Usually day 1 of Super Bowl Week is just getting settled on Radio Row and saying HI to all your media buddies you see once a year at the Super Bowl. But this year the NFL shifted “Media Day” to Monday night, from Tuesday morning, and some 2,000 media members from around the world converged in San Jose at the SAP Center.
Usually the same ‘ole wackiness ensues and it’s pretty entertaining in a reality-TV-kind-of-way.
But here are some things I picked up on that I think will impact the game and the week’s coverage:
- Luke Kuechly talked about how Sean McDermott sculpted his teaching to Luke’s learning and helped him absorb the defense and how he could become better in pass coverage. I found that fascinating because a) Luke came into the league and everyone knew what a smart, instinctive player he was. Sure, making the transition from college to the pros is usually tough. But not for Luke. He was ROY and then defensive POY. So it was interesting to hear him speak about his struggles and how much he appreciated McDermott finding a way to teach him that made sense, uniquely, to him. b) the guy is arguably the best defensive player in the league and he was thanking his coach for “Finding a way to make it make sense to me.” That’s why this team has been successful. The coaches make it make sense to the players, rather than just expecting it to make sense to the players.
- Jared Allen LOVES this team. He spoke at length, after reminiscing with me about Big Sky Conference football, that the ‘cliches’ we hear and talk about are all true with the Panthers. He credited head coach Ron Rivera with building the culture that allowed each guy “53 alpha-males” as he put it, to “believe no one is better than the next.” And then he reiterated multiple times, “And it’s real.” I’m not sure how much more he could have done to convince anyone and everyone within ear shot that this team’s intentions are pure, but he convinced me.
- Ron Rivera didn’t give a press conference, he gave a motivational speech. “Don’t let anyone tell you no that doesn’t have the authority to tell you yes.” The best quote you’ll hear when being crushed between 2 massive camera dudes for various parts of the globe. He was asked simple questions about Cam and didn’t just offer approval of his QB, but philosophy about his greatness and how others with perhaps a little less physical talent could achieve greatness as well. It was easy to see why players would run through walls for him.
- The Panthers were a blast to hang out it. And they all said their locker room is a blast to hang out in.
- Meanwhile, Peyton Manning was quite introspective and reflective and his usual charming self. I asked why fans should believe him when so many other big-time athletes had denied usage and yet were guilty. Manning looked me in the eye as he offered the same defense he’s used multiple times so he’s either a really good liar or the report is false. I want to believe Manning, but it’s tough to do so.
- Von Miller said he didn’t have a sack-dance to offer Super Bowl fans. Guess he’ll leave that up to the Panthers.
- Speaking of the Panthers dancing: Mike Tolbert said he did NOT practice the Carlton before busting it out after scoring!
More coming up tomorrow!!
And if you want an amazing place to stay while in Northern California, I highly recommend The Sonoma Valley Inn!! I’m in the Jack London Suite writing this by a fire, overlooking the mountains!