(AFP) – Jan 29, 2008
PHOENIX, Arizona (AFP) — Marriage proposals, a mother's boy and a monkey puppet were all in the mix Tuesday as Super Bowl silliness reached its zenith with the free-for-all called Media Day.
To be sure, the New England Patriots and New York Giants addressed the serious business of their week in Arizona - the battle for the National Football League championship.
For the Patriots, a victory in Sunday's title game would make them just the second team in NFL history, along with the 1972 Miami Dolphins, to complete a perfect campaign.
The underdog Giants are bidding to prevent the Pats from grabbing that particular slice of history, and bring a title back to championship-starved New York, which last boasted a Super Bowl champion when the Giants won in 1991.
Patriots players shied away from pronunciations on any added signficance that their so-far perfect season has given the game.
"We focus on the game, not on the history," said Patriots safety Rodney Harrison. "After the game, if you take care of business, you can focus on history. Right now is the time to focus on the Giants."
However, focusing for long on anything was an impressive feat for players on either team as they fielded questions from the Super Bowl press contingent, which this year numbers a record 4,786.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, whose movie star looks and super model girlfriend have seen his celebrity transcend sports, dealt with aplomb with a shouted-out marriage propsal from TV Azteca's Ines Gomez-Mont, who was clad in a mini-skirted wedding dress accessorized by red high heels.
Brady laughed and politely declined, then just as politely pondered questions as to his favorite band - U2 - and which actor he thought should play him in a movie.
"Mel Gibson," Brady said, then reconsidered. "Tom Hanks, he's the best, right?"
While Brady was asked how he felt about being the "stud of the NFL" - "I don't know how to answer that question" - Giants quarterback Eli Manning was asked if he considered himself a mother's boy.
"I'm not ashamed of it," said Manning, the youngest son in a famous football family who recalled building a close relationship with his mom after his older brothers, including last year's Super Bowl MVP Peyton, had left home for university and beyond.
While Brady and Manning held court at specially erected podiums alongside the field at the futuristic University of Phoenix Stadium, less exalted team members wandered through the throng stopping to answer questions and savoring the spectacle.
The antics of Media Day, which also included another TV Azteca reporter asking questions through his monkey puppet, Charly, bear just a tenuous connection to football.
But they are part of what makes the Super Bowl, in the words of the NFL, an international mega event.
The global television audience on Sunday will likely exceed 100 million. Tickets with a face value of 700 dollars are expected to re-sell for upwards of 4,000 dollars.
The halftime show by Tom Petty and the specially crafted television ads designed to capitalize on the game's enormous audience will garner national attention and critical reviews worth of Oscar contenders.
But for the Giants and Patriots, Wednesday will mark a return of a fierce focus on football.
"When we come together on Wednesday, we've got a lot of work to do, and we can't waste a second from that point on," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. "That's what I've challenged the players with.
"I've asked them that when we do have the opportunity to finally complete our responsibilities with the media and what-have-you, that when we start to go to the meetings and our preparation work resumes, that they give us total focus and concentration."
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