BOSTON (CBS) — The Super Bowl may be a showcase of the greatest football players in the world, but Super Bowl Media Night is more like a showcase of the absurd.
The Big Game’s annual media circus will take place in prime time on Monday night for the second straight year, replacing the former “Media Day” with an even more chaotic cluster of reporters, personalities, and the teams they cover.
There are a handful of topics that will almost certainly be brought up when the Patriots take the podium for their media availability, which is expected to start at 10pm EST at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Although Roger Goodell, Donald Trump, and DeflateGate are sure to be among the subjects brought up in multiple questions to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and others, Media Night is also a time for reporters to go off-topic in a number of ways.
Let’s go over what you can expect to come from Media Night when the questions start flying in Houston.
1. How would it feel for Roger Goodell to be forced to hand you the Lombardi Trophy?
Brady and Belichick will likely be asked at least a dozen variations of this question. Their deflection skills will be on full display and will need to be at a high level once the Goodell questions start coming up. It will be the closest they come to being the salty versions of themselves that you typically see in a weekly Patriots press conference.
Belichick might give a snort and a scowl to anyone who asks him about the commissioner, but with Brady, it’s more likely he gives a coy smile and “just wants to talk about football.” Most of Patriots Nation probably feels the same way, but you know the Goodell questions are inevitable.
2. Did President Trump call to congratulate you on winning the AFC Championship?
Also from the “Saw that coming” department … President Trump’s recent history of public support for the Patriots is undoubtedly going to be among the most oft-discussed topics when Brady, Belichick, or Kraft make themselves available. Kraft is doing his best to make sure it’s well-covered before Media Night, but his comments won’t even come close to making the questions stop for Brady and Belichick.
The Trump questions – and there will be more than a few of them – are a lose-lose situation for the coach and quarterback. Even if they offer no comment whatsoever, the media will find ways to craft some scorching takes off of how they react.
3. Will the footballs be properly inflated this time?
Brady’s DeflateGate suspension may be over and done with, but he still needs to get the ultimate revenge: a fifth Super Bowl championship. And reporters still need to ask the quarterback about his reflections on perhaps the most overblown controversy in the history of sports.
Thankfully, the Patriots were able to make it to the Super Bowl without so much as a sniff of controversy. The DeflateGate hysteria certainly won’t be nearly what it was two years ago when the story broke, but there will still be some residual questions that some national reporters will feel the need to cover. So take that as a warning.
4. To Malcolm Butler: How does it feel to not be a one-play wonder?
Two years ago, a little-known rookie corner named Malcolm Butler came out of nowhere to make the biggest play of his life. Two years later, he’s back in the Super Bowl as the Patriots’ No. 1 corner after emerging as one of the best in the NFL.
Butler has certainly proven in the two years since his unforgettable Super Bowl-sealing interception that he’s more than just a “one-play wonder.” Instead of making a single miracle play and disappearing into oblivion, he’s established himself as a top-shelf NFL corner. The media will surely be ready with questions on how far the third-year corner has come since his Super Bowl heroics.
5. To Martellus Bennett: What’s your relationship with Gronk like?
There’s no Gronk in the Super Bowl this year, and (probably) no Gronk at Media Night, either. Someone needs to fill that void, both on and off the field. That’s where Martellus Bennett comes in.
The tight end has not only played hard and battled his way through injuries for most of his first season in New England, he’s showcased his infectious personality and affable nature when speaking to the media. He’s always full of one-liners, creative metaphors, and generally memorable quotes, so Super Bowl Media Night should find Bennett right in his wheelhouse.
It may be disappointing not to have Gronk around, but Bennett is sure to be a highlight whenever he speaks.
6. How do you guys block out the noise as well as you do?
“Ignore The Noise.” It’s long been one of Belichick’s mantras, and the players almost always heed his call. But unfortunately, Super Bowl Media Night is virtually impossible to ignore. On Monday night, the Patriots will have to deal with at least some noise.
They’ll never have more outside noise threatening to distract the team than they had two years ago in the early days of DeflateGate, so they certainly have shown an ability to overcome the chaos of Media Night. So much so that the media’s inability to distract the team will, ironically, be one of the media’s big topics when addressing them.
But hopefully, like Tom Brady said, the team can just take the pointless outside noise and put all that crap in a drawer.
7. To Chris Hogan: Will your lacrosse experience help you at all in this football game?
Did you know that Chris Hogan played lacrosse in college? It’s the new “Julian Edelman played quarterback in college.” Hogan’s epic performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game likely introduced the receiver to a lot of unsuspecting fans, and it’s likely to draw more attention to him when the media descends upon the Patriots at Media Night.
Of course, Hogan’s lacrosse experience will play 0.0 role in how he plays on Super Bowl Sunday, but you just know that at least one reporter will go there. There should also be an over/under bet for how many times Hogan and lacrosse will get mentioned during the Super Bowl broadcast.
8. Does it get old to be going to the Super Bowl almost every other year?
Brady and Belichick have been to the Super Bowl seven times in 16 seasons. That is simply an unfathomable rate of success that may never be duplicated again. A quarterback-coach duo with the intensity and competitiveness of Brady and Belichick surely never get tired of making it to the Big Game, but that won’t stop the media from asking some cornball questions about the Super Bowl “getting old.”
This will be the safest bet for Brady and Belichick to give canned responses about the honor and privilege of playing on football’s grandest stage. Again. But to be fair, when you’re there almost every other year, it gets hard for reporters to come up with new questions.
9. Hey Bill, you always seem more friendly at these than during the regular season. Is there something different about this game?
Well … it’s the Super Bowl, for starters.
Super Bowl LI will be Belichick’s 10th since the start of his coaching career in the NFL, with the head coach having also served as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants in two Super Bowls – and Super Bowl XXXI as the Patriots’ assistant head coach – before eventually making seven as Patriots head coach. Belichick has been here a lot so he knows what to expect from Media Day/Night.
You’d think Super Bowl Media Night would be Belichick’s least favorite part of the whole experience. But in actuality, the Super Bowl usually brings out the friendliest Belichick you’ll get as far as media interaction. That will leave reporters wondering what’s gotten into him … hint: it probably has something to do with being at the Super Bowl.
10. Will you marry me?
The questions are sure to venture into bizarre, outrageous territory at some point – certainly when Brady is at the podium. Ever since 2008, when Inez Gomez Mont showed up in a wedding dress and literally asked Brady to marry her, fans have been wondering if there will ever be a repeat.
Maybe there won’t be a wedding proposal, but you can safely assume that there will be at least one wild moment that draws an awkward smile and laugh from Brady. At an event like Super Bowl Media Night, such insanity is the norm.