESPN and St. Louis Post-Dispatch). While Dallas was totally unprepared and dealt with the worst snow and ice storm that rocked the city in the last 60 years, that was something that not even the NFL planned for.
First, Indianapolis is having some very strange weather for late January and early February with the temperatures in the mid to high 50s. The city is extremely clean, the workers are in and around the JW Marriott (Super Bowl Media Center) are very personable and polite as they check bags and usher us to different areas of the hotel.
Let me set the stage for Super Bowl 46 Super Week. In a giant ballroom, NFL Network has center stage, with Radio Row surrounding it, stretching toward all corners. Tables upon tables of radio equipment, computers and station banners are erected.
A giant Super Bowl banner is draped on the east wall from ceiling to floor, and stretches from one end to the other. All 45 Super Bowls are represented with a giant banner, which is the original replica cover of the game-day program. These banners hang full length in rows of two on the west wall.
Hanging from the ceiling, are 4×4 black flags that have an embroidered Super Bowl ring on them, and yes I’m looking at the New England Patriots ring from Super Bowl 38 in which I was on the losing end of that game, but that is for another blog.
Several stations like 101 ESPN have shipped a large part of their sports radio teams to Super Week with programming directors, host, producers, and engineers. When walking through Radio Row you get a lot of different flavors of personalities talking, laughing, having serious debates, conversations with present and former NFL players and not to mention hundreds of celebrities. It is slow start with gradual build-up and by the end of the week, Radio Row is in full flow, with high energy and a fast pace.
In all Super Bowl media days, the intent by the NFL is to introduce both teams’ coaches and players to the media for an hour on each team. There is media that has traveled worldwide to be a part of this grand sporting event. I met media peers from Japan, England, Spain, Mexico, Germany along with many others.
Again both teams at separate times come into the stadium and take their team photo. Then 13 players and the head coach are seated at podiums and reporters and broadcasters from every sports show fire questions at them while the remaining coaches and players mingle among the crowd of media or the top remaining players have a seat in the stands and the media flocks to them. It is crowded and loud, while media folks jockey for position with TV cameras and recorders.
This year was unique in the fact the league let a select number of fans (about 7,000) into Media Day for the first time. Each fan that arrived had a great seat for the event and were also supplied with a head set, which was designed to hear any of the 14 members at the podium speaking by dialing the number associated with that podium stand. When Tom Brady spoke about Peyton Manning, the fans went crazy with applause and cheering that lasted for a few minutes.
Other events to come in the remainder of the week:
1. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach John Madden’s Third Annual Protector Award.
2. Fed-X Air & Ground NFL Player of the Year.
3. NFL and GMC will donate footballs to 100 youths at Hawthorne Community Center.
Also every evening the Indianapolis Host Committee has provided fans with nightly concerts. On Thursday, they will be treated to a VH1 NFL Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam Concert featuring Gym Class Heroes, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Neon Hitch, B.o.B and the All-American Rejects.