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Media day circus tent comes to U.S. Airways Center

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It’s Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street and a party at Jay Gatsby’s house with both Super Bowl teams and more than 2,000 media members invited, all crammed into an area roughly the size of a basketball court.

Add in a helping of a stubborn running back who refuses to talk and super fans who paid $28.50 just to watch it happen, and what comes out the other side is one of the most prominent events on the annual sports calendar.

Super Bowl Media Day.

“I’m just taking it all in,” New England Patriots linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

The players are available for interviews but often the reporters themselves become the story. Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson challenged Patriots practice squad wide receiver Jonathan Krause to do a handstand as she demonstrated the same athletic feat; he couldn’t do it.

Then there was Telemundo reporter Karim Contreras, known by his alias “Mr. Selfie,” who had eight Go-Pro cameras attached to his body on top of football pads and a helmet.

“I have to cover all the angles for my colleagues,” Contreras said. “Why have one camera when you can have eight cameras? I’m well prepared and the players are going to love me.”

ASU senior quarterback Mike Bercovici and safety Jordan Simone interviewed Patriots and Seattle Seahawks players for the local NBC affiliate while the ASU pep band provided part of the media day soundtrack at U.S. Airways Center.

Bercovici approached New England backup rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and asked him how many Hail Marys he had completed in his football career. He quickly replied, “None. “

“Boom!” Bercovici said to Garoppolo. “1-0 Berco,” referring to the pass he threw to Jaelen Strong to beat USC.

“It’s kind of funny being in the media’s shoes,” Bercovici said. “It’s just an exciting thing for us as football players aspiring to be at this media day one day.”

Garoppolo went home the bigger winner, though. At his side was an Xbox 360 he said he received after singing the second part of a chorus to a Katie Perry song he couldn’t, or maybe refused, to identify to the media.

“You watch it (media day) on TV and you try and get yourself prepared but you can’t really prepare for this,” Garoppolo said. “You just got to go about your business same as always so I think I’m prepared for it.”

Also present was actor J.B. Smoove, helping Rich Eisen conduct interviews for his podcast. Smoove’s voice was one of the loudest.

“I’m here to represent the common man, and you know who you are,” Smoove said in character. “How do you not want to be entertained? I’m speaking for you. I’m doing you a favor.”

As Patriots backup wide receiver Brian Tyms salsa danced with a reporter from Mexican television station “Televisa,” former professional golfer and Golf Channel analyst David Feherty watched with a contorted face from across the aisle.

Feherty is in town covering the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, and decided to take in media day.

“I’ve been to a couple actually but this is just as pointless as any of the rest,” he said jokingly. “The 16th hole (at TPC Scottsdale) is like this, just with more alcohol involved.”

Among the bright lights, reporters, celebrities, Sports Center and NFL Network sets and high-profile athletes stood Patriots backup offensive lineman Josh Kline.

He twiddled his thumbs and waited for someone to notice him. No matter how big the event, some people still get lost in the crowd, even athletes.

“I just want to go back to the hotel,” Kline said.

So, apparently, did Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. Known for not answering the media’s questions, Lynch answered with one simple phrase 25 times in front of more than 200 reporters.

“I’m here so I don’t get fined.”

Lynch approached his podium to the fanfare of a heavyweight fighter, caught a bag of skittles from the crowd and left after five minutes, the minimum time set by the NFL for players to answer questions during the hour session.

Too often, the questions aren’t worth answering.

Reporter to Seahawks corner Richard Sherman: “What is the gas station food that you always get every time you go?”


Reporter to Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor: “You’re both physical, big, imposing presences — how do you think you compare to Katy Perry?

Chancellor laughed and said he doesn’t listen to her but he knows her songs.

Watching all this unfold was 12-year-old Ridge Docekao, a sixth grader from Chandler, who, with permission from his dad, skipped school to attend media day. His sign read, “Help me meet Tom Brady.”

“He’s my idol,” Docekao said. “He didn’t start out as a great quarterback but he kept working and now he’s one of the greatest quarterback of the NFL.”

The chaotic session lasted three hours but now it’s down to business for both teams. Former Dallas Cowboys legend Michael Irvin said it’s about removing the distractions.

“Everything up to this point has been about the spectacle of the Super Bowl,” said Irvin, a three time Super Bowl champion. “Wednesday, you drop everything and start preparing like it’s a normal football game.”