NEW ORLEANS — Scenes and observations from the NFL’s annual Super Bowl media day – interviews with players and team personnel from the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers on the field at the Superdome:
Terrell Suggs stood up, threw down his microphone, kicked over his chair with a back heel as he stepped down from his podium, and then kicked over a cooler.
Onlookers laughed, satisfied that the Baltimore Ravens’ mischievous linebacker had properly punctuated the frenetic, free-for-all known as Super Bowl media day.
Suggs plays a central role in one of the more intimidating defenses in the NFL, and at least some of the conversation involved football, and what it would take to slow down San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Sunday’s NFL championship game.
But media day is never just about football, not even when the players are interviewing each other.
Posing as a reporter, defensive end Arthur Jones asked Suggs which staple of Louisiana cuisine he preferred, gumbo or jambalaya.
“That’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked that, Arthur,” Suggs said. “Definitely gumbo.”
Suggs also was asked if he is the best dancer in the locker room: “No way. `Be Nasty,’ (safety) Bernard Pollard – he’s definitely the best dancer. And I think if we get this done come Sunday, you all will get to see a good dose of it.”
And maybe even get a song from Suggs. He wasn’t shy about serenading everyone with a rendition of Meatloaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love,” moments after he took his seat behind the microphone.
Katherine Webb credits a couple of camera shots of her watching the BCS national title game in Miami with landing her at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Otherwise known as Miss Alabama USA and the girlfriend of Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron, Webb has been hired by TV’s “Inside Edition” to be its game correspondent.
“It’s so exciting and absolutely crazy at the same time. It’s happened so fast. I feel like I’m living on a plane but it’s a great journey,” said Webb, who was making her first trip to New Orleans for her first Super Bowl.
The 23-year-old Webb has been working on a fledgling modeling and acting career in Los Angeles.
“It’s kind of funny how everything kind of lines up to me being at this point,” said Webb, explaining that it all started with meeting McCarron while at home in Alabama late last year.
She was hired to interview players and coaches during media day, but wound up being interviewed herself. A colleague had to cut it short a few times, apologetically explaining that Webb had a job to do.
She said she prepped for the job.
“A.J. is interviewed all the time, so it’s kind of cool to ask him, `What do I need to ask and what do I need to stay away from? What annoys players the most to be asked?”’ she said.
Webb created a buzz at the BCS game when she was caught on camera and play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger enthusiastically remarked that quarterbacks “get all the good-looking women.” ESPN later apologized for the comments.
Webb, however, never thought an apology was necessary.
“Everybody seems to think that I’m offended and I’m not at all,” she said. “I appreciate it. I appreciate the fact that he notices a beautiful woman. Women need to be told their beautiful more often. I took no offense to it.”
For the second year in a row, Super Bowl media day was open to fans for the price of a $25 ticket. They were allowed to sit in sections of seats along the sideline with good views of players on the field, and paid attendance was 5,479, according to NFL spokesman Michael Signora.
When fans walked in, they were given gift bags that included small radios so they could listen to interviews. Other items were mostly product samples from sponsors, including chips and laundry detergent.
Among the fans were John Grimsley and Lisa Wyatt of Baltimore, sitting together a few rows from the field wearing purple jerseys with the No. 52 of star Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. They said the ticket price was worth it.
“This is a very rare experience,” said Grimsley, who has Ravens season tickets and tickets to Sunday’s big game. “I’ve never been to anything like this. To be able to see all the Ravens being interviewed, to see some of these guys up close, you don’t really get to see that when you go to the games. They’re there and then they’re gone.”
The NFL says 5,205 reporters from 24 countries have credentials for the game, and some chose to work in costume at media day.
There was a correspondent from the Nickelodeon television network dressed as a super hero called Pick Boy, wearing black tights with a cape and trim of fluorescent orange and green.
Pick Boy approached 49ers practice squad linebacker Nate Stupar, asking him if he wanted to race. Stupar declined, saying he wasn’t about to risk pulling any muscles for something like that.
“I would say that’s the first time I got interviewed by a guy with a cape on,” Stupar said. “It’s entertainment and it’s going to be fun to be around the entire week.”
Univision radio play-by-play announcer Rafael Hernandez Brito wore a Spanish-style wrestling mask for part of the session.
TV Azteca reporter Jose Marquez Zamora looked like a rodeo clown, with his painted face, round rubber nose and long, pointy shoes covered with light blue sequins. He said he was, in fact, dressed as a typical clown in Monterrey, Mexico, and wasn’t concerned about whether his interview subjects took him seriously.
“I don’t make interviews about serious stuff,” he said. “I only have fun with the players, so our viewers in Mexico get interesting stuff and also get entertained.”
Niners offensive lineman Alex Boone was asked about his hair style, which looks similar to a mohawk – Boone calls it a rhino hawk – and whether he had the best hair on the team.
“Absolutely. I think I get it from my mom’s side,” Boone said. “My mom’s got great hair.”
He added that he never in his career had been asked about his hair in a football interview, and then reflected on how the range of questions on media day truly sets it apart from a typical NFL interview session.
“Weird. Very weird. A lot of questions coming this way and some of them aren’t football-related, which creeps me out a little bit,” Boone said. “But it’s a trip, and I’m excited to be here.”
When players and coaches were asked to play along with a joke about the growing influence of social media in everyday communication, results were mixed and appeared to expose the generation gap between some players and coaches.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and others were asked to answer some questions in hash tags only. The tags, which might look like (hash)SuperBowl on the website Twitter, are used to help social media users identify trendy topics.
“That would be very challenging to me,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know the hash tag world that well. I don’t have one. I don’t have a Tweeter (sic). I’m not real good at that.”
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was more cooperative, answering several questions in a row about his Super Bowl experience as a rookie with, “Hash tag, awesome.”
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.