MEDIA DAY

Super Bowl blog

Whew.

That's about all I can say after returning to the Super Bowl Media Center after three-straight hours of Media Day at Raymond James Stadium here in Tampa.

I'll take you through it from the beginning:

8:45 a.m. - 10 a.m.: After driving up from Sarasota, I board a bus along with the other media members headed to the stadium. In the back of the stadium are several white tents -- not as wedding reception-esque as the one yesterday for the Cardinals -- that are set up exclusively for media screening.

We're patted down one by one, bags examined and herded through security that may have been more extensive than airplane security. This is, after all, the biggest sports media event of the year.

Once inside, it's hurry up and wait for the Arizona Cardinals availability at 10 a.m. While waiting, I see all sorts of things you don't normally see at sports press conferences.

Exhibit A: A man is smoking outside in an all-white linen suit, topped by long grayish hair and a cowboy hat.

Exhibit B: A wide variety of ethnicities and languages are seen and heard throughout the halls.

Exhibit C: Two young women in sundresses and fancy shoes, looking like they're on their way to a photo shoot.

Exhibit D: An older white man is heard saying: "Bunch of celebrity journalists for MTV or something.

Exhibit E: A man sits on a cooler with green soccer shorts and a red T-shirt, with tennis shoes. His face is being made up with woman's makeup -- including heavy rouge. Later, this man is seen outside in a fancy red dress. He was representing a Spanish-language television station, though I'm not certain which one.

Moving on ...

10 a.m. - 11 a.m.: Time finally for the reason we're here: Arizona Cardinals media day. Ten players, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt, have their own podiums, while the rest of the players wear their jerseys and sit in the stands or wander around. Some of the more famous ones have their own impromptu press conferences, including Antrell Rolle, cousin of Immokalee standout Brian Rolle and former UM standout at cornerback.

Most of the hard facts from this time will be covered in my stories later today, but here is some brief information for the blog ...

From Immokalee native Edgerrin James, who's playing in his first Super Bowl during a 10-year career and will be the first Collier County native to play in a Super Bowl.

"My attitude? About being here?" James laughes. "You just gotta be a G."

Although he sported his usual dreadlocks and tried to stay even-keel, James' excitement about finally reaching the Super Bowl was evident.

"It's super important (to be here) because of how hard it is to get here," he said. "I've done almost everything there is to do ... this is the ultimate goal."

11 a.m. - Noon: Local special of this hour is Fort Myers native Deion Sanders, who was a high school at North Fort Myers and is now working for the NFL Network.

Sanders mentored 2006 NFM grad Noel Devine, who's now a RB for West Virginia. Devine was one of the country's top prospects, and he and Sanders were close -- Devine even moved in with Sanders during the summer of 2005. But Devine abruptly took a plane back to Fort Myers, and their relationship has been complicated ever since, especially since Devine's arrest with two Mountaineers teammates in Feb. 2008 for allegedly beating two students in Morgantown, W.V.

What's "Neon Deon's" relationship with Devine like today?

"That would be a better question for him," Sanders said, smiling wryly. "I never stopped caring about him or being there for him ... I just want to see him mature as a football player and as a man."

Noon - 1 p.m.: Talked to some Steelers players and coaches about former Estero standout wide receiver Micah Rucker, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last spring by Pittsburgh and cut from the practice squad after training camp. Rucker is now with the New York Giants.

"Micah is a great kid," said Steelers coach Randy Fichtner, shaking his head and smiling when I asked about Rucker. "I thought he'd be a unique developmental future player, and I see others think that, too."

The first person Fichtner called to ask about Rucker was longtime Eastern Illinois football coach Bob Spoo, who played with Fichtner's dad at Purdue.

"Spoo said nothing but unbelievable things about (Rucker)," Fichtner said. "When I heard all that, I knew we had to go out and try to get him."

1-1:30 p.m.

Walk back through a dirt field to the bus, drip with sweat and imagine what it would be like to play football, with full pads, in this kind of weather and hotter.

Although James said: "(South Florida) is the best place to play football. In Arizona and over there it gets too hot to play outside, and up North you can't play in that cold. We play year-round down here."

He sure loves it here, huh?

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