Super Bowl

Super Bowl opening night features players, media and characters

If this had been a Halloween contest, the guy in orange would’ve won, hands down.

Even if you couldn’t see his hands. Or any part of him, for that matter. These are the wonders of a bright-orange body suit, too snug in all the wrong places, and better suited perhaps for navigating through dense fog than this setting.

Super Bowl opening night, known as media day for decades, at SAP Center in San Jose on Monday was a stampede of media hustling from one spot to another, jockeying for position to nab a sound bite. Players were introduced to a roar of the some 7,000 fans who attended in this hockey venue, each paying $30 a pop. Athletes walked across a makeshift gold replica of the Golden Gate Bridge to commemorate the golden anniversary of sports’ grandest extravaganza, then settled into their seats to get grilled.

This is also when the circus comes to town, credentialed media from around the globe wading through the masses to be seen and heard, and to ask a question or two. Take the guy in orange. His name is Aaron Matas, a sports reporter from 9News in Denver. No one could sense any shame from the man because you couldn’t see any skin.

“Trying to have a good time,” Matas said joyously. “I did this for the World Cup, when I was in red, white and blue. There’s some anonymity to this, which allows me to do this.”

Said Denver reserve linebacker Danny Trevathan, who rolled with Orange Man’s questions, “I can now say I’ve seen it all.”

There were other characters, too. The guy in a full ski outfit, helmet, head lamp and all. Wait a minute. Perhaps it was a getup for climbing around caves, and he was spelunking the room for a sound bite.

Nearby, a reporter from TV Azteca engaged in a spirited interview. With himself. He went back and forth with two hand puppets. On his own hands.

The most familiar character was Rocky, the Colorado Leprechaun. He’s a Broncos fan, to the core, and this is his seventh Super Bowl with the franchise.

Rocky looked the part, with huge ears – not sure if they’re real or not – the shoes, the hat, the facial growth. This isn’t just a fun time for Rocky. It’s business. He hammed it up for every photo opportunity and handed out business cards with his phone number, email address, “Go Broncos!” and “email me a copy of your pictures of me!”

So, one has to be a bit off balance to prance around a place in this sort of look, eh, Rocky?

“No, no, quite the opposite,” Rocky said, turning serious. “I’ve been rooting for the Broncos at games for 33 years. People need to smile, need to laugh. We live in a hard world. Why not live it up a little?”

And the chap in the gold superhero outfit with black cape and black mask? Don’t ask. We didn’t.

The most regal and tallest “reporter” was Arik Armstead, the 49ers rookie defensive end and the pride of Pleasant Grove High School. Armstead was on site to as part of the News10 crew, and he delighted in interviewing his pal Shaq Thompson, the Carolina Panthers rookie linebacker with Grant High roots.

“I’m getting better at this,” Armstead said, learning to pull his mic back from his subject when he spoke.

Tedy Bruschi experienced five Super Bowl media scrums as a member of the New England Patriots. The former Roseville High star, now an ESPN analyst, said he enjoyed the festival here. This is the first time the media event was in prime time, and it included more fans than ever.

“The NFL has made this into a show, and it’s really cool,” Bruschi said. “Good job, NFL. This is an awesome opening night atmosphere.”

Player responses to questions varied from the ho-hum to the amusing. Denver tight end Virgil Green on what he misses about his native Tulare, “You’re going to laugh, but I miss the smell.”

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall on the weirdest question of the day, “ ‘If Cam Newton is Superman, does that mean the Broncos’ defense is Batman?’ I said, ‘No, because I don’t believe Batman can beat Superman.’ We’re whatever’s above Superman.”

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning on Newton’s penchant for celebrating scoring runs, “If I rush for a touchdown on Sunday, believe me, I’ll be celebrating.”

And Manning on his thoughts on the Iowa Caucus, “I’m rooting for the Broncos. I’m a meathead football player.”

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

The particulars

  • Who: Denver Broncos
  • vs. Carolina Panthers
  • When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: Levi’s Stadium
  • TV/radio: Ch. 13, 1140
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