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Super Bowl circus takes center stage at Media Day

Super Bowl circus takes center stage at Media Day

SUPER SUNDAY: Workers hang signage on a booth on Broadway as preparations continue for Super Bowl XLVIII in New York Jan. 28. Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

ROB MAADDI, AP Pro Football Writer

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Internet star Lil Terrio danced with cheerleaders, an Austrian man dressed as Mozart, another guy wore a Waldo costume and Nickelodeon’s Pick Boy was in the house.

Welcome to Media Day, the annual Super Bowl circus.

It seems fitting this event was held at a hockey rink, of all places, because there’s nothing ordinary about it.

Thousands of journalists, pseudo-journalists and other credentialed “media” from all over the world gathered at the home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils on Tuesday to meet the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Strange questions were the norm instead of football ones.

A man asked Seahawks center Max Unger if he could touch his long, scruffy beard. He said yes. A woman asked Seahawks defensive lineman Brandon Mebane for a kiss. He said no.

BRONCOS’ LENNON TAKES LONG AND WINDING ROAD TO SUPER BOWL

(Reuters) – There are many roads that lead to the Super Bowl but few are as bumpy as the one traveled by Denver Broncos linebacker Paris Lenon, who has survived two failed leagues and a team that set the standard for NFL failure.

The only NFL player left from the defunct XFL, Lenon has taken on a bit of a “Last of the Mohicans” notoriety in the buildup to Sunday’s Super Bowl where the Broncos will take on the Seattle Seahawks at a frigid MetLife Stadium.

“I don’t think it sunk in to the point at all,” Lenon told reporters. “I think you have to appreciate every year you’re in this league and not to make light of this situation at all, but first of all, you appreciate the position that you are in being a professional athlete.

“This is an added bonus to be in the biggest game.”

The 36-year-old’s path to the NFL’s championship game reads more like a Super Bowl odyssey than a road map, an epic journey that has spanned continents and forgotten leagues.

From working in a mailroom at the U.S. Postal Service, to NFL Europe, the XFL and eight NFL teams over 14 seasons, the undrafted Lenon has paid his dues.

The brainchild of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) impresario Vince McMahon, the XFL had a brief but colorful one-year run before disappearing as quickly as it had appeared.

The Amsterdam Admirals and NFL Europe are also now part of the gridiron graveyard but Lenon’s career lives on.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of that (being the last XFLer),” smiled Lenon. “I think it’s a cool story, but other than that, I don’t really think about it that much.”

Days away from playing for football’s ultimate prize, Lenon was once considered the NFL’s ultimate loser, part of a Detroit Lions team that went the entire 2008 regular season without winning a game.

Lenon started all 16 games for the Lions in that dreadful campaign and says he is better for the experience.

“When you go through difficult situations it makes you stronger,” said Lenon. “If you can withstand tough times it will make you a better person.

“It’s very frustrating to not have success. We’re in this game to win. Anybody who is playing a sport, you are in it to be a winner.

“If you are a professional, then you are going about your day and your job to the best of your ability regardless of the situation.

“That’s the way I approached it and that’s the way I have always been.”

If misery really does love company, Lenon has had plenty.

Teammate center Manny Ramirez, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril and Lenon all share a special bond having suffered through the winless Lions season together.

“That’s the first thing I thought about (going 0-16),” said Avril, one of the NFL’s top pass rushers. “I learned that I never want to go 0-16 again.

“I learned that, me personally, I have to keep working hard and not be the reason why we are losing.

Rookie year I didn’t win any games, and then five, six years later I’m at the big show and hopefully about to win it.”

SEAHAWKS’ HARVIN LOOKS TO PUT SUPER FINISH ON TRYING SEASON

By Larry Fine

NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) – Percy Harvin has one last chance this season to make the Seattle Seahawks smile about their $67 million investment in him as the receiver proclaimed himself ready to go for Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Harvin, who missed the bulk of the season recovering from hip surgery and the NFC title game with a concussion, has played briefly in two games since signing with the Seahawks after four seasons as a big-play threat with the Minnesota Vikings.

He and the Seahawks are hoping his first breakout game for Seattle comes on Sunday in the NFL title game against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

“I feel great. I’m feeling fine. I feel normal,” Harvin said during the indoor Media Day at the Prudential Center where players and reporters escaped the 18 Fahrenheit (-8 Celsius) bitter cold.

Geared up to play in his first Super Bowl, Harvin said: “It’s an awesome feeling. It’s a blessing to even be here and healthy and able to play. I can only say that I’m blessed and just ready for this opportunity.”

Harvin said he felt he certainly could contribute.

“I’m always confident. Anytime I’m on the field, I feel like I can make a play,” he said. “To that degree, I’m not worried at all. As long as I’m on the field, I am going to make a play.”

After four successive seasons with at least one kickoff return for a touchdown, and receptions for 50-plus yards in each of his first three seasons and a 45-yard catch last year, Harvin missed the first 10 games recovering from hip surgery.

After aggravating his hip in his first game back, he was sidelined again until the second-round of the playoffs against the Saints, in which he suffered a concussion.

“It was definitely a trying year for me. I had ups and downs,” he said. “It was frustrating for a lot of people – me, my teammates, the front office, but we all stuck together and hopefully in this game it will all pay off.”

Harvin sees himself having an impact in the return game as well as receiving and running the ball.

“In the special teams game I can really be a factor during the game, just being another threat on the team. The four of us wide receivers on the field plus (running back) Marshawn Lynch is going to be pick your poison.”

The speedster said his legs might even be fresher considering the light workload this season.

“A lot of different people were coming to me giving me different scenarios and that is one of the topics we talked about,” he said.

“It’s just a blessing to be able to play the game with not a lot of contact and wear and tear on my legs. I’m feeling really good about that, so we’ll see how it plays out.”

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