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December 06, 2001

Media Day is open season
By Dan Patrick

Tuesday was Super Bowl Media Day. An absurd amount of broadcast, print and Internet journalists spend a week or more in a nice location and get most of their food and drinks for free at various events and parties. Then they all head to a football game on Sunday.

Kerry Collins
Giants QB Kerry Collins openly talked about his past on Monday.

They really should call it "Boondoggle Justification Day," but the NFL could never find a sponsor for that.

There is that sticky notion of filing stories and actually reporting on things, but let's face it, there is a two-week gap between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. The NFL recognizes this and throws this Media Day just about the time half the newspapers in the country might be getting ready to print Matt Stover's favorite cookie recipes.

For those of you who have never had to lower yourself and go to something like this, consider yourself fortunate. It's not exactly an intimate setting. And dignity is in short supply. We're herded in there like cattle and then we're on the clock trying to get our questions in.

You only get an hour with these guys. For the entire time, several of the stars sit at a podium trying to find the face asking the question from a crowd of reporters. It must seem like five hours to them.

There are few real football questions at this made-for-media event. And this year it will be about Trent Dilfer and Kerry Collins answering questions about their past. Even a guy like former Buffalo Bill Glenn Parker is going to have to talk about losing four Super Bowls, including one in Tampa. I don't know that we celebrate the athlete on Media Day as much as we try to grill the guy. It's a chance to ask really stupid questions or force somebody to relive a painful past.

And that's what happened on Tuesday. Ray Lewis was positively grilled. He tried to make it about the football but was really hammered. He handled it well. He summed it up the best by saying, "All I have to do is handle Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne on Sunday. That's it. Everything else is irrelevant." He's right, of course. But nobody was really listening.

Of course, media darlings emerged. Tony Siragusa was really on but even he lost steam after about 40 minutes. (That ought to prove that the thing goes on too long!) It has very little to do with the game. Ray Lewis: This Is Your Life!

It's a shame that we have these great athletes on hand but we don't focus on their sports achievements.

It's a shame, really, that we have these great athletes on hand but we don't focus on their sports achievements. We can't let that happen. That's not good enough. That story doesn't have legs.

We have to talk about you being a drunk or a racist or being involved in a double murder. We have to say that you were a loser and got benched in this town and came back as a winner for somebody else.

I suppose I understand it on some level. But I also think that it's a shame, on another level, that Kerry Collins and Ray Lewis, who are largely responsible for their teams being here, will not be afforded the luxury of talking football as much as they will have to defend themselves.

And that is what Media Day is. Open season on the players. But just for an hour. Then you do your story and head off to the nearest open bar.

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