Super and surreal: It's media day for Bears, Colts
EmptyMIAMI -- Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith paused, looked left and then right in a desperate attempt to understand the relevance of the question.
The coach was five days away from America's grandest event, the Super Bowl, and he was just asked whether he thought the judges on "American Idol" were too mean this year.
"What's American Idol?" he shot back sarcastically, before sighing and answering the question.
Smith had just talked of the historical importance of two black coaches advancing to the Super Bowl for the first time when the whimsical question was launched.
Such is the nature of the annual Super Bowl media day, where sports journalists stand alongside talk show hosts, entertainment presenters and a medley of attention-seekers to toss out questions to players on the NFL's final two teams.
The Bears and the Indianapolis Colts endured the annual ritual on Tuesday, fielding serious questions on Sunday's game and offbeat queries on just about anything.
Bears quarterback Rex Grossman was asked if a movie was being filmed based on his life, who would he like to be in the starring role.
"George Clooney would be a good one," said Grossman, who also pondered Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Phillippe as possibilities.
The Bears and Colts each fielded an hour of questions from the throng of nearly 2,000 under sunny skies at Dolphin Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLI.
One woman from a Mexican television network was dressed so provocatively that within 15 minutes of the session, she herself was being interviewed by a radio station.
Two well-known rejects from the television singing contest "American Idol" got Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri to belt out "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" alongside the out-of-tune duo.
Both the players and the serious journalists tried to keep their eye-rolling at a minimum while the absurd took center stage.
In a reprise of a farcical question from several years back, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was asked if he was a tree, what would he be.
"A bonsai," he said without hesitation, as if he were expecting the question.
Just minutes earlier, he had been shown a bear-like puppet and was asked if he thought it had a chance of becoming the team's new mascot.
Sportswriters have never been known for their cerebral questions and some players had trouble figuring out what was legitimate and what was not.
A television entertainment program gave Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison its Martin Scorsese Trophy for the "body of work" over his NFL career.
Harrison cautiously accepted the trophy, named for the noted film director, before asking if it was a gag. Even the presenter was at a loss for words. The NFL does allow one day of shenanigans -- all in the name of hype.
Mammoth Colts center Jeff Saturday enjoyed turning the tables on the writers, making them wonder if he was telling the truth about his exploits at Miami's trendy South Beach.
Saturday, a 6ft-2in, 295-pound lineman, said he wore a Speedo, a tiny, revealing bathing suit.
"That's what I rock on the beach with," he said. "This nice tanned physique in that Speedo? Man, I look good."