Live From Tampa!


In 1967, there were 338 media members received credentials at Super Bowl I in Los Angeles.

That is not even a smidgen of the numbers anticipated for this year's tilt.

As you can imagine, the amount of media coverage for this globally-televised game has absolutely exploded.

Since the NFL's Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL, 35-10, 50 years ago, growths in not just interest in the new "America's Game," but mainly in technology have seen the amount of eyes and the way those eyes can retain information grow exponentially.

Remember those 338 journalists that were at the LA Coliseum back in the day? There are 4,589 credentialed media expected to show up to Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.

From first-hand experience, I can tell you it's a zoo.

That is why I am down in south Florida for what will be the fourth Super Bowl of my NFL career.

The league needs as much help with public relations as they can get. Representatives from nearly every club not playing on that big Sunday head to the Super Bowl site a little more than a week before kickoff to help set up for and assist the tidal wave of media that crash into whatever city that is next in the rotation.

Exactly 633 media organizations are covering Super Bowl XLIII. You've got your giants like ESPN, NFL Network, FOX Sports, or the Sporting News.

Those entities have television, online, radio and print arms that all are clamoring for the same stories - and trying to find the obscure one that will set them apart.

You also have the local news outlets of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, who are trying to take advantage of their respective home teams' run to glory.

And on the final tier, you have the cities that don't necessarily have a dog in the fight, but still want to cover the game. That would be papers like The Baltimore Sun, who have sent Ravens beat reporter Jamison Hensley and columnist Rick Maese. Those are the only two Sun guys I've seen yet, however.

On to the international scene. Twenty-eight countries have a presence in town, with the prize for the most outlets going to Mexico and Japan. There are 22 outlets from each country, with Canada and the United Kingdom both coming in second with 18 apiece.

All told, the 141 organizations from outside the United States is 25 more than last year's Super Bowl in Arizona.

So where do all these people go? Well, that would be my headquarters for the week - the Media Center.

Located in the sprawling Tampa Convention Center, which is situated right on the edge of the bay, it is a mecca of multimedia production.

Personally, I'm working on Radio Row, which is definitely the zaniest part of the zoo.

Basically, I've spent all weekend turning what was a massive, but spartan, conference room on Saturday to a buzzing hive of white noise made up of radio stations from all over the US.

Here's the setup:

The NFL Network has a big stage in the middle that will house their live studio show until the weekend.

If you flip on the Network, you'll see Rich Eisen and the gang breaking down the game and conducting interviews of everybody from current and former NFL players and coaches, to random celebrities just looking to pitch a product, movie, etc. You get the idea.

The same goes for the 95 other tables that fan out like a grid from the platform. Each radio station that sent a crew gets one fold-out table and a few chairs. From there, they make it their own, whether that means putting up a backdrop, placing flags on the microphones, or just draping a logo over the front of their station.

Then, as the players-coaches-random celebrities walk into the room, they are besieged with a ton of requests - depending on how interesting/talented they are - for a quick five minutes. Said subject is typically guided by a handler that either agrees or disagrees to the interviews. Good luck navigating through this mess.

I love working on Radio Row. You see the some of the most unique things while taking care of the media here. Last year, I got an up close and personal look at the beautiful Marisa Miller of SI swimsuit fame. Two years ago, I almost witnessed a fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Three years ago, I caught a picture of Ted Ferguson, Bud Light Daredevil.

I guess I've learned to discern more important things as I've gotten older.

Anyway, I'm smack-dab in the middle of things for these Super Bowl festivities.

Here on, I'm going to bring you some behind-the-scenes coverage from Tampa. There will be some exclusive pictures, I'll blog a few times every day, and will try to offer another look at what's happening that differs from the sports-only stories you're getting everywhere else.

Don't worry, however. I also plan on writing some about football, giving you a look at the game with a Ravens bent.

I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the Arizona Cardinals' media day, which is always the nuttiest event of the week.

Talk to you then.

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