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Media Day is an 'Only in America' testament to diversity and excess

Peyton ManningDenver BroncosJohn FoxSuper BowlNFLPrudential CenterSeattle Seahawks

NEWARK — There were those who were definitely looking for attention at Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday, like the guy dressed in Colonial Williamsburg-type garb or the fellow from Denmark who was dressed as the Where's Waldo character.

But Joe Piscopo wasn't seeking any camera time for himself inside the Prudential Center. He was just trying to get a picture of Peyton Manning for his young son, who was wearing Manning's No. 18 Broncos jersey.

"We're all Peyton Manning fans," Piscopo, the actor/comedian best known for his impersonations years ago on Saturday Night Live, said. "Anybody who's old in sports I tend to like."

Piscopo was beaming with pride because this Jersey Boy from Passaic, who attended nearby West Essex High, had the Super Bowl plopped in his backyard.

"I've been to Super Bowls before, but this one's special because they brought it home," he said. "It's all about New York and we certainly love the No. 1 city, but I'm so glad that the game is at MetLife Stadium and them bringing this Media Day here to Newark … this is the smartest, coolest thing they could have possibly done."

Newark, with its 277,000-plus residents, is only the 67th largest city in the country, but it became the epicenter of the sports world for more than three hours as the Broncos and Seahawks met the media in an event that should carry the "Only in America" label.

Combine media, celebrity and the Super Bowl and use New York City as the backdrop and Media Day for SB XLVIII was the ultimate in excessive extravaganzas.

Yet, somehow it seemed appropriate here in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty because Newark became a melting pot of cultures, nationalities and job statuses on Tuesday thanks to the unifying force of the NFL.

Usually, this "event" is held in the stadium hosting the game and there's 120 yards worth of elbow room.

But considering it was about 14 degrees outside when the Prudential Center doors opened, it was good that the NFL decided to take this spectacle inside even if it meant tripping over each other's camera cords and bumping into somebody's microphone while just taking a moment to look down at your cellphone.

Media people from all over the world converged on Newark to find out such important things as Paris Lenon's favorite food, or what Pete Carroll thinks about the hotel accommodations in Jersey City. An elderly woman asked Manning for a hug.

There was one guy roaming the crowded arena floor with the sole purpose of asking everyone who would be the actor they would like to portray them in a movie should one be made about their life.

Most of the marquee players were given podiums to meet the masses, but Seattle's Marshawn Lynch wasn't and that might be why he quickly grew tired of the Q-and-A and bolted after just six minutes.

Manning and Richard Sherman were given stages front and center and both entered the arena like rock stars with cameras clicking and microphones in their face.

Reporters were camped out in front of their locations more than 30 minutes in advance, and to the players' credit, both sat there and answered question after question for a full hour with equal parts of enthusiasm and exasperation.

It got so hard to see and hear Sherman at one point that reporters retreated to where loudspeakers were set up and tape recorded his words as if they were listening to the radio.

With several thousand reporters on hand and only a handful of compelling story lines to document, many scribes were hanging on Sherman's every word, hoping he'd utter something that would sizzle and sell. They knew that they weren't going to get that from the ever-cautious Manning,

This was one occasion where the guys asking the questions were often better known than those asking them.

In addition to Piscopo, some notables with press credentials included gymnast and Olympics gold medalist Gabby Douglas, who was serving as a correspondent for "Inside Edition"; actor Hank Azaria, and "America's Got Talent" host and Mariah Carey spouse Nick Cannon, who was dressed in a Broncos jersey.

And then there was Notre Dame's No. 1 fan and renowned talk show and game show host and New York native Regis Philbin asking Denver coach John Fox if he had a spot on the roster for him on Sunday.

"Honest to God, I can zoom down the field," Philbin told Fox.

"Oh, I've got a spot for you," Fox said. "You might not like the job, but I've got a spot for you."

Even players from other teams and athletes from other sports showed up. The Eagles' DeSean Jackson and the Giants' Antrel Rolle both made their way back from Hawaii and the Pro Bowl in a hurry to be part of the scene.

Former Yankees and Mets pitcher and current MLB Network analyst Al Leiter was also there, not necessarily to work, but just check out the scene.

Like Piscopo, Leiter, a Toms River native, was happy that this day unfolded in the Garden State and looks forward to the even bigger moment on Sunday night

"This is not a New York thing, this is Jersey. … the venue for the game is New Jersey," Leiter said. "It's like the Angels wanting to disguise the fact that they play in Anaheim by calling themselves Los Angeles. It's good for us. There's a great vibe here. We're making a nice showing. Hopefully, there will be no glitches and the weather will be good."

And on that, the Broncos, Seahawks, the media, and even the Where's Waldo guy could all agree.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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