As serious sports fans and public-relations professionals, Michael Clark and I could not wait to attend the first-ever NFL Super Bowl Media Day open to the public. Despite the fact that we couldn’t get onto the field and experience the craziness up close, we were comfortable in our seats positioned directly in front of both teams’ quarterbacks. Being huge Colts fans, we naturally will be cheering for Eli Manning and the Giants on Sunday, but on Media Day we wanted to find out which team “performed” better under the deluge of questions from thousands of reporters from across the globe.
After a long day at Lucas Oil Stadium, I asked Michael which team he thought won the interview and much to my surprise, he retorted with the Patriots—wrong answer. Since we couldn’t agree on which team was better at managing the press, we opted not to “leave it on the field” but put it all on the table (see below). Too bad we couldn’t take this into overtime.
Laura: Why I think the Giants won
My criteria for selecting the “winning” team was simple: which team best answered the world’s media questions with ease and did not get too taken aback by wacko questions? Answers need to offer fans a somewhat balanced insight into their personal lives, team dynamics and Super Bowl strategy. By the time the day was over, the New York Giants won by field goal—it was a close game, but the Giants pulled out the win.
Going into Media Day, Eli Manning knew many of his questions would revolve around the status of his older brother’s, Peyton, future with the Indianapolis Colts. In the end, I think nearly half of Eli’s questions had nothing to do with him. Throughout it all, he maintained his patience, composure and at times offered a glimpse into the Mannings’ childhood antics and family dynamic.
Head coach Tom Coughlin seemed relaxed, focused, and showed some personality. He answered each question as though he were having an individual conversation with the reporter. Every time I tuned in to hear safety Antrel Rolle respond to a question, he was either thanking someone from the team, a family member or friend or the U.S. military. He seemed like someone who understood the significance of the week ahead and was grateful to be in his position. The humble card won him a few points in my book.
But the player who sealed the Giants’ win over the Patriots on Media Day was Victor Cruz. Unlike Eli, who has been in front of the media since he started playing college football, Victor Cruz is still somewhat new to the spotlight. However, he answered each question succinctly, thoughtfully and in many cases, in Spanish. For those who don’t know, Cruz is Puerto Rican. He clued the audience into his knowledge of Latin dance, and spoke often about his breakout season and college career. He provided a great balance of personal/professional information.
The Patriots offered excellent interviews too, but when presented with off-the-wall questions too many of their players struggled.
Michael: Why I think the Patriots won
As a die-hard Colts fan, it pains me deeply to admit that the New England Patriots outscored the New York Giants on media day. My criterion for rating the teams was based on a simple premise: be candid, entertaining and provide insight that goes beyond the football field. While probably not a surprise to some, Tom Brady—or as he’s affectionately referred to by Patriot fans, Tom Terrific—was the MVP of media day. He provided insight into his family life, introspective into his approach to football and even played to the crowd of 7,000 fans, many from Indianapolis, who were in attendance. Brady carefully evaded questions that could only be described as off-the-wall and bizarre. I mean, seriously, how would you answer the question, “Will you have the power of the divine beast on Sunday?”
Overall, the Patriots seemed to be more comfortable in front of the large contingent of media. Even media darling Bill Belichick (cough, cough) seemed pleasant. He joked that Colts fans may actually like him after his infamous 4th and 2 call that spurred one of the most exciting comebacks in NFL history. And he reminisced on his old coaching days as a defensive coordinator with Giants.Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Chad OchoCinco and Aaron Hernandez all provided similarly entertaining interviews that were both colorful and insightful.
While they may have been the winner on media day, I just hope they interview a lot better than they play football on Super Bowl Sunday. Go Giants!
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