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The Suburbanite
  • Steve Doerschuk: 'Boomer' runs roughshod over Media Day

  • Steve Doerschuk, on assignment in New Orleans, has a run-in with Chris Berman. Not that Berman noticed.

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  • Even before he squeezed out Marty Schottenheimer, even as he apologized in 1995 while he ground his heel on the face of Browns fans, I did not care for Art Modell.
    Something was lacking in the humility department. He was too fond of being the big cheese.
    That thought occurred a long time ago after I had watched Mr. Modell work the room at the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club.
    I’m Art. Nice to meet me. Yuk, yuk.
    Art wasn’t as bad as Chris Berman at media day here in Super Bowl City, though.
    A few thousand of Boomer’s closest friends were on the field in the Superdome to mingle with players and coaches from the 49ers and later the Ravens.
    “Media day” isn’t the only day — we’ll have three more days to track down players and coaches. But it’s the busiest day. And it’s a slugfest to get questions in, even to the offensive linemen.
    The better players sit at podiums, on the actual field of play. Frank Gore, for example, was perched near the left hash, two yards from the end zone. Standing on the goal line (one of the cool things about media day), I asked the 49ers running back if he intends to cross it Sunday.
    “That’s the plan,” he said.
    The interviews last an hour. Covering 10 previous Super Bowls has taught me to keep moving, watching and listening. There’s always a good or a funny story to be had — one time at a media day, Bruce Arians told us Butch Davis cost the Browns a 2002 postseason win at Pittsburgh.
    I hadn’t planned on talking to 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, but there wasn’t much of a crowd when I passed his podium, so I drummed up a question.
    Staley and Browns left tackle Joe Thomas are from the same part of the country and were left tackles drafted in the same year.
    Why, yes, Staley said, he is a big Joe Thomas guy ... watches him on tape as mandatory and very helpful homework.
    “He’s a masterful technician,” Staley said.
    The way it works, even at a low-traffic podium, is that everybody has a question loaded up. You take your best guess as to when the player is on the final word of his answer, then blurt it out. It’s rude, but it’s the only way, because there are two to 10 other reporters practicing exactly the same strategy.
    That’s just what I was doing as ‘Niner Joe was finishing his answer to the Joe Thomas question — I wanted to get in a followup. Two other reporters began questions at the same time I did.
    Page 2 of 2 - Just then, Berman appeared out of nowhere and walked inside the barricade behind which mortals must remain. The ESPN blowhard poked a microphone in Staley’s face, then, regarding the reporters who had been waiting to get their questions in as he would a wad of Wrigley’s on his shoe, he interjected;
    “Joe! Congratulations!”
    He sounded like Staley’s long-lost Central Michigan fraternity brother. Thus began a brief Berman-Staley interview. My followup will never get asked.
    What a tremendous honor it was to have been in Chris Berman’s presence. Years from now, my grandchildren will be so impressed.