By Steve Keating
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – For the New England Patriots, the wackiness of Super Bowl Opening Night was routine but for the Philadelphia Eagles Monday’s scenes, including being interviewed by a shark, were as bizarre as they come.
Certainly Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, making their eighth Super Bowl appearance together, strolled into the arena to face reporters with a ‘been-there-done-that’ aura undaunted by anything they were asked or saw.
But for the Eagles, back in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2005, diving into the anything-goes media mosh pit was as chilling as the freezing Minnesota weather.
Once a journalists-only event the National Football League has transformed Media Day into Opening Night, a televised prime time question-and-answer free-for-all where very little is out of bounds.
“This could never get old,” said Brady, surrounded by a wall of cameras and reporters. “It’s amazing it gets bigger every year.
“I remember when we just use to go out and stand on the field for 45 minutes now look at this, it’s a big event.”
Crackling fireworks and thumping music provide the soundtrack as thousands of gridiron-mad fans paid for the excitement of watching the world’s media do their job.
It is a surreal scene where the giants of sports journalism rub shoulders with interlopers from the world of entertainment and late-night television.
A place where super heroes, super models and the super annoying shout to have their questions heard above unimpressed NFL beat writers and columnists.
The irreverent tone of past Opening Nights, however, was dialed down several notches at the Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, on Monday, as many of the usual cast of cartoon characters were not drawn to this year’s event.
Brady did not have to field any wedding proposals as he had in the past or take questions from an impersonator wearing a Tom Brady mask.
But the Patriots quarterback was still tossed a couple of Hail Mary’s when one woman asked if he could name characters from the popular fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” and did he know who Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was dating?
The Eagles also got in on the fun as a television reporter dressed as a shark circled his prey.
Defensive end Brandon Graham did his interview wearing a dog mask, while tight end Zach Ertz was interviewed by wife Julie, a midfielder and World Cup winner with the U.S. women’s soccer team.
“Julie won a World Cup like two years ago I need to hold up my end of the bargain,” Ertz said. “Obviously I’ve got a lot of pressure on me I don’t know how I am going to sleep at night.”
(Editing by John O’Brien)