PHOENIX (Reuters) - If the Super Bowl is one of the greatest one-day sporting events then Media Day is the ultimate football freak show, a zany mix of journalism, superheroes and players in an anything-goes media mosh pit.
The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, who will meet in Sunday’s NFL championship, faced the media mob on Tuesday as thousands of reporters circled the floor during a question-and-answer free-for-all watched by thousands of fans in attendance.
Very little is off limits at the annual Super Bowl Media Day.
Without a hint of shame, “Entertainment Tonight” reporters can ask Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to sing a Katy Perry song or New England coach Bill Belichick can get quizzed on what his favorite Joe Pesci movie is - and actually get an answer.
Strangely, it’s also a day where retired figure skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, now fashion critics and red carpet interviewers, can work the room and not look out of place.
And if the scene is not surreal enough, it is a place where award-winning journalists struggle to have their questions heard above those from another accredited member of the media wearing a barrel and cowboy hat or a guy in a superhero costume.
There are players interviewing players, and television correspondents conducting intense interviews with mascots. Kids with microphones jockey for position with glamorous Mexican television presenters in towering high heels.
While Media Day has developed an irreverent tone and fun-filled vibe it is also very serious business for the National Football League.
The event has grown from a one-off chance for reporters to fill their notebooks into a fixture of Super Bowl week, the league selling tickets to the chaotic spectacle for $28.50.
Some players, such as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was taking part in his sixth Media Day, embrace the experience by smiling throughout the one-hour session and answering every question - no matter how strange.
For others, like media-shy Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, it is the worst kind of torture. A man of few words, Lynch had just seven words for the hundreds of media gathered around his podium.
“I’m here so I won’t get fined,” Lynch said in response to every question he faced.
Lynch spent five minutes repeating that phrase to 30 different questions before shouting “time” and walking away from the microphone, leaving others to explain the enigmatic running back.
“He is probably one of the best teammates I have ever been around,” said Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin. “He is a comedian.
“Obviously he doesn’t like talking to the media because that is just not him.
“We all know him in the locker room as the true teddy bear that he is and we love him for it because like I said he is one of the best teammates we have been around.”
Editing by Frank Pingue