By Teresa Varley
Super Bowl XLIII Full Coverage The following is an informal Super Bowl Diary, giving you the sights and sounds of the Steelers trip to Tampa, Florida for Super Bowl XLIII.
Check back on a daily basis for updates and if you missed any of the entries, be sure to click on the link for each day so you don't miss any of the fun.
Super Bowl Diary Day 4 - Previous Entries: Super Bowl Diary Day 3 Super Bowl Diary Day 2 Super Bowl Diary Day 1
Wednesday was a welcome day for the players because it was the first day that actually resembled a normal schedule for them and the best part was, it was back to football details.
The players had an early wake-up call, a little earlier than some realized since the bus left about 15 minutes before originally planned. By 8 a.m., though, everyone was out of the hotel and off to the practice facility at the University of South Florida.
The morning routine was a normal one for the team – with meetings running from about 9 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. During the season the team has open locker room before practice, but let's just say the media session on Wednesday would have never accommodated all of the media that were on hand. All of the players and coaches were required to attend, with the players all wearing their game jerseys so everyone knew who they were. The session was held in the Sun Dome at USF.
Until media day, where it's about the glitz and glamour of the game and a little less football, this media session was for those a bit more serious about the game. Football was actually the prime topic that everyone discussed.
Coach Mike Tomlin took the podium first and then Ben Roethlisberger had his chance to talk. After that all of the players were brought in, with a handful of them, such as Hines Ward, Willie Parker, LaMarr Woodley and Santonio Holmes getting their own riser and others at tables. Some shared tables, while others had their own spot to get drilled with questions.
Linebacker James Harrison is not a big fan of doing the media sessions and while he had his own podium, the crowd dwindled the longer he sat there, probably because they got the same sense of how much he didn't like having to be there in the spotlight. James is all about playing football, not talking it.
After he was finished with his questions, Roethlisberger walked around the room with his camcorder capturing some of the moments. Quarterback Charlie Batch did the same thing, but Charlie was a little more inquisitive, asking players questions as he went from table to table.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was breaking news after the press gathering after he said he was coming back next season as the defensive coordinator. The funny thing is, he never knew he would be going anywhere. Rumors had been going around that he was leaving after this season, so LeBeau told the players that wasn't true.
"I would never make any kind of decision without the guys in that room, like my son, knowing first," said LeBeau. "The way they're playing, they're going to have to run me out of here."
Later in the evening, as some of us were sitting having dinner, we joked with LeBeau telling him he was "breaking news" on the sports crawls. He couldn't help but laugh about all of it.
Some of the players on the practice squad, who didn't have assigned seating, spent the time catching up on reading the local newspaper. Marvel Smith and Kendall Simmons, both on injured reserve, stayed off to the side and took it all in. A few of the players would talk for a minute or two and then look bored as the crowds died down. For some guys, like Ward, Parker and Ryan Clark, it was constant banter the entire time. Clark was one of the players who had a crowd waiting for him when he got to his table and ESPN's Ed Werder was among those in the first wave waiting for Clark.
Once the media session ended the players had their lunch break and then finally they got to head onto the field for practice, something many of them were really looking forward to. Local media who are used to covering practice and having access don't have the same luxury at the Super Bowl as practices are closed and only a pool reporter is able to attend. The pool reporters provided the basics, but no worries, they don't give out any team secrets!
When the team returned to the hotel there were still a few minor obligations that needed to be taken care of, including another interview for Roethlisberger, this one with Dan Patrick from NBC. There was also an NBC production meeting, which is why the Madden Cruiser pulled up at the hotel following practice.
Before the afternoon came to an end the players were able to pick up their game tickets and many are glad to get them into the hands of those who will be using them.
Safety Troy Polamalu will be featured in a Coke Zero ad that mimics the legendary Joe Greene Coke commercial from the late 1970s and he talked about it for the first time on Wednesday. The ad begins the same way as the Greene ad, with a young boy offering Polamalu his Coke Zero as limps down the tunnel, but there are plenty of surprises in store after that.
The ad, which was filmed at Heinz Field, required the soft-spoken nice guy to have a bit of a mean streak, something he said on Wednesday was not easy for him.
"It was a lot of pressure, first of all," said Polamalu of filming the ad. "But I think it turned out pretty nice. Joe was such a natural for that commercial because that was his demeanor. He was Mean Joe Greene, so when he was mean to that kid, he was just being himself. For me, I had to act."
The Greene Coke ad earned a Cleo, which is the highest honor in advertising, and the new Polamalu ad has really impressed the star of the first one.
"My first reaction to seeing the commercial was it's just like what I did," said Greene. "He is doing a pretty good job. Then the twist is perfect. It's not the same, but it is. The way it was put together was just perfect."
Just a few leftover notes from Tuesday that didn't make it into the diary. Ben Roethlisberger has been taking good care of his offensive line this week, taking them out to dinner once again. This time they headed off to PF Chang's.
Some of the players headed off to see the Tampa Bay Lightening play on Tuesday night. Punter Mitch Berger, kicker Jeff Reed and injured long-snapper Greg Warren were among the group and they were honored on the ice before the game.