Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

January 30, 2014

Super Bowl spectacle crosses into the absurd

If ever there was a straight laced operation, it would be the National Football League. So how does one explain Media Day, the pre-Super Bowl event that is mostly a silly, goofy, absurd showcase to let the world’s press - and about anyone else with a recording device and some nerve - play the part of clown?

This year’s annual display of debauchery was hosted at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. , where  thousands of real and imagined media representatives swarmed the home ice of the New Jersey Devils. The ambition of almost every one was to maybe, just maybe, get within 25 feet of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning to shout a question his way.

Maybe it’s fitting that Manning makes tens of millions of dollars. Otherwise, what would justify his participation in something so insane?

Football fans might want to understand how Manning plans to attack the part of the field that Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman defends on Sunday. But one of the game’s all-time great passers instead was drilled with questions about hosting “Saturday Night Live.” (“This week? I probably won’t be there this week. I don’t think so.”) Or who were his favorite Real Housewives – the ones in Orange County or New Jersey? (“I have not had a chance to see either show.”)

I guess, if you’re a 37-year-old quarterback who’s been blindsided more times than you can remember, only to quickly bounce up and run another play, why react angrily to a foolish, attention-seeking inquiry?

The scene that surrounded Manning and others players preparing for Super Bowl XLVIII was something out of Theater of the Absurd. There was a man dressed as Mozart (or could it have been Thomas Jefferson?), a guy doing his best Waldo, a lost soul impersonating a leprechaun and Nickelodeon’s Pick Boy.

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