Excerpts from SB XLVII Media Day
Tuesday was Media Day of Super Bowl week. Over 6,000 media members in attendance from around the world, interviewing 13 players and the head coach of each team. NFL Network had the coverage. It was sometimes hard to hear some questions posed by the press, but Deion Sanders was often able to hijack his way to the front to get a quick question or two in for the TV audience. They also would cut back to the analysts pretty often, which I wish they wouldn’t have. Save that for the end. I would have liked to have heard more from Ray Lewis, and you know Terrell Suggs is a sound byte machine, but we only got a couple minutes with him. Not one word from Haloti Ngata either.
Here were some key items I picked up from today’s coverage, starting with the 49ers.
Colin Kaepernick: On Alex Smith (who did not have a booth at Media Day). “Alex is a great guy, he’s been phenomenal this whole time. He’s done everything he can to help me. He continues to do that, so I have nothing but good things to say about him.”
Any pressure? “No , its another football game, gotta come out and play.”
Colin gave a lot of short answers. Is that a sign of being calm, or nervous? I couldn’t hear one particular question, but the answer was “27 to 3” Was this a prediction? Did he predict that the 49ers would score just three points? Doubt it.
Jim Harbaugh: On his brother, John. “I love him and care about him very much. He’s a tremendous competitor and it’s a great challenge and task to play his team. But I have brothers on our side line. For he who sheds his blood with me today shall beat my brother. -Shakespeare. I think I’m half the coach he is, but I’m trying. It might be a little generous because I have half the experience he does, half the wins.”
How would you console your brother? “Life is full of bitter disappointments. We all understand this going into this game. We both want to desperately win and be a part of a championship and the thrill of winning. We understand the other side of that and we’ll do everything in our power not to let that happen.”
On Kaepernick: “Colin has worked extremely hard, studies extremely hard, he’s a wonderfully focused young man. Competes like a maniac.”
On the Ravens: “Playing against the Ravens, the two biggest challenges are number one their talent, and also number one is their character. A team that plays with a great amount of heart.”
Randy Moss: On his legacy. “I don’t really live on numbers, I really live on impact and what you’re able to do on that field. So I really think I’m the greatest receiver ever to play this game.”
Even his own fan base in San Francisco must disagree. That’s like if Brian Urlacher became a Raven and said he was the greatest MLB of all time. Great, but not the best. Jerry Rice never left the field before the game was over. He wants to talk about impact, who has he impacted, besides maybe Michael Crabtree this year who called him “my big brother.” He was irrelevant for a few years before going to New England, then irrelevant since. Needless to say, this was the first “He said what!?” quote of the day.
Vernon Davis: On being from Maryland and playing against the Ravens. “Home town team for me. To play against the Ravens it means a lot to me. When I was a kid it was either the Redskins or the Ravens. So looking at now, its like, wow, we’re playing the Ravens.”
On what helped him mature as a player. “When Singletary sent me to the locker room, that was a moment that changed my whole life from then on. After the game people don’t know this, I told him I wanted to leave. He said okay, we’ll get you over to another team. We shed tears, after that my focus went to a whole nother level. Matured. It wasn’t about me, I didn’t think about stats or catches. It’s all about the team. When you put the team first you’ll have success and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself and what your trying to build.”
As a Terps fan, I’m glad to have seen Vernon Davis grow up. I wish him so much success going forward, just not this Sunday.
Michael Crabtree: On the topic of Alex Smith. “I really don’t want talk about that. Feeling sorry for Alex Smith, he is the QB, and hes the second string QB now. We’re just really ready to go out here and play.”
What do you take away from that? Does it sound like he thinks Alex shouldn’t have lost his job due to injury?
What has Randy Moss brought to the table? “He’s my big brother, he’s a man, he’s legendary.”
Aldon Smith: Is there something you have to do different to put pressure on Joe Flacco? “Just hope I don’t get double teamed or triple teamed.”
Ooooooh. Feisty. He’s calling it. Joe should know where this guy is at all times anyway. He is one of the sack leaders this season.
Alex Smith: On his mindset. “It’s tough for sure, it hasn’t been the easiest thing. frustrating, disappointing, I felt like I was playing my best football right before the injury, you deal with it you move on. This is a team game, I wasn’t going to pout and mope around. This is a team game. I love the locker room we have, the group of guys we have and that’s bigger than me I feel like so I wasn’t going to put myself before any of that.”
Will you be here next year? “I’m under contract for two more seasons. A lot has been made of that, and we’ll be able to talk about that in a few days when this is all done.”
Alex carried himself pretty well. I think that answer to his future is acceptable. This week isn’t about the future. It’s about the game on Sunday.
On to the Ravens, who went to the podium after San Francisco.
Ray Lewis: Whats the biggest difference from the last Super Bowl to this one? “Last time I was a follower of Shannon, and a follower of Rod, I had to learn a lot. Now this time I’m a leader…I want these guys to taste what I’ve already tasted. There was a time I didn’t taste it before and that’s what I mean by I was a follower. I was following what Shannon already felt before. I had never felt that before. Now I’m leading them to what that feels like.”
We have a Super Bowl winning dance? “We’ll See”. (With a grin from ear to ear).
On what it takes for a young man to be a legend like him some day. “When you talk about leaving a legacy, I think it’s all about what your peers speak about. The people you impact on and off the field. If nothing else, I’ve always told people your greatest leaders are your greatest servants. You find people who lead, lead, lead, more importantly they serve more than anything. That’s what this team is built about…From day one I’ve always grabbed someone to take them to the next level of being a better man, a better woman, a better child.”
On the report of using “deer antler spray” to aid recovery. “Two years ago it was the same report. I wouldn’t give that report or him any of my press. He is not worthy of that. Next question.”
On this note, the NFL Network immediately made it out the Ray Lewis dodged the question. From the analyst desk shortly after, they point out that he simply said “next question”. Sure it was a quick answer, but Ray states that this report came out two years ago, it’s obviously a non issue (we hope) and time to move on. Hopefully to people who didn’t watch the event, the “next question” quote isn’t the only one that makes the papers.
It should also be noted that someone asked Ray Lewis about the incident in Atlanta in 2000. At which point Warren Sapp dropped his mic and said “After 13 years! Come on!” My sentiments exactly.
John Harbaugh: Did you and your brother ever dream that this could come to pass? “When we were in the back yard we did go one on one and it was the super bowl, but we weren’t coaching, we were playing…Jim got way closer than I did to this game as a player, so this is our opportunity. They always say if you cant make it as player you do it as a coach.”
So one on one, who won? “Most of the time I won. I was older, I won most of the battles early. He’ll probably refute that…(Jim said he can’t really remember. “I don’t remember what I did last Tuesday.) Who cut the grass last was the biggest thing. He would refuse to admit that it was his turn.”
If you win the game, how would you console your brother? “We’re way past consolation. There has been enough battles, there is no consolation between brothers. Not only is it unnecessary, but it is unwelcome. You just move to the next competition, what ever the next competition, that’s what we’ll be looking at. The biggest thing is that we love each other. We care about each other. There is no loser in this game on either side. What he’s done with his team the last two years, how he’s built a team that looks like him, how he played they game, they reflect his personality so well. I couldn’t be more proud of him. Who ever wins the game, I’m going to tell him I’m proud of him, tell him I love him, and we’ll see em next time.”
Interesting that John and Jim have a little bit different feelings on how they would console one another ofter the game. Jim kind of danced around the issue, while John came off as a typical older brother. Consolation is unwelcome. Suck it up sissy. But I’m sure there will be nothing but kind words expressed no matter who raises the trophy.
On the recent accusation brought upon Ray Lewis: “I have not talked to Ray about that personally. It was brought to my attention on the bus rude over here. What I do know is that Ray has worked incredibly and extremely hard to get back to where he is and I’d hate to see anything diminish his work ethic that he’s put in…Ray has passed every random substance test hes taken through out his whole career.”
Joe Flacco: Whats your strategy for this game? “Our strategy is to come out and establish a good consistent style of football on offense. Move the chains. Keep the 49ers on the field. I think if we keep this defense on the field we’ll wear em out a little bit and get ourselves a win.”
Another breathtaking sound byte from the master of the microphone, Joe Flacco.
What question would you ask yourself? “Try to find a way to get off this podium probably.”
Typical, dull, cool, Joe Flacco.
Ed Reed: Defensive MVP, multiple Pro Bowls, everything but the Super Bowl. Is this the final piece? “This is, to a career. To get here and win it, that will be the ultimate. I know we have a hard task with San Francisco. We know it’s going to be a battle.”
I know Ed already said he’s coming back next year. If the Ravens win this thing, don’t be so sure. Ed spoke like this is the last thing he has to accomplish. “This is it.” He might not be saying it yet as to not take away from Ray Lewis’ thunder, and also if they lose, maybe he does come back for more. But if they win, and Reed walks off with Ray, book my trip to Canton where Ray and Ed will be enshrined, busts sitting right next to other forever.
Can you talk about your leadership ability? “Me and Joe talk about it a lot. We try to lead by example first. People see how you practice, how you take care of yourself. The main thing in the locker room is being open to guys. Talking to guys. Giving advice. Relating to them off the field. That’s where you really lead more because this is about raising and leading men.”
Terrell Suggs: Who is the best pass rusher in this game? “If I’m healthy?” Ain’t no if… “I’m gonna take the fifth on the grounds that it’s going to incriminate me. I’ll let you decide, but ask me that question again next year when I’m healthy.”
He didn’t take the bait! But Ray Rice did…
Ray Rice: What will be more rewarding. The chase to get here [Super Bowl], or actually doing it [Winning the SB]? “Actually doing it. You can’t get no higher than that. It’s a great achievement. All of this is great. But Anquan Boldin gave us the scenario. When you lose, they rope you up, send you to the locker room, and you’re in second place. You’re the loser. That feeling, you think about it and it burns you up a little bit.”
I thought this was going to be a dumb question. Of course, Winning it is better than the chase. But it prompted Ray Rice to bring up the story Anquan mentioned about what it feels like to lose the big game as a member of the Cardinals in SB XLIII. That was key.
Who is the best running back here? “Tremendous respect for Frank Gore, but if you never put yourself first, you’ll always be last. So obviously I think I’m the best.”
Joe Flacco said the exact same thing prior to the season. “If you don’t think you’re the best when you step out on the field, then you have already lost.” Media spin – Joe Flacco calls himself elite. Do you think Ray Rice will get destroyed like Joe for saying this? Probably not.
What should we expect? “I got to take advantage of my one on one opportunities. Those opportunities are going to come a lot in the pass game. They play a lot of that man coverage. I gotta work the linebackers. That’s my job. If Joe gets down to me, I gotta win. In the run game take whats there. This is going to be a tough defense. This isn’t one of those defenses that you say it’s going to be a track meet…Two yards is going to be a great two yard run if you make the best of it.”
Anquan Boldin: Everyone is talking about the speech you gave to your team. Can you share a little about that with us? For me, it was just letting them know what I went though my first time around. Trying to have them avoid that same disappointment. It’s rare you get this opportunity. There’s guys that play many years that never get to a Super Bowl. So you want to make the most of it because I felt like I let an opportunity slip away five years ago. From that day on its haunted me. Everything I’ve done has been geared around getting back to this point and making right on that.
That is clearly evident by how he has played this postseason. Forgive the cliche, but he is playing with a purpose, the way he went up and took to ball down in the Indy game, and his big catches in New England.
Just for giggles, there we’re some dumb questions asked of these guys as well. I guess reporters have to reach after a long day of asking questions. Deion Sanders wasted no time however asking his first dumb question to the first guest of the day.
1. Deion Sanders asked Colin Kaepernick if he would be wearing sleeves or no sleeves on Sunday. Deion, it’s a dome. It’s not January in Lambeau. Of course Colin said “No sleeves, gotta show off the tattoos.” Then kisses his average biceps as he walks away.
2. To Jim Harbugh, What do you think about playing in the Superdome after what this city has been though? That’s a tough one to answer, he mentioned the history of the building, and finished with “We’d like to thank the New Orleans Saints for the hospitality and letting us use their facilities.” This made me chuckle for some reason.
3. Also to Jim Harbaugh. Did you and your brother ever fight? “I’m sure we did.” No lady. They are the only brothers in the history of mankind that got along perfectly 100% of the time.
4. To Kaepernick. What song do you wake up to? “What ever is next on my iPod.” Breaking news! Print that! Colin Kaepernick prefers iPod over Zune in Super Bowl week interview!
5. To Terrell Suggs. What is the one thing you want to make sure you do in case you don’t get back here again? “Win. That’s the only thing. Win.” I thought he was going to say try the jambalya or something. But winning. That sounds like a better answer.