Well, Hype Week is officially here. The NFL has descended upon Tampa to get ready for Super Bowl XLIII. That means there are dozens of radio stations doing live shows, ESPN has taken over the city, and thousands of media types (between radio, print, television and digital) are all trying to get ‘the story.’ Here are five things to look for this week.
1. Stories about respect: The Cardinals are literally the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL. They haven’t played for a championship in sixty-one years. They have been one of the most hapless teams in NFL history. They have moved from city (Chicago) to city (St. Louis) to city (Phoenix). They’ve had two winning seasons since moving to the desert. No one expected them to make it this far. And, Vegas still doesn’t believe in them.
There will be story upon story written talking about how no one respects the Cradinals. By the end of the week, the same story will have been written or talked about approxomately 1,842 times. We’ll be sick of the ‘resepct’ stories by the time they kick the game off on Sunday night.
2. Kurt Warner Hall of Fame Debates: Another thing that will be written about and debated on television and radio shows will be whether or not the Arizona quarterback is worthy of being a Hall of Famer. In fact, it’s already been talked about on talk radio to death for the last couple of weeks. But, having Warner in town for the big game means the debate gets ratcheted up a notch, with other players – both past and present – taking sides on the issue.
My thoughts: Warner’s an incredible athlete. His story is incredible, too. But, there is a giant hole in his career between his last Super Bowl with St. Louis and this one with the Cardinals. The fact that Warner got this ragtag organization here puts him on the verge of getting my vote for Canton. If he wins on Sunday he’ll seal the deal.
3. Ben Roethlisberger Debates: What the Steelers quarterback has done in his short career is pretty darned impressive. He – as a rookie – got the Steelers to the AFC Championship game against the Patriots. He won a Lombardi Trophy the next season when his club beat the Seahawks in Detroit. Three years later, Big Ben is here again. That’s two Super Bowl appearances in a five year career.
This week, the question will be asked over and over again – where does Big Ben rank? Well, you can’t rank him ahead of either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but you can make a case that he should be third on the list. The numbers aren’t always eye popping, but it’s not all about numbers with him. It’s about his leadership abilities. And let’s face it, there aren’t many better leaders in the NFL right now.
4. Someone (not a player) will make a fool of themselves during Media Day: The Tuesday before every Super Bowl is known as Media Day. You get an hour with each team. There are fifty-three players plus assistant coaches. There are about three thousand media members trying to get them for an ‘exclusive’ interview.
When you get that many media members in the same spot, you get more than just the hardcore football guys. For instance Dave Letterman sends his wacky staff to try and get some wacky soundbytes (are you getting my drift). One year I saw the comedian Carrot Top trying to get interviews. Rayven Symone has been at Media in the past. In other words, there are a lot of non-football media types there.
When that happens, you could be in for some wild stuff. For instance, the question to former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams ‘How long have you been a black quarterback?’. There is the all time classic ‘If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?’
Media Day is when the wannabes come out. The real stories come during the media sessions that are held on the other days during the week. Media Day is when the funny soundbytes get archived forever. it’s also when the freaks/weirdos/anyone looking for fifteen minutes of fame come out.
5. Three Hundred Pound Salesmen: Super Bowl week is also when companies fly players from all of the teams down to the Super Bowl City for the sole purpose of being pitchmen. As a radio guy, this was always great for us. Guys you could never get interviews with (Chad Johnson for instance) would literally come up to you with a PR guy in tow asking if you had any interest in talking to them. All you have to do is ask one question about what they’re hawking (but if you hide it effectively at the end of the interview no one notices it’s really a sales pitch).
It’s not only current players. There are Hall of Famers that are involved as well. There are also actors, musicians, and other celebrities who are all looking to promote whatever it is they are there to promote.
The only difference between this year and years past is that there will be fewer radio stations in Tampa on Radio Row for these players and celebrities to sell their wares to. That’s because there’s a little something called a recession that’s going on right now.
But, they will be there nonetheless. We as media will eat it up. Fans will enjoy hearing from people that they normally wouldn’t hear from on a sports radio station.
And kickoff is only six days away.