No one is quite sure when it began but Media Day has become as much a Super Bowl tradition as the awarding of the Lombardi Trophy, providing a wacky and light-hearted kickoff to the US’ biggest sporting event.
Like gladiators being thrown to the lions, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers were thrust into one of the sporting world’s most bizarre scenes on Tuesday as of members of the mainstream sports media mingled uneasily with reporters dressed as super heroes and glamorous television presenters teetering on stiletto high heels.
On Media Day, no outfit is too outrageous or question too far out of bounds.
Not even an ice storm could prevent a convoy of 12 buses packed with media from getting to Cowboys Stadium and asking the probing questions everyone wants to know.
A man dressed in black tights, a cape and mask asked the Packers’ A.J. Hawk if he would consider becoming a member of his league of super heroes.
A woman wanted to know if the Green Bay linebacker prefers Katy Perry or Lady Gaga while someone else was curious about what players do when nature calls during the game.
But the most common questions on this Media Day was a hairy one: who has the nicer locks, the Packers’ Clay Matthews or Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu.
“Troy may have won defensive player of the year but there is no doubt I won best hair in the game,” said Matthews, wiping his hand over his golden mane. “I think it’s a unanimous decision. It’s great that we have some hair endorsements and can have some fun with it.”
Ines Sainz, the television reporter who prompted the NFL to introduce new code of conduct rules, attracted nearly as much attention as the Packers and Steelers.
Earlier in the season, Sainz triggered an NFL investigation when it was reported the former model had catcalls and rude comments directed at her from some members of the New York Jets while waiting to conduct an interview in the team locker room.
While Sainz, a reporter for Mexico’s TV Azteca, said the incident had left her feeling “uncomfortable,” she appeared at ease Tuesday in a sequined micro mini-dress and high heels.
“I dress for my show because in Mexico I have a really important show and all my outfits match with my partners,” beamed Sainz into a wall of TV cameras. “It is part of my job.”
“That’s the great thing about Media Day. You can do the serious work and you can share the time with the media and have some fun,” she said.
There was no shortage of competition for the spotlight with television networks sending in some of their most glamorous presenters to provide reports for everything from Entertainment Tonight to Access Hollywood.
Comedians from late night talk shows poked fun at good-natured players while 11-year-old Jordan Sternblitz, kid reporter for the Dallas Morning News, grilled Packers as they passed by.
But not all the questions on Media Day are soft ones.
Asked about reports that he was spotted at Dallas strip club on Monday night, Steelers Hines Ward had a short answer.
“None of your business,” growled the Pittsburgh wide receiver.