Die-Hard Fans Attend Super Bowl Media Day

fromWBUR

There's hype, hype and more hype in Indianapolis Tuesday. It's Super Bowl media day. And some die-hard fans are watching and listening to it all from the stands.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Today was Super Bowl Media Day in Indianapolis, and normally, that would be what you'd expect a day for media. But this year, something new occurred. For the first time, fans were allowed inside the stadium. For a modest fee, they could witness a vast horde of notebook-toting reporters descending on Giants and Patriots players and coaches. Curt Nickisch of member station WBUR was there, and he survived to send this report.

CURT NICKISCH, BYLINE: Media Day is a marvel of modern sports hype, a sea of video cameras and microphones crowds football players on the field where the Super Bowl will be played. Sports reporters are dwarfed by the players they're interviewing, and TV hosts in platform shoes pose for stand-ups.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yeah. And then we're going to pull on out. And here, you're going to say with the Patriots.

NICKISCH: Meanwhile, the star players and coaches sit in booths for more than an hour to answer back-to-back questions. Because the game is being held in Indianapolis, where Peyton Manning and the Colts play, half the questions for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning were about his older brother.

ELI MANNING: Peyton and I, we still - when we go home, we still sleep in bunk beds.

NICKISCH: What's different this year is the in-house audience. More than 7,000 football fans were in the stands, watching the coordinated chaos unfold.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

REGGIE MAGEE: Having a ball.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NICKISCH: Reggie Magee, like everyone else in the stands, got an earpiece to wear. He could look up at the big screen to see which player was being broadcast on which channel and then could listen in on the simultaneous press conferences.

MAGEE: I've been flipping back and forth. Very interesting, I like it.

NICKISCH: He better like it. He dropped 25 bucks to get in the building to watch TV hosts swarm the players like ants and listen to players answer the same questions over and over. Well worth it to Patriots fan Brian Ragland.

BRIAN RAGLAND: This is amazing. I mean, I don't know why they didn't do it before. I don't know why they didn't sell 50,000 seats.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

RAGLAND: It's awesome.

NICKISCH: What's so awesome? To see the players without their helmets on, to see the TV personalities they know from ESPN and "Extra." Katie Daryle from HDNet didn't mind being part of the paid show.

KATIE DARYLE: I'm having a blast. I mean, come on. This is pretty much every dude in America's dream right now. So if you can't enjoy it for that, then you're just a jerk.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NICKISCH: The whole event lasted more than three hours. The length of time, the amount of access, that's what's always made Media Day such an event. Now, the NFL has figured it's another way to bring in revenue and build excitement for the Super Bowl on Sunday, although the New England Patriots coach didn't help the cause. For more than an hour, the tight-lipped Bill Belichick deflected probing questions, answering with Zen-like brevity.

BILL BELICHICK: We have a lot of respect for the Giants.

NICKISCH: Wouldn't you pay $25 to listen to that? For NPR News, I'm Curt Nickisch in Indianapolis.

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