HOUSTON – Media Day at the Super Bowl is one of the rare times to interact with players without football being the only topic. Reporters, photographers, celebrities and various other "journalists" usually search for the players' lighter side, and often the fun and games that result can be among the most enjoyable experiences of the week.
Here are some sights and sounds from Patriots Media Day at Reliant Stadium …
The Patriots session opened with tackle Matt Light serving as a roving reporter complete with camera, microphone and plenty of teammates to interrogate. Injured guard Damien Woody was one of his most popular subjects.
"I'm Mitch Snodgrass from SNOT-TV," Light began as Woody barely suppressed a laugh. "We here at SNOT are interested in bringing the real story home to our viewers. What's the real story here Damien?"
Light continued to make his way around the Reliant Stadium sideline stopping any and all teammates he could torment. But as the day came to a close, he saved some of his best stuff for a certain member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who made waves last week by saying the Panthers would handle the Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl.
"Hey Warren," Snodgrass, er, Light yelled up into the stands at Warren Sapp, who was working for the NFL Network. "How are you enjoying the Super Bowl so far?"
Sapp was about 20 rows up in the stands so he obviously couldn't hear Light, but that didn't stop his report. "There he goes doing his little shuffle," he said as Sapp sidestepped his way through a row. "Maybe that's his Super Bowl Shuffle. That's some great reporting right there. You've got to reach out to these guys and find out what makes them tick."
Clearly the Patriots have wasted little time wondering what makes Sapp tick.
Fun with Ted
Ted Washington did his best to fulfill his requirements for the day, which consisted of putting on a uniform and making himself available. Normally, the Pats nose tackle prefers not to converse with the media and clearly answering the questions sent in his direction wasn't likely at the top of his things to do list.
But Washington made it through, even if he spent the final 10-15 minutes standing behind the backdrop of Rodney Harrison's podium in an apparent attempt to hide out.
"I'm very appreciative of the opportunity to be here after missing out a couple of times by losing in the conference championship game," said Washington, a 13-year veteran playing in his first Super Bowl. "Media Day isn't very much fun, but being here and having the whole world watching is a lot of fun. This kind of stuff is probably more fun for the younger guys because they're not as used to getting the pub and they have more fun with it."
Can you hear me now?
Second-year wideout David Givens, a native of Humble, Texas, said the past week was one of the most hectic of his young life. Playing in the Super Bowl so close to home has brought the obvious array of ticket requests from family and friends.
"I got about 50 [requests] but we only got 15 [tickets] so I had a lot of unhappy family and friends," Givens said. "It got to the point last week where I just had to turn my phone off."
One of the enjoyable aspects of Media Day every year is the bevy of non-football people that are on hand asking questions. From gossip columnists to reality show contestants there are usually plenty of angles to choose from.
Children generally put the players most at ease and take part in some of the day's funniest moments. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi got more than his share of serious football questions – most dealing with his injured calf – during his hour at a podium, but his mood was brightened when 13-year-old Justin Phillips of Nickelodeon's Games & Sports Network stuck a microphone in his face and asked a few questions.
"Can you spell Delhomme," Phillips asked. After a laugh, Bruschi replied "D-L-H-O-M-M-E" leaving out the first E. The two shared a laugh before the linebacker tried to turn the tables.
"Can you spell Bruschi?"
"No looking at my sign," Bruschi interrupted as he covered his nameplate with his hand.
"B-R-U-S-C-H-I," Phillips said confidently as Bruschi gave him a nod of approval.
Phillips, who hails from Raleigh, N.C., wasn't finished. But this time Bruschi had the answer when Phillips asked him to recite the Roman numerals for Super Bowl XXXVIII, rattling them off without hesitation.
Gift of gab
Former Patriots nose tackle Steve Martin, who finished the 2003 season playing for Houston, was on hand to say hello to his former teammates and to serve as a guest reporter for Houston's Channel 24 news. While Martin's short career as a Patriot wasn't that successful on the field, the affable veteran was no stranger to the microphone and enjoyed dealing with the press. So it came as no surprise to see him with the microphone in his hand.
"What are you going to eat tonight?" he said to Anthony Pleasant before the two exchanged a hug and conducted a "serious" interview. From the looks of things, the topic never got much heavier than that.