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The New England Patriots have gotten grilled, prodded and flattered. The team made it through Media Day –- the frenzied event held ahead of the Super Bowl where throngs of reporters mob the players and coaches. The Pats even seemed to enjoy the attention.
Media Day is crazy. While the head coaches and star players each man a podium, the rest of the players mingle with hundreds of reporters, posing for photos and TV stand-ups.
You would think that the free-for-all and the hype that is Media Day runs counter to the New England team and its controlled “Patriot Way.” But even stone-faced head coach Bill Belichick cracked some smiles as reporters pegged him with questions for more than an hour.
"What's up big boy?" Belichick said to one reporter.
Belichick said that even though preparing for the Super Bowl is a lot of work, he’s enjoying himself.
"Yeah, that’s what you’re here for, that’s what you work all year for, to play in this game, so it’s an honor to be representing the AFC and to compete in this championship game," he said.
"You can’t be too tight in this game. We’re here on a business trip. But at the same time it’s a business trip that we may never get to relive again. So you have to soak it in to a certain extent."Zoltan Mesko, Patriots punter
Vic “The Brick” Jacobs noticed the lighter vibe.
"I think Belichick smiled with me. I talked to him about the Year of the Dragon," he said.
Jacobs is a sports radio host from LA. Besides the yellow stuffed dragon hanging from his neck, he’s wearing a robe, fur hat and movie star sunglasses.
"He was cool. I think Bill’s loose today! Bill’s very loose! If Bill’s not loose today, when will Belichick ever be loose?"
It’s not just Belichick. It’s everyone, including quarterback Tom Brady.
"My man Tiquan over here with this haircut. Ti-, get up here and show them your haircut!" Brady said.
Brady easily shrugged off the revenge question, whether the Patriots are out to avenge the Super Bowl loss four years ago against the New York Giants.
"There’s a great rivalry. You know we’ve had some pretty meaningful games against the Giants over the last few years. I don’t think anyone’s disappointed it’s the Giants," he said.
One reason for the easygoing atmosphere clearly trickles down from the coach. But having a friendly audience doesn’t hurt, either.
Fans Watch Media Day From The Stands
For the first time, the NFL sold tickets for fans to watch Media Day from the stands. The cost of entry: $25.
"Oh yeah, man, well worth it, well worth it," said Nicholas Magee, who was wearing an earpiece -– all the fans got one. With it, they can tune into each of the press conferences. But, as much as listening in, Magee likes watching.
"I mean, actually being able to see people in person, seeing their size. Get to see all the reporters, got to see Ciara, just the whole aroma, the whole thing is nice, nice. It’s pretty cool," Magee said.
The eavesdropping fans make temporary stars out of certain players. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski gets the crowd to laugh when he can’t name an Oscar-nominated film or all the Kardashian sisters. The Gronk flirts with some of the reporters and some of them flatter him.
"I think you’re absolutely amazing. While I have this moment to say this, I love the game. I’m rooting for you guys all the way," one reporter from Insider HD told Gronkowski.
"Thank you," he replied.
"You’re welcome," she said, giggling.
Away from the interview booths, it’s even less reserved. A trio of Pats linemen shows off swag and records a promo for German TV.
"Want to do it one more time, with some more emotion?" said a SAT1 producer.
Germany, watch the..." one Patriots lineman laughs. "See you got me all flustered. Hey Germany, watch the Super Bowl on SAT1!"
"SAT1!" say the other linemen.
The Patriots punter, Zoltan Mesko, said the lighter mood has been helping the team deal with the pressure, "Because you have to. You can’t be too tight in this game. We’re here on a business trip," Mesko said.
"But at the same time it’s a business trip that we may never get to relive again. So you have to soak it in to a certain extent. At the same time, get ready for the game."
Oh yeah, the game: the Super Bowl. That’s not until Sunday. Plenty of time for the Patriots to get serious.
This program aired on February 1, 2012.
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