Jan. 28, 2004
Went to the Media Party last night. In my two previous Super Bowls, this bash put on by the league for all accredited media was one of the nighttime highlights so I made a point to swing by.
This one was held at a place called the Downtown Aquarium. It doubles as an aquarium and restaurant/amusement park. There's a ferris wheel, carousel, games and a train ride that takes passengers through a shark tank complete with a fake Jaws that pokes its head out at one point. (I didn't experience any of the amusements; too busy experiencing the marguerites, but I got the full 411 from Patriots.com webmaster Dave Dudek. You can pay him a visit at www.davedudek.com).
The building has three floors with a spiral staircase wrapped around a huge fish tank. The perimeters of the first two floors are lined with tanks as well while the third floor serves as a nightclub. It was a neat place and a great setting for the party. Around 10pm, there was a fireworks display that, even from a Boston Fourth of July perspective, was pretty impressive.
Wednesday began the two days of team hotel media availability. The head coaches do their bit at a podium while the rest of the coaches and players sit at tables or risers in another room and take on all comers. The types of questions asked at these sessions are much more football-related than yesterday's Media Day circus.
My mission was to light a fire underneath some of the Patriots. I asked Dan Koppen about how the offensive line would cope with such a formidable front four as Carolina's. Not only doesn't Koppen play like a rookie, he doesn't handle himself at an interview like one. His answers were exactly what one would expect from a true Belichick disciple: "They've got a great bunch of guys and we're going to have to play our best." That's it, folks. Koppen's not one to get caught up in any war of words. One thing we know is the Panthers have some pretty good intelligence on Koppen. His offensive line coach at Boston College was Dave Magazu who is now the tight ends coach at Carolina.
I then tried to tell Deion Branch that the bigger Panther corners are planning to beat up the Patriot receivers. No dice. "We're just going to play our game. We expect them to try and be physical with us." Man, these guys just won't take the bait.
Our PFW in Progress show on Patriots.com was a near repeat performance of a show we did two years ago in New Orleans. Playing the part of a hung-over Shane Donaldson, who back then was blown away by one too many hurricane cocktails and passed out on-air in mid-sentence, was Bryan Morry and Andy Hart. While they maintained consciousness (barely), they were clearly under the weather and came out flat. Paul Perillo on the other hand, who by no means was early to bed last night, was as chipper as ever. His Everett, Mass., upbringing has him well prepared for the rigors of Super Bowl week.
Tonight is the 989 Sports video game competition that is 8-0 in determining which team will win the Super Bowl. Two players face off in a video football game. Troy Brown beat the Rams Isaac Bruce two years ago. This time he goes up against Steve Smith. Brown not only has the Super Bowl experience, he also has the console experience.
We'll be sending our own Dave Dudek (yes, of www.davedudek.com) and he'll file a full report