Johnny Weir And Tara Lipinski Interview Kam Chancellor (No, Seriously)
Just before the Seattle Seahawks were slated to appear at Super Bowl Media Day, figure skater Johnny Weir, in a crimson suit and jeweled necklace, walked toward the entrance and put his Louis Vuitton bag on the sidewalk for the police dog to sniff.
Once inside, he joined his partner in commentary, fellow skater Tara Lipinski, and the two attempted to get a question to Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, over the dozens of other reporters assembled. They kept trying, but other reporters shouted over them.
"I don't think we fit in here," Lipinski said. "People are very aggressive."
One of the most enjoyable pairs to comment on figure skating, Weir and Lipinski will be part of NBC's pregame festivities on Super Bowl Sunday in Glendale, Arizona. They will be reporting from the official NFL tailgate party for VIP guests.
Here is the tension: putting this duo in one of the most hetero-normal environments there might be, where beer and erectile dysfunction ads target the men in the audience -- not the women who generally tune into the Olympics.
"Just walking in here today, we both said, 'Wow, the energy feels so different than anything we've ever done,'" Lipinski said.
"Very testosterone-filled," Weir added.
It was just two years ago that Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers sparked a backlash on media day by saying the NFL wouldn't accept a gay player.
Fast-forward, and on Tuesday, Weir and his pompadour and heeled shoes were part of the festivities. Weir even confided in one reporter that he had a crush on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Then with faux shock, "Can I say that?"
Oh, yes, you can, Johnny.
Beneath his cheeky remarks, the openly gay skater had some serious comments about the NFL and homosexuality -- two things that have not seemed to go well together at all.
"I think the NFL has done an amazing job with gay athletes and being open to gay athletes," Weir said. "It's the same as any sport. We're judged on the same field, we're judged on the same quality that we bring to the game and to the sport. I'm proud of the NFL for the stance that they've taken on Michael Sam and being awesome. The gays have to produce a good player."
They probably already have -- and probably more than one -- but the closet door isn't completely open. Remember: Weir went to Russia as a skating analyst after the country made it a crime to spread what it called homosexual propaganda.
"If it takes me getting arrested for people to pay attention and for people to lobby against this law," Weir told CBS at the time, "then I'm willing to take it."
Weir's candor might just be what draws some nontraditional fans to the broadcast, but the chemistry with Lipinski is novel and smart. They have taken their act to the Oscars and the Kentucky Derby, and Weir and Lipinski will provide a different kind of football commentary.
"It's a huge event," Lipinski said. "And the game we have nothing to do with. It's fun, it's lighthearted, we're doing the preshow, interviewing the people who come down the carpet, doing fun features, just a good laugh."
Here's how it went down when they finally got Chancellor's attention.
Lipinski: "If you had to design a costume for the Legion of Boom what would it be?"
Chancellor: "Something with a warrior outfit or something. Some warriors."
Chancellor: "No sparkles. It would be fierce. Nothing wrong with [sparkles], but not for the Legion of Boom."
Back at their hotel room, Weir and Lipinski joked that they have a chalkboard covered with X's and O's. They struck a Heisman pose. But really, all they need to be entertaining on Super Bowl Sunday is themselves.