INDIANAPOLIS - With a look of bewilderment on his face, David Feherty shouldered his way out of the media scrum surrounding Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“Cutting-edge journalism,’’ muttered Feherty, shaking his head.
Welcome to the melee known as Media Day at the Super Bowl, when more than 5,000 members of the Fourth Estate assemble on the playing field to pose questions ranging from irrelevant to inane. But these aren’t the ink-stained wretches of yore. On Media Day, the term “media’’ applies to just about anyone, from a guy wearing a lime-green cape to a statuesque R&B singer teetering on six-inch heels to Feherty, an Irishman who usually covers golf.
To their credit, the two teams grin and gamely answer - if they can - every last silly question. Asked by “Extra’’ cohost Maria Menounos to name a single one of this year’s Oscar-nominated films, Wes Welker couldn’t. Nor could the Pats receiver name all three Kardashian sisters. Lineman Ron Brace came up with Khloe and Kim but drew a blank on Kourtney.
“It’s good they don’t know. That means they’re focused,’’ said Menounos, a diehard Pats fan who drew as many catcalls as boos from boorish Giants supporters yesterday. “I’m excited about the game. I’m nervous because we never should have lost [in 2007]. But there’s no greater team on the face of the Earth. There’s no way they’re going all the way to the Super Bowl, in a rematch against the Giants, just to lose.’’
About that guy with the cape? He’s Jeff Sutphen, and he plays the Nickelodeon super hero known as Pick Boy. Sutphen said he tried to ask Bill Belichick a question at past Media Days, but the coach wouldn’t call on him. Yesterday, though, Belichick was in a buoyant mood - at least for him - and when Pick Boy raised his hand, the Hooded One noticed. But Pick Boy’s super powers failed him, and he froze.
“He choked,’’ said Belichick’s girlfriend, Linda Holliday, who was standing nearby with Channel 5’s Bianca de la Garza. “It was like missing a field goal. The guy totally choked.’’
(Head down, Pick Boy wandered off with Anthony DiCosmo, a former receiver at BC who’s now VP of sports partnerships and public affairs at Nickelodeon.)
Predictably, former Howard Stern sidekick Artie Lange was there trying to stir up trouble. Lange, a rabid Giants fan who hosts a radio show now with Pats-loving comic Nick Di Paolo, said his goal was to get Brady to say something outrageous. Didn’t happen.
While some of Chad Ochocinco’s marquee teammates - Brady, Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Vince Wilfork - were given their own podium, the former Bengals receiver was relegated to the sidelines, alongside lesser knowns like backup QB Brian Hoyer, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, and receiver Tiquan Underwood - he of the high-top fade haircut (now with the Pats’ logo shaved into the back of his head). Did it bother Ochocinco not to be in the spotlight?
“I don’t need to be on a podium,’’ he said quietly. “On Twitter I reach 3 million people faster than anyone here.’’
Brady’s patter seemed, more than usual, full of platitudes so we focused on the sideshow, including Nick Lower, a graphic designer from Columbia, Mo., who dressed like Brady, and Ines Sainz, the Mexican sportscaster who’s become a fixture at Media Day. Sainz told us her career hasn’t recovered since an alleged sexual harassment incident in the New York Jets locker room last season.
“I do my job better than before, but I am sometimes blocked by the NFL now,’’ she said. “But I’m still here, I guess.’’
Also impossible to miss was Ciara, the singer of such hits as “Goodies’’ and “1, 2 Step.’’ Taking a break yesterday from her duties as a correspondent for the syndicated show “The Insider,’’ Ciara told us she’ll be rooting for the Patriots Sunday. Why? She and Brady both work with celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson (whose other clients include JLo, Vanessa Manillo, and Sofia Vergara). Sometimes in the summer, Ciara said, she and TB12 see each other working out.
“Whenever I pass him up, he has so much positive energy and he’s such a good sport that it makes me connect to him a little deeper,’’ said the sultry songbird. “Tom definitely plays his music really loud in the gym. He likes a little bottom in his music. I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for saying that.’’
Elsewhere in Indy, late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon dropped by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to tape a segment for his NBC show, which he’ll be broadcasting from Indianapolis for four nights, including after Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Fallon took a few turns around the famous track with Marco Andretti, grandson of legendary racer Mario Andretti, and admitted that he “freaked out’’ - i.e. almost vomited - when the car came screaming down the straightaway.
“I’m from New York. I have no idea about cars. I’m afraid of cars,’’ said Fallon, looking a little ashen. “[Marco] was like a pitcher throwing a fastball. You know what I’m saying? He gave me the business. He brushed me back.’’
And who’s he picking in the Super Bowl?
“Hopefully, we get some great ratings,’’ Fallon said, clearly hedging. “I hope the game is great, Brady is awesome, and the Giants are great. . . . It’s gonna be killer.’’