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Super Bowl Media Night is a waste of time, and I’d hate to see it go

This year’s Super Bowl Media Night was as forgettable as any in recent history. And yet, without it, we might miss so much.

Super Bowl LII Opening Night at Xcel Energy Center Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

I asked Tommy Kjærsgaard-Rasmussen, a Danish reporter, why he was showing players at Super Bowl Media Night a picture of his grandmother, expecting it to be a goof. It wasn’t a goof:

Tommy — we’re going with “Tommy” here for obvious reasons — told me that he wasn’t sure whether his grandmother would make it another year, that he had grown a new appreciation for her, and now he wanted to share that with the players at the Super Bowl while hearing stories about their grandmothers.

Tommy’s story is sweet and worthwhile to the exact degree that a bajillion other remote report spots done at Media Night won’t be. I’m on record saying that Media Night is great even if in a stupid way, and great people-watching at the very least. That said, this year’s iteration felt relatively less great, less stupid, and short several lively characters.

This year’s highlights included a man in a shark costume, a man in a dog mask, and at one point sharkman and dogman interviewed each other:

There was Phillip Hajszan, now an old standby, once again cajoling players to sing traditional Austrian folk songs and dance traditional Austrian dances while acting as a billboard for his nation. Two years ago he was dressed as an Alpine skier, last year some sort of prince, and this year national team player for the Austrian American football squad:

There was also someone getting Patrick Chung to say, “Welcome to the Year of the Dog” in Chinese, umpteen children getting pushed up to podiums to ask questions (as they well and should, and bless them because I would have anxiety-barfed at the sight of Marshall Faulk when I was 12) and somewhere Nancy Kerrigan, oddly enough.

There was nothing too ostentatious, however, except maybe the small indoor fireworks display that went off when the teams were announced, nor anything controversial, except maybe a resolution to the matter of the young radio host who insulted Tom Brady’s daughter (Brady was nice and said the guy shouldn’t be fired, so that’s the end, I guess.)

Mostly, the night passed, likely never to be remembered as hard as some tried to make it memorable. But I hope that doesn’t come off as an indictment of the event, because I would hate to see it go anywhere. I’m not sure Super Bowl Media Night has any rival in American sports for potential nonsense and fun.

I overheard another journalist say, “There’s a lot of trash here,” in reference to the many people with one-day press passes who were, say, getting memorabilia signed, or trying to stretch one-note jokes, or doing anything that impeded the progress of anyone trying to do at least semi-serious work. I can understand the frustration there. Deadlines suck.

But then everyone is there for the same reason: to make a brave attempt at disarming a football player. I don’t know if that means the whole event is worthwhile. Ultimately, little of substance will ever come out of those three hours (or the whole week leading up to the game, really) relative to the energy that was expended moving all those people to a hockey arena, blocking off streets, hiring staff, and creating a fancy stage setup.

Then again, where else could Tommy tell everyone about his grandma? Tommy works at a place called Viasat Sport, by the way, and I’m hoping to see his interviews compiled here soon. A bunch of Scandinavian NFL fans will see them, and hopefully a few of you, too, if only to see the small tidy corners that can be scrubbed out of the big forgettable mess that the NFL has decided to be.