A few years ago, the NFL wised up. The league threw Super Bowl Media Day — err, Opening Night — in primetime on Monday of Super Bowl week. An event that used to be at 8 a.m. on one of the mornings leading up to the game is now an overblown event that formally kicks the week off.
The thing has been a lighthearted spectacle for a while, but I actually have to give kudos to the NFL for leaning into the all-in entertainment nature of the proceedings with the move to primetime.
I’ve never been to the Super Bowl’s version, but I have been to college football’s two most overblown media scrum sessions.
Those are SEC Media Days, and the College Football Playoff National Championship Media Day.
The SEC’s version pretends to be the informal kickoff to the college football season where you get wacky soundbites from coaches. It typically falls short by being incredibly boring in a ballroom in Hoover, Ala. The college title game’s media day tries to be serious, and it does largely accomplish that goal without descending into the Twilight Zone.
But Super Bowl media day actually kinda works as a television product because it doesn’t take itself seriously, and hasn’t for a long time. I’m sure there are journalists tasked with getting actual content to turn around for their outlets about who’s healthy or something of that nature.
There’s also plenty of this:
That’s it, perfectly distilled. That’s what I want out of my Super Bowl Media Day. Are these players here to participate in the biggest game of their life? Yep. Would I much rather play a drinking game corresponding with ESPN’s Bill Belichick smile counter than care about how happy the players are to be there? Yep.
I was absolutely emotionally invested in the subplot of making Belichick laugh. Tom Brady, who has spent the bulk of his adulthood with the man, looked genuinely dumbfounded at how to do that.
But someone told a horrendously corny joke and got him to give what may be a mercy chuckle, but a chuckle all the same. You can hear the reporter yell with excitement, “It worked!”
So sure, bring on the intrepid woman in a wedding dress shooting her shot at Brady.
And yes please, front and center, person who for some reason cares whether Brandin Cooks knows a Ninja Turtle or not.
I’m extremely here for Brady’s complete inability to name anything relating to pop culture at all.
I live for, well, whatever in the hell this is.
The point here is that yes, the media serves an important role, but that job doesn’t have to be our best impersonation of Walter Cronkite at all times. Media Day 2014 was described like this by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King:
The NFL has credentialed so many people, and allowed so many D-list celebs to get in (and D-list wannabes), and encouraged so many babelicious types to attend, that “Circus Day” is now what Tuesday is at the Super Bowl. It’s schticky. It’s entertainment. It’s what the NFL wants. You can find a little football, but not much. I found Seattle secondary coach Marquand Manuel and had 10 good minutes with him ... but that’s only because no one else knew who he was. So we actually could talk football. An oasis! A football oasis! Talking matchups, and the intimidating factor of Kam Chancellor.
These kinds of media day scrums aren’t going to produce the quote that’ll land you a Pulitzer anyway, so why not just enjoy the thing?
This media day thing can be silly, stupid, and shamelessly entertaining. But the entire planet descends on one city for one week for a Sunday spectacle that can be silly, stupid, and shamelessly entertaining all at the same time.