FORT WORTH, Texas – Over at the Brett Keisel podium, a guy is standing there pointing a microphone adorned with the CNN logo. He waits for an opening and then it's, "Ah, Brett, do you think your beard could beat up Troy Polamalu's hair?"
That's the kind of day it was here on Tuesday, when not even a region-wide ice storm could get in the path of Super Bowl Media Day. An overnight rain accompanied by rapidly falling temperatures had formed an icy surface that the NHL would have loved to have had for the Winter Classic, and it was on everything from Dallas to Fort Worth.
Everything was shut down. Schools, DFW Airport. At one point during what would have been morning rush hour, police and ambulances stopped using lights and sirens because anything above a crawl created the potential for a public hazard.
What the NFL had in its favor as it plowed ahead with Media Day – also, there seems to be no road salt in the area, because the trucks were spreading sand – was that nobody else had any interest in being on the roads. During the trip from the Steelers hotel to Cowboys Stadium, the two things the caravan of buses had in its favor were that the roads were flat and there were very, very few other vehicles on the highway.
Inside Cowboys Stadium – and you gotta believe the giant Steelers logo on the façade has to send Jerry Jones reaching for the antacids every time he sees it – is where Media Day is staged. Each team is required to present all players, coaches and other appropriate personnel – for instance, Art Rooney II and Kevin Colbert both participated during the Steelers session – for 60 minutes during which the media usually finds a way to live down to every stereotype, and then reach new lows.
There is a guy calling himself Pick Boy, and he's from NickToons. Dressed like Robin but hardly a Boy Wonder, he gives Keisel a balloon that he calls an award for the beard, he asks Mike Tomlin a couple of nonsensical questions. Later in the session, he's interviewing Tyler Grisham, who among all the players could pass for the age group targeted by NickToons.
A woman from a FOX affiliate – there are a lot of FOX affiliates here because that is the network broadcasting the actual game – asks Keisel if he uses conditioner on his beard. When he answered that he does, she follows up with, "Do you leave the conditioner in?" Keisel treats the question with more respect than it deserves. "No, I'm a rinser," he says.
Ryan Clark has an interesting time of it, because he has his divided up by some questions about his alma mater of LSU, about the NFL labor situation, about what makes the Steelers special, and then he was asked to show his game face. "I'm like Ben Affleck. I have the same face for everything," joked Ryan, before adding, "Just kidding, Ben. Loved your movie, 'The Town.' Another hit for Legendary Pictures." By the way, Thomas Tull, one of the Steelers' investors, is the President and CEO of Legendary Pictures. When Clark was asked to put on a bushy black wig as a tribute to Troy Polamalu's hair, he graciously played along, and heaven help anyone standing by once the crush of cameras got wind of this juicy photo opp.
Clark ended his day getting tips on stretching from Camera Girl, a twentysomething who had spent most of the time wearing a hard hat mounted with a video camera on the top and what seemed to be cans containing energy drinks on both sides. This was just a few yards away from the guy dressed like he was on his way to a gig with a mariachi band, which was right in the area of where Inez Sainz was giving way more interviews than she was conducting. Of course, Sainz is the female reporter who had that incident in the Jets locker room, and today she is dressed for the occasion, were the occasion a cocktail party in an upscale Vegas hotel.
But even amid all this shenanigans, there were indications of the kind of veteran savvy that has helped the Steelers advance to this Super Bowl. James Farrior was asked for his Mike Tomlin impression, and showing the cool for which he is famous, Farrior didn't miss a beat, and the rookie never saw it coming. "Crezdon Butler does the Mike Tomlin imitation."
But alas, Butler was otherwise occupied. He was playing the part of the interviewer for some bit with Chad Ochocinco, who was there as a member of the media.
Super Bowl XLV Media Day. As they say in the biz, "That's a wrap."