Originally created 01/26/99

Media Day a 'necessary evil'

MIAMI -- Four times Cornelius Bennett has advanced to the Super Bowl, and four times the Bill-turned-Falcon linebacker survived the annual cattle call that is Super Bowl Media Day.

It's not a pretty picture for anyone involved.

The event, which has each player and coach from both the Falcons and Denver Broncos dispersed throughout Pro Player Stadium for separate 60-minute interview sessions, has become an event unto itself. Its absurdity was highlighted a year ago in San Diego, when Comedy Central dispatched a crew and asked offensive linemen from the Broncos and Packers to lift Daily Show correspondent Beth Littleford in an informal competition of strength.

The day is symbolic for herd journalism at its worst. With more than 3,000 media members assembling in South Florida to cover the NFL's title game Sunday, the easiest way to provide sound bites and fill notebooks from players and coaches was to make them all accessible for one day, said Greg Aiello, the NFL's head of media relations.

"There's too many people here to try and have every single person corraled after practice like you would in a normal week," Aiello said.

There's nothing normal about Super Bowl week. Convenience falls in line behind chaos.

Packers public relations head Lee Remmel recalled that 338 media members congregated to Los Angeles for Super Bowl I. This year more than 400 foreign media received credentials.

Bennett knows what to expect when his Falcons arrive in jerseys at 8:30 this morning -- an endless swarm of cameras and tape recorders, everyone looking for their own special nugget; repeated questions at different times of the morning; the potential badgering in an attempt to draw out the inflammatory.

"This is a necessary evil of the week," Bennett said. "I've had to talk to guys to let them know why we need this and what's going to be happening. There are guys who will get podiums to stand on, and there are guys who won't. There are guys who will be busy all morning answering the same questions over and over, and there will be guys who will just sit around and no one will talk to them. This is a day to check your egos at the door, deal with it and move on.

"You'd rather have to go through something like that than playing golf or sleeping in."

It is at Media Day when many of the world's most insensitive, patronizing and moronic questions have been asked.

The first hints of such eyebrow-raising dimensions came Sunday, when a reporter not named Barbara Walters prodded Chris Chandler with, "If you were to describe your offense like a car, what kind of car would it be?"

To which Chandler cleverly sidestepped by saying, "I'm not that smart to answer that question."

There was the time during Super Bowl XXII between Denver and Washington, when Redskins quarterback Doug Williams was asked, "Have you always been a black quarterback?"

Rick Dorsey can be reached at (706) 823-3219 or rdorsey@augustachronicle.com.


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