January 21, 2003
U Miami F Darius Rice:
Jerry Rice's nephew had Super Bowl-sized karma, scoring 43 and hitting a buzzer-beating desperation 3 off an inbounds steal to lead Miami to an upset over UConn.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Think of a long, hot car trip, with bratty kids in the backseat repeating over and over: "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" That's Super Bowl Media Day, and today, there will be no satisfaction until every player and coach is asked 200 times some variation of: "So what about this whole 'Jon Gruden-Raiders grudge' thing?"

Teams hope their players stay disciplined and don't get baited into saying something the other team would find inspirational (as if a Super Bowl game is won or lost with a juicy quote); every media type is trying to be the person to elicit the quote (as if there's such thing as a "scoop" when there are 50 microphones for every player).

Players and coaches must have feelings on the Gruden/grudge issue, yet they'll likely keep them bottled up; fans, meanwhile, have a big appetite for this particular drama but will likely go unsatisfied. Here's a dream solution: a 15-minute free-for-all where everyone says what they feel like; if everyone was doing it, both sides of smack would cancel each other out, mitigating the usual risk of generating the bulletin-board quote that leads SportsCenter. Meanwhile, there is enough choice talk for every media person to get a unique piece of the action. We get our juice; the teams get to vent. Then maybe we can focus on the game.

YOUR Media Day
Media Day is also the most populist moment of the NFL season, because ESPN.com's army of correspondents will be asking your questions, among others. Please don't submit, "How long have you been a 37-year-old quarterback?" Something baiting, however, like "How long have you hated Jon Gruden?" would be fun. I'd personally like to find out from quote-machine Frank Middleton: "If you could be any pirate from history or literature, who would it be?" Hopefully he'd reply with something like: "All we talk about in our locker room is how much we hate that S.O.B. Chucky."

Submit your question here!

1. To T. Brown: "What does this mean to you?"
2. To J. Rice: "Compare this to other SBs."
3. To A. Davis: "Are you moving to L.A.?"
1. To J. Gruden: "Who's your pick for American Idol II?"
2. To K. Johnson: "Do you have anything to say?"
3. To A. Davis: "Where can I buy a satin sweatsuit?"
One Week Enough
Enjoy this frenzied one-week lead-up to the game; next year, the NFL is going back to two weeks between conference championships and the Super Bowl. Is it about giving teams more time to prep? Giving players more time to deal with getting their families to the game? Allowing even more hype to build? Off-the-field details notwithstanding, teams don't need two weeks to get ready; if it was enough time for the Patriots to devise a game plan last year, it's enough time for any team.

The only thing that seems unfair this year is that one week is an advantage for the team taking a short hop from Oakland, rather than a long haul from Florida. Gruden carved out a little extra time to game-plan (suddenly it's a verb?) by sticking around Tampa yesterday, rather than flying out with the team. It was the non-story of the day, and he's arriving this morning in time to answer questions like "How long have you hated Jon Gruden?"

National Interest
The NFL says that it has had no discussions about contingencies in case the U.S. launches an attack on Iraq before Sunday. I have this from-left-field theory that

the U.S. would never launch an attack before the Super Bowl, because the game might be cancelled, and the White House understands that the country needs the Super Bowl -- arguably the most collectively "American" event of the year -- particularly if we're heading into a war of undetermined length and intensity. The game itself is inconsequential in the bigger picture; the Super Bowl as national experience is important.

On a smaller scale, game security will be as tight as last year, but managed by the San Diego police, as opposed to the Secret Service. Don't expect to see the usual cavalcade of Raider Nation freaks, however; chains, spikes and all other weaponry that Raiders fans think shows their devotion will be prohibited. (Not that there are too many tickets for the actual fans. But watch out for the cavalcade of corporate-executive freaks, with their Blackberrys, cell phones and all other weaponry.)

Vincent Yarbrough:
Nuggets rookie tried to trash-talk MJ and got this reply: "You watched me. I didn't watch you." Ouch.
It's Media Day! But we've got questions for you.
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