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What is Super Bowl Media Day?

Posted Feb 2, 2016

Blame it on Downtown Julie Brown. Once upon a time, Super Bowl Media Day was precisely that, a day (well, only ever a couple of hours, really) set aside for journalists to mingle with players from each of the teams involved in the NFL’s championship game.

As Dan Wetzel noted in a piece for Yahoo over the weekend, to begin with the whole event was very casual. “At Super Bowl III,” he recalled, “some reporters wandered over to a hotel pool and asked Joe Namath a few questions from a deck chair.”

Over time, Media Day became more structured - players appearing at podiums with microphones and team communications staff in close attendance. But it was the attendance of Brown, an English-born MTV host known for her flirtatious demeanour, in 1991 that would begin to shift the tone of the event away from a straight-laced sporting conversation towards something more whimsical.

Mingling in with the beat writers and broadcasters, Brown eschewed questions about the game in favour of complimenting the players on their dimples and asking them to hand over their trousers. Returning in subsequent years, she became a part of the show in her own right. In 1993, when Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson was asked if he had any special rules in place for his players, he replied: “Yeah, don't kiss Julie Brown."

Along the way, the tone of the event began to shift. Witnessing the popularity of Brown’s schtick, other broadcasters followed suit by sending colourful personalities of their own. By 2008, we had the scene of TV Azteca’s Ines Gómez Mont proposing to Tom Brady live on air.

The NFL, recognising the growing interest in the event, began to allow fans in to watch Media Day live in person - beginning with the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. And this year, for the first time, they moved the event from the Tuesday before the title game to the Monday evening, rebranding it as Super Bowl Opening Night and putting it in a prime time TV slot for fans on the east coast.

And so it was, that a national audience got to see Von Miller answer questions about which team-mates he would want to help him fight off an alien invasion, Josh Norman don a Mexican wrestling mask and Cam Newton confess that he did not know who Taylor Swift was dating.

There were one or two football-related questions along the way. Newton showed his confidence in stating that the Panthers would beat the Broncos if both teams played to their best. Peyton Manning studiously dodged questions about his mooted retirement.

Both men will doubtless find themselves answering the same questions over again plenty more times in the days ahead.

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