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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.
The Super Bowl is often described in terms of a test -- a test of mettle, test of courage, a test of wills.
But today we heard a new one: The Flush Test.
A photographers meeting at Ford Field was interrupted today by a loud voice across the P.A. system.
"ATTENTION! THE FLUSH TEST WILL COMMENCE IN TWO MINUTES!"
We all looked at each other...."did he just say...?"
I remembered seeing dozens and dozens of Super Bowl jacketed volunteers making their way into the stadium shortly prior (okay, they're officially called "Super Bowl Ambassadors").
A minute later: "ATTENTION! THE FLUSH TEST WILL BEGIN IN ONE MINUTE!"
And a minute later: "BEGIN FLUSHING".
And shortly thereafter, "PLEASE STOP FLUSHING....WE WILL DO A 2ND FLUSH IN APPROXIMATELY ONE MINUTE. THIS TIME WE WILL FLUSH FOR TWO MINUTES."
One learns many things covering a Super Bowl. Today we learned that one job of a Super Bowl Ambassador is to well, test all the toilets in the stadium to make sure they can withstand the halftime rush.
-- Rod Mar
For all the Detroit bashing going on -- and I did some Detroit bashing myself on Monday -- the people working in the city for the Super Bowl have been beyond kind. As you'd expect, the media pepper them with questions, and they always smile and ask how your day is going and genuinely -- unlike most athletes -- seem to enjoy the presence of the media.
-- Greg Bishop
During Monday's first interview session, a writer I respect from Boston told me he was going to do a story on East Coast bias and how it's affecting the Seahawks. He said the Seahawks have been complaining for some weeks now about a lack of respect and he was surprised that even though Pittsburgh was the sixth seed in the AFC and the Seahawks the top seed in the NFC, the Steelers were hovering at about a four-point favorite. He asked me if all of this had anything to do with an East Coast bias.
I told him I don't think it did. There never was an East Coast bias toward the Oakland Raiders when they were going to Super Bowls, or the San Francisco 49ers when they were winning.
The reason it has taken the country so long to warm to the Seahawks is because it has taken the Hawks 20 years to get warm. When you don't win a playoff game for two decades, you fall off the national radar. Even in Seattle, I believe, there was all kinds of skepticism all season long. The Northwest didn't begin to get excited about this team until Jay Feely missed three field goals in November and the Hawks beat the New York Giants. And the truth in this season wasn't evident until Matt Hasselbeck led the team in the second half of the first playoff game against Washington.
The Hawks are for real. It's just that the country hasn't been paying attention. That's what Super Bowl XL is all about.
Hometown hero and Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was the talk on the town. He received a key to the city today and was the main topic of discussion at Media Day.
Here Bettis talks about playing the Super Bowl in Detroit.
The Pittsburgh Steelers portion of Super Bowl Media Day had just ended, and a brunch is laid out for about 500 members of the media on the concourse at Ford Field before the Seahawks take their turn before the cameras in the afternoon.
Despite all the security surrounding this week's event, "free," "brunch" and "media" are a dangerous mix.
Fingers have been lost in the fray as overweight, overfed reporters jostle for positions in line for a free meal of runny eggs and greasy bacon.
Media members pursue a defenseless sausage the way Troy Polamalu chases down a fleeing quarterback.
Stain-resistant Dockers are no match for a helpless plate of pasta salad.
The good news, like last night's incident involving the Seahawks van, is that no injuries have been reported so far.
I just couldn't come to the Super Bowl and miss this. Having seen the spectacle that is Super Bowl Media Day year after year on TV, I was glad to be there in person.
First off, going into Ford Field was nice because Comerica Park, the current home of baseball's Detroit Tigers, is a very charming-looking ballpark. Loved the ferris wheel made of giant baseballs and the statues of pouncing tigers all around the stadium.
Once inside, the madness began. Every Seahawk, it seemed, was being interviewed by someone for some reason. Practice squad guys, backups, coaches, executives, everyone.
Cornerback Jimmy Williams was bouncing about as he always seems to do, full of energy as he mugged for teammates' cameras and recorded stuff of his own. Long snapper J.P. Darche fielded questions in French from Canadian and European reporters.
Comedians Tom Arnold and Gilbert Gottfried interviewed players, Gottfried picking up some dance steps from Williams. And model/TV personality Melyssa Ford was getting any interviews she wanted as Seahawks flocked to her side wherever she went.
But my own personal highlight? Walking up to where defensive end Joe Tafoya was talking to some reporters from Mexico. Joe and I, both of us being of Mexican descent, always talk about our culture when we're back in Seattle.
"And we even have a Hispanic reporter who covers the team!" he said. It was a little embarrassing, but made me feel proud just the same. And I was happy that he got his few moments in the spotlight on Media Day.
-- Jose Romero
If Las Vegas is Disneyland for adults, then Super Bowl media day is Disneyland for sports reporters.
Other than the game itself, this is surely the bigger conglomeration of sports media in one place. But compared to Sunday, when the focus is solely on the event" the media is also as big a part of the story on media day as the players.
Several players toted cameras around to film the 60-minute scene. And as much time as reporters interviewed players was spent hobnobbing with each other" this is truly a convention of sports media as much as it is a game.
This being my first Super Bowl media day, I have nothing else to compare it to. But several vets I talked with said this is one of the tamer affairs in recent years" no Downtown Julie Brown running around asking players which tree they'd be if they were a tree.
There was the cliché question that non-sports reporters like to ask of players" what is the stupidest question you've heard today?" an attempt to make fun of the proceedings.
But few of the players I heard could come up with one, such as Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior. So the reporter asked "what's your favorite color?" and Farrior said "that's pretty dumb, so there you go."
-- Bob Condotta
Super Bowl Media Day is the one chance all week for the thousands of assembled media to get access to all the players and coaches for interviews and photographs. The sessions last one hour. It's a decent opportunity for writers, television and radio members. But for still photographers, it's a challenge.
I catch one photographer kneeling on the ground, taking a photo of a cameraman shooting an interview. I think it's pretty funny until someone points out that I was taking a photo of another guy taking a photo of another guy taking a photo.
Everyone here is just "feeding the beast" -- the never-ending quest for more information about the Big Game.
And now I've become part of the beast.
-- Rod Mar
So by now, everyone knows the Seahawks players attending today's press conferences were "jostled around" when a mechanized parking gate struck their van.
My job title is that I'm a photojournalist.
During Super Bowl week, there's plenty of "photo", but not much "journalism" for photographers, as everything is scripted down to the minute. There no news that doesn't come out in the form of a press release, or the dreaded "photo op."
So, upon hearing about the accident, and realizing it wasn't much (no players injured, Shaun Alexander joking about it), I decided to try to take a picture of the van. A friend who is in television news had the same idea.
After a debate about the news value of a photo of the van, we agree it will be fun to search.
We spread out around the hotel. I question valets. He goes to the parking lots.
My phone rings. He's struck gold (at this point of the week, a van with a dent is news "gold." Yeesh.)
I find him, and discover that from the sidewalk we can see the van below us in a parking garage. After taking a few pictures, I get accosted by a security guard.
"Excuse me, you can't take pictures of that," he says.
"Of what?" I reply with a smile. I know he doesn't know what I'm shooting.
He peers down. "Of that," he says. "You're not allowed to take photos of the physical structure of the building."
"I'm taking pictures of that van," I reply.
He looks flummoxed. "That van is parked on the physical structure of the building," he says.
"How come I can take pictures inside the building of players, but I can't take pictures of a parked van?" I ask.
I know that now's the time I should bail out. I've made my boring picture of a boring situation.
So I leave. No need to get hassled by a rent-a-cop. No need for me to make his day miserable, either.
-- Rod Mar
Walking through the area of downtown Detroit where the city's "Winter Blast" celebration is being readied reminds me of Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics.
But without snow, as Steve Kelley mentions.
Even so, workers such as the crew from J.R.'s Ice Sculptures of Dearborn, Mich., are hard at work.
They've spent the past month creating 36 ice sculptures that will decorate downtown, one representing the logo for each NFL. team, and other logos such as the one for Super Bowl XL.
Each sculpture is made of 12 blocks of ice, which are brought downtown in freezer trucks, then assembled, before artists such as Ted Wakar apply finishing touches with chainsaws, cups of water and snow.
-- Rod Mar
I was out shooting pictures in downtown Detroit this afternoon, and needed to hustle back to shoot some press conferences. Hail a cab.
The cabbie notices my Super Bowl credentials, asks where I'm from.
I tell him I'm from Seattle. He asks if Seattle fans are excited about the team's chances of winning a championship. I tell them folks are pretty hyped up.
He proceeds to treat me to a 10-minute, cigarette-smoking, expletive-filled history on the sad history of the Detroit Lions, and how they haven't won a title since "nineteen-[expletive]-fifty-[another expletive]-seven" and how they "lost THE BEST PLAYER IN HISTORY [Barry Sanders]" and "we didn't even get a [expletive] thing for him" and how Seattle fans better be thankful for their chance on Sunday.
Me? I'm not much of a fan, but at that moment I'm just thankful to arrive at the Media Center.
-- Rod Mar
Apparently there was an auto accident involving the vehicle in which the Seahawks were traveling to get to their early evening media availability today in downtown Detroit.
Details are sketchy, but it appears that the van with the six Seahawks players on its way to the media center was rear-ended in a nearby parking garage. Everyone was OK and all the players took questions after a short delay to the start of the session.
More details to follow...
-- Jose Romero
OK, so the media hotel is the Marriott Detroit Renaissance Center. Talk about confusing hotel names -- because, seriously, there is nothing remotely renaissance about Detroit.
There is something, though, about the Super Bowl and excess. And this hotel has excess in abundance. It extends skyward some 70 floors, enough to house thousands of media members this week, and could easily double as a Detroit suburb.
On the way to lunch today, we were wondering how they fill it normally. I mean, a Super Bowl is one thing. But how about the next convention?
The hotel does have three things going for it, though -- Marriott points, free beer in the hospitality suite and, well, free beer in the hospitality suite.
Welcome to Detroit.
One of the phantom storylines for Super Bowl XL is whether the Seahawks are being snubbed by all the publicity surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers and the triumphant return of Detroit product Jerome Bettis, who will play in his final game Sunday.
Sure, this week is packed with plenty of "Bus this" and "Big Ben that." But any evidence of the Seahawks actually getting slighted seemed to have been the product our own Pacific Northwest biases toward the existence of an East Coast bias.
That all changed today at a news conference by the Super Bowl XL Host Committee welcoming everyone to Detroit. Well, almost everyone.
"We're excited to welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers," said Tom Lewand, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the NFC's Detroit Lions. "We're not as excited to welcome the Seattle Seahawks."
As nervous laughter infected host committee VIPs sitting on the podium and in the front row, Lewand tried to dig himself out from under his gaffe, explaining that he wished that half of the hotel rooms didn't have to be filled by people from Seattle. Huh?
"We wished that we [the Lions] could have represented the NFC," he said. "There, that's better."
Uh, yeah, but only slightly. Lewand's job with the Lions is to negotiate contracts and oversee day-to-day operations of the team and Ford Field.
With this dolt in charge, it's no wonder the Lions went 5-11 this year -- like every year.
I saw comedian Steve Harvey while having a meeting with colleagues Steve Kelley and Greg Bishop this afternoon. Which raised this point — is he a celebrity (Harvey, that is, not Kelley or Bishop)?
While Harvey is no Kanye West, he was on the "Kings of Comedy." On one hand, he had a television show. On the other hand, it was on the WB network.
It's only Monday of Super Bowl week and it's possibly a more interesting debate than "Who's the better coach: Holmgren vs. Cowher?"
- Rod Mar
Top reason you know the Super Bowl shouldn't be in a city? You're walking back to the hotel from lunch and a dump truck is emptying tons of snow into an empty parking lot for the big Winter Bash celebration. A ramp is being built and snow piled for a slide. And other trucks are smoothing the snow to create the illusion of an idyllic winter in Upper Michigan.
Snow is OK for the playoffs. It adds character. There's nothing like the smoke from the players' breaths pouring past their face masks as snow flakes blanket the field, testing the patience of every quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
But the Super Bowl is played for the rich and famous and almost famous (we saw comedian Steve Harvey at lunch). It is supposed to be about palm trees and sand. It's about a round of golf followed by a round of parties. It's SPF 30, not thermal underwear. It's shorts and T-shirts, not down jackets and boots. The temperature of a Super Bowl city should be above 70, not just above freezing. Snow shouldn't be anywhere near the forecast. Save that for Torino.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm just happy to be here. The way my golf game is going I'm praying for snow in July. And if I came back with a tan I'd be accused of loafing on the job. But the people who hope to profit from this game, people like travel agents, are complaining that business is down as much as 30 percent for Super Bowl XL in Detroit, according to a story in the local newspaper.
Events this week will include dog sled rides, ice skating, snow-sliding and other chill thrills that include the word snow. Artwork includes outdoor ice sculptures. All of that is great for the Iditarod. It's perfect for the Winter X Games. But for the people coming to town to party like it's 2006, the Super Bowl is about surfing and golfing and convertibles and temperatures so warm even the parties are outside.
The Steelers' team plane arrived this morning at Detroit Metro Airport, and there were a lot more people at the hangar to see those guys than there were for the Seahawks on Sunday afternoon.
The pilot and co-pilot of the plane waved a yellow Terrible Towel out of a cockpit window as the plane moved into the hangar. The Steelers' plane was a basic airline charter as opposed to the Seahawks' privately-owned plane.
A cool thing, though. Several Steelers, including safety Troy Polamalu, walked off the plane decked out in green Notre Dame No. 6 jerseys, in homage to teammate Jerome Bettis. "The Bus" is a Detroit native, and he deplaned in a Detroit Tigers baseball cap and matching jacket.
The other day I had the opportunity to share one of those unique little moments you have when you are around a team so much.
And let me tell you -- little Dean Engram, the 5-year-old son of Seahawks wide receiver Bobby Engram -- has great hands and quite an arm.
Perhaps I'll be able to say that I played catch with a future NFL player. Dean and I tossed a football around the Seahawks locker room last Thursday while I was waiting to do an interview with another player.
The kid has skills. He can run. He can catch. He dives for the ball like his dad. And he can throw a good spiral for someone so young.
Oh, yeah, Dean also knows how to do The Sprinkler, just like his father. He performed it right there in the locker room, on command.
One more thing: Dean Engram turns 6 on Super Bowl Sunday. What a birthday present he could receive.
Sunday marks the official start of Super Bowl week. Not only for the players, coaches, and assembled media, but also for the thousands of local volunteers who are charged with everything from giving directions to handing out maps of the city.
When I arrived on a red-eye flight at 5:30 a.m., I was told there would be shuttle service to the media hotel.
I walked through the deserted airport, looking for directions to the shuttle. As I reached the end of the terminal, I was greeted by no less than eight (!) volunteers, each in a matching Super Bowl jacket. Despite the early hour, each was cheery and eager to make a new visitor feel welcome.
After EACH of the eight introduced themselves and shook my hand, they asked about the weather in Seattle, and teased that I had brought "Seattle weather to Detroit." Outside, a heavy rain was falling and temperatures were in the 40s.
I gently reminded them that I needed transportation to the media center, and they quickly convened a meeting about what to do with only ONE person to transport.
"But we were expecting hundreds of you", one commented. I replied that possibly the rest might be coming later in the day.
A few phone calls later, it was decided that an entire bus was too much for one small photographer.
Shortly, a town car was summoned, and I traveled from the airport in style, made comfortable by my "team" greeting.
- Rod Mar
I arrived in Detroit early Sunday on a redeye flight to find — Seattle.
Seriously. The skies are gray with clouds. It was raining. And the airport is a good 25 minutes or so out of downtown.
The airport is festively decorated in red and blue banners proclaiming Super Bowl XL and there are volunteers everywhere. Almost every storefront has Super Bowl merchandise in its window.
I saw a giant Uniroyal tire off the freeway on my way to the Seahawks' team hotel in suburban Dearborn. Then we drove by the Detroit Lions' practice facility, a much more sprawling place, it appeared at first glance, than the Seahawks' Kirkland counterpart. Ford, the automotive brand and an official sponsor of Super Bowl XL, is everywhere.
I meant to pack light, but just couldn't do it. Loaded down with many clothes ( I bought some new stuff earlier this week — after all, this is my first Super Bowl, too!) and much work material (media guides, clippings, stat books, laptop, batteries, notepads, etc.), I waddled into the Hyatt Regency Dearborn, the team hotel, with two suitcases and two smaller bags.
I told the woman at the reception desk that I was moving in. This will be home for the next eight days.
I also went to the airport to catch the Seahawks' arrival on their team charter Sunday afternoon. How about Paul Allen pulling out all the stops with the custom paint job on the jet? There were two No. 12s painted on either side of the plane. There was also a Seahawks' logo on the tail, and "Seattle Seahawks" painted on the sides.
After driving around downtown earlier today, Detroit doesn't seem to have a lot going for it, in my opinion. But everyone is very helpful and hey, I drove right past the old Tiger Stadium, which is still standing. A definite early highlight for this baseball fan.
As we drove into Detroit this morning, I was struck by how little notice there was that a Super Bowl was being played in this city. There were a couple of Coors Lite billboards promoting the beer company's involvement. But there were no banners on the freeway and the city was a ghost town. All Super Bowls have a pace to them. The first few days are sane and manageable. Traffic is reasonable. Hotel lobbies are navigable. It's business as usual.
Radio row, the section of the media headquarters, was quiet on Sunday. By Monday afternoon it will pulsing with talk show hosts from coast-to-coast who have set up in a circular area one floor below the Marriott hotel lobby. In the next week, former superstars, movie stars, celebrity wannabes and anybody with something to sell will be making the rounds at radio row looking for some publicity. It is the single best people-watching venue at the Super Bowl.
By Friday, even in cold, dark Detroit, the pulse of Super Bowl XL will quicken. The Marriott hotel lobby will be packed. There will be as much as a five-minute wait for elevators. Scalpers will roam outside the hotel hungering to sell and buy tickets. Streets around the hotel will be choked with cars. And also by Friday all of us who have been here all week will be anxious for the game.
Because when all the music has died down and after all the celebrity wannabes have talked themselves hoarse, we all remember we came here for the game.
Mike Martz, former coach of the St. Louis Rams, should know a thing or two about this Seahawks team. In an article written by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Martz calls out the Seattle offense and the play calling of Mike Holmgren when giving Seattle the edge.
With all the hoopla and hype surrounding Super Bowl XL, it's always nice to stop and laugh. After launching a sports section recently, TheOnion.com posted its own Super Bowl preview.
Read it here.
SuperBowl.com ranked the top ten Super Bowls of all-time. The panel that chose the finalists included Cris Collinsworth, Terrell Davis, Boomer Esiason, Shannon Sharpe and Phil Simms, among others.
Can't guess who the winner is? See the story, here.
Think a few hundred dollars is a bit much for a hot dog? How about $10,000?
If you think it's impossible, check here.
Just remember, this hot dog has been around since the NFC Championship. Bon appetit.
The official Seahawks Web site features a daily diary from defensive tackle Chuck Darby.
"Now we've got one more game to prove we're the best team in football, and we still have the same common goal. We can all see and feel it."
Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free-Press offers up a detailed analysis on "Why the Seahawks will win."
"The Seattle Seahawks are the most quietly dominant Super Bowl participant in years. Maybe this is because of East Coast bias ... . Maybe it's the franchise's Lions-like history of ineptitude. ... Maybe it's the city itself, a spectacularly livable swath of lush green, hills, water, fresh fish, fresh coffee and hi-tech earnestness. It is not an old football town built of factories and beer."
PinnacleSports.com is offering odds on which commercial will win USA Today's 18th Annual Ad Meter poll.
Anheuser-Busch is once again the odds-on favorite to win the viewer poll at 1-to-2 odds (i.e., win $1 for every $2 bet). Burger King, airing its first Super Bowl ad in a decade, is listed with the second best odds at 9-to-2, and longtime Super Bowl advertiser Pepsi is 8-to-1 to win the poll for the first time since 1998.
Go ahead, get your fix ...
"The defence's power players also attempt to tackle, or sack, the quarterback before he has thrown the ball, while any defender can cause a fumble by knocking the ball from a ball-carrier's grasp. ..."
Send this link to anyone you know who's become a converted football fan in the past few weeks. Our friends across the pond have a nice quickie guide that explains it all. And yes, that's how they spell offense and defense. Pip pip!
Lee Jenkins of the New York Times draws a touching profile of recovering safety Ken Hamlin.
Hamlin, aka the Hammer, was nearly beaten to death in October outside a Pioneer Square nightclub. The case is still under investigation. During his recovery, Hamlin has taken up a new role on the sidelines, but is still very much a part of the team aiming for a Super Bowl win.
Don't miss this handy feature on the Detroit Free-Press site: It's an interactive (flash) map of downtown Detroit that highlights places to eat, drink or shop.
If you click on a spot on the map, it has nice details and history about that location.
Time magazine reports that a rescue mission in Detroit is throwing a party for the city's homeless over Super Bowl weekend, complete with a big-screen TV -- and mental health counselors. It seems like a good idea given that the city police are already warning the homeless to stay away from official Super Bowl venues.
Read the article here
Taking it one step further, famed author and Detroit Free-Press columnist Mitch Albom has launched a campaign to raise $60,000 for the shelter so it can do a lot more than hold a three-day party. He wrote the first check ...
"He might not be quite as good-looking as maybe a Tom Brady-type, but certainly with that bald head he could get some Rogaine commercials."
This and other notes can be found on the Detroit Free-Press site.
Feeling nostalgic? Want to take a bite of Seahawks history? Well here's your chance.
From today's HeraldNet.com:
"A hot dog purchased during the third quarter of the Seattle Seahawks' National Football Conference championship win on Sunday has drawn 40 bids on eBay's online auction site."
Can't believe it? Here's the story.
Check the ebay page. We're not kidding.
The Seahawks have confirmed that there will be a rally for fans from 8 to 9 a.m. Sunday morning at Qwest Field.
Gates will open at 7 a.m. in the Qwest Field North Plaza.
The event and parking are free. The Seattle Times will distribute Seahawks cheer cards and Newsradio 710 KIRO will distribute rally towels.
Seahawks President Tim Ruskell and Head Coach Mike Holmgren will address the crowd, thanking the Seahawks 12th Man for their ongoing support this season.
Mack Strong has been writing a weekly blog on Seahawks.com after every game this season. The latest entry is particularly good.
"This is the biggest game of our lives. We can't let anything slip, and I'm not just talking about on the field. We all need to get plenty of rest and not do anything stupid that can take away from what we are trying to accomplish."
Read the rest of it, here.
Hank Williams Jr. will be performing in his fifth Super Bowl. But it looks like Williams and his pal Kid Rock will be pulling for the Steelers.
Here's the story.
It's warm ... in Detroit? The city hosting Super Bowl XL is experiencing temperatures 10 degrees warmer than normal, putting a damper on winter activities that the city has set up specifically for the Super Bowl.
The Detroit Free Press writes:
"Hoping to draw at least 350,000 people downtown, the (Super Bowl) host committee designed the 14-block expanse of the Winter Blast to embrace Detroit's cold weather with activities like the 26-foot-high snow slide, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice sculptures and sled dogs."
Here is the rest of the story.
Times reporter Jose Romero writes that two more Seahawks have been added to the Pro Bowl roster for the NFC - center Robbie Tobeck and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu.
Superbowl.com has promised a stadium full of features on their site.
From the news release: "Highlights will include NFL Network news reports and features, streaming audio of Sirius NFL Radio, and a complete section devoted to the NFL's "Road to Forty" advertising campaign offering all of the commercials as well as behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the NFL greats in the spots."
Clark Judge, a writer for CBS SportsLine.com, writes: "If (Shaun) Alexander is so valuable -- and a nationwide panel of writers named him the league's most valuable player -- why haven't the Seahawks moved to keep the guy?"
Alexander, whose contract expires in a month, could be playing his last game for Seattle in Super Bowl XL.
Read the story here.
The City of Kirkland, home of the Seahawks training facility, is planning a parade this Saturday at noon to celebrate the team's NFC Championship.
The parade and rally starts at noon at Marina Park downtown. Blue Thunder, the Seahawks' official drum corps, will join the parade.