We're not in the business of predicting Super Bowl winners, but we can guarantee there will be lots of stupid questions asked of the participants.
The annual Super Bowl tradition known as Media Day—rechristened "Super Bowl Opening Night" this year—has come to represent the NFL at its silliest. It’s the place where a Japanese reporter once asked of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, “Tell me, why do they call you Boomer?” (Well, they don’t actually. That would be Boomer Esiason, the Cincinnati quarterback.)
It’s where someone asked Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Joe Salave’a, “What’s your relationship with the football?” To which Salave’a said, “I’d say it’s strictly platonic.”
Media Day is where a St. Louis player found himself pondering the grammatical conundrum contained within the question, “Is Ram a noun or a verb?”
Where Rams’ quarterback Kurt Warner was asked, “Do you believe in voodoo and can I have a lock of your hair?”
Where Denver running back Detron Smith was asked, “What size panties do you think you’d wear?”
And it's where Downtown Julie Brown, formerly of MTV, asked Dallas running back Emmitt Smith, “What are you going to wear in the game Sunday?”
Asked how he got psyched to play in big games, Buffalo’s great running back Thurman Thomas sniffed, “I read the newspapers and look at all the stupid questions you all ask.”
Not Quite as Stupid
An urban legend grew that Washington quarterback Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl, was asked, “How long have you been a black quarterback?”
That's not exactly what happened. ESPN.com cleared it up. The reporter knew Williams. He also knew Williams was tired of hearing about race. So the question was more along the lines of, “Doug, obviously you’ve been a black quarterback all along. When did it suddenly become important?”
Exactly as Stupid
I wasn't there for that tortured exchange. But I was in the group of reporters at Super Bowl XV when Oakland quarterback Jim Plunkett was asked a question that makes every Super Bowl list. And this one wasn't staged by a TV or radio personality. As sports writers we have to own this one.
Plunkett had just answered a question about his parents. He spoke in low, respectful tones about growing up in a special needs household, that his mother was blind and that his father, also blind, had passed away.
Five more topics came and went after Plunkett mentioned his parents. A reporter from the Philadelphia press corps, a guy I once worked with at another paper, jumped in. He was a columnist. He wasn't there to write about the blitz. Plunkett's family situation was far more intriguing to him.
He tried two or three times to ask a follow-up. But he kept losing the floor to reporters who timed their questions better or who were close enough to make eye contact with Plunkett, or who simply spoke up louder.
Finally, he forced his way back into the interview.
"Jimmy, Jimmy, I want to make sure I have this right. Was it dead mother, blind father or blind mother, dead father?"
It's going to be a long week.
This post originally appeared in 2010. Bud Shaw is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has also written for the Philadelphia Daily News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The National. You can read his Plain Dealer columns at Cleveland.com.