Hugs, hair, hockey among hot topics at Seahawks media day

Hugs, hair, hockey among hot topics at Seahawks media day »Play Video
Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson answers a question during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
NEWARK, N.J. - Within the first five minutes, Russell Wilson called an audible.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback - somewhat overlooked at this Super Bowl by the QB on the other sideline - briefly stopped answering questions, came down from his podium and fulfilled the wish of an older woman named Josephine wearing the jersey of teammate Richard Sherman.

All she wanted was a hug and an autograph.

"Just to be here, is a dream come true," Wilson said. "To be able to focus on this moment is really special."

While there was plenty of attention on Seattle's QB on Tuesday, it was less than the hoard that surrounded Sherman or even the short availability of running back Marshawn Lynch. Wilson was peppered about growing out his hair - a mix between Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson he says - his faith, his friendship with Grammy winning rapper Macklemore and even tried answering a question in Spanish.

"When I was in 11th grade, we won the state championship. I had my hair grown out," Wilson said. "I didn't cut my hair the whole year for that season and my dad didn't either, so it kind of inspired me for this year."

Wilson was much like the rest of his teammates - perhaps Lynch excluded. Whether it was strong safety Kam Chancellor, wide receiver Percy Harvin or a host of others, they all attempted to relax and have fun with hoard of media assembled at Prudential Center.

"I'm entrenched in the moment," Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "I grew up and I watched a lot of guys not able to have this opportunity, so it's definitely something that I'm cherishing and just enjoying every moment."

It's strange for Wilson to be considered a secondary figure considering in just his second season he's playing in the Super Bowl. He is the winningest quarterback in the first two seasons of his career in NFL history, after all, with 24 regular-season victories and 27 overall wins in 36 total starts.

But with Peyton Manning the quarterback on the other side, the reaction from Sherman's postgame rant following the NFC championship game still being discussed, and the wonder if Lynch would even show up on Tuesday, somehow Wilson took a back seat.

Wilson still went about it with his usual professional demeanor.

"You've got (Sherman) who is going to probably voice his opinion a little bit more, and then you have Russell who is real professional. They both handle it pretty well," Seattle wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. "Look at them up there. Looks like they're both doing a good job up there."

A New Experience For All

Seattle is absent Super Bowl experience so Tuesday's circus was a complete new outing for every player.

They clearly decided to embrace it, rather than shy away - all except for Lynch. Numerous players wore cameras strapped to their chests as part of a feature for the team website. Reserve safety Chris Maragos brought out his video camera to document the occasion, while teammate Earl Thomas had a tablet set up next to him recording his entire session sitting on one of the main podiums.

Golden Tate was even more high-tech, wearing a Google Glass headset.

"Really I thought it would be a great idea to try to film my experience through my eyes, literally through my eyes, for the 12's," said Tate, giving a nod to the Seahawks fans. "They've supported us all year and we appreciate it so much. I figured this would be a small way for me to give back and for the people that aren't able to make it out, they can see this."

Among other oddities of the media circus: 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.

Perhaps the only player who felt at home was Seattle tight end Luke Willson. The media event took place at the home of the NHL's New Jersey Devils.

He grew up in Canada, played hockey through his sophomore year of high school and was genuinely psyched to be in an NHL arena.

"I thought it was kind of cool to be here," said Willson, a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "I was a left winger, grinding forward-type of guy. I have two brothers and we would play on the street in front of the house, go to spring camps, played all the time. I played a lot of hockey."

Asked if any of his teammates could lace up the skates, Willson was brutally honest: "No, definitely not. No way."

Unger, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound lineman, played roller hockey long before he packed on the pounds for a career in the NFL.

"This is an awesome venue, seems like a great place to play hockey," he said. "I watch a little bit of hockey. We have the Vancouver Canucks up the road."

'This is pretty crazy, man'

The Media Day extravaganza is one of the wildest scenes in sports. Even current football players were in on the "reporting" action. Eagles Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson co-hosted a show for BET. Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel interviewed players for a shampoo promotion.

"This is pretty crazy, man. Pretty crazy," Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson said. "I saw Waldo. I saw the superhero. They told us there were going to be people dressed up, but you never really know what to expect until you see them."

Of course, a few celebrities also took part in the spectacle. Actor Nick Cannon wore a Peyton Manning jersey. Michelle Williams, former Destiny's Child singer, asked players to sing.

But the most popular person was Lil Terrio, who became famous for posting his "Ohhh, kill 'em" dance online. Players stopped to pose for pictures with him, interrupted their interviews to call him over and everyone who recognized him asked him to dance.

Lynch shies away from media

One player who was not enthralled with all the attention was running back Marshawn Lynch. Known for his avoidance of the media that actually temporarily netted him a $50,000 fine from the league, Lynch, wearing a hood and dark sunglasses, abruptly left the required session at the Prudential Center, walking out after 6½ minutes.

He later came back and stood on the side of the media area, doing interviews with the Armed Forces Network, Deion Sanders for the NFL Network and a Seahawks Web reporter. Lynch also talked to teammates and signed footballs and a helmet for fans in the stands.

While he did that, about five dozen media members stood in front of Lynch and shouted out a few questions. He ignored almost all of them as time ran out in Seattle's 45-minute availability.

Sherman Shines

Manning and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman were surrounded by the biggest throng of reporters. Manning deftly evaded questions about his "legacy" and Sherman was so eager to talk that he showed up early for his 60-minute session.

By the time the official clock started on the Seahawks' session, Sherman was already on No. 6.

"Whatever you got," he said, egging on reporters to ask anything they wanted.

He was charming, funny and didn't raise his voice at all except to make sure he could be heard by the horde of media gathered around him, which was at least a dozen-deep at times. He went out his way to praise his teammates. He had nothing but nice things to say about Sunday's opponent, the Denver Broncos.

But it never came across as some sort of mea culpa, as though Sherman had been coached by public-relations people on the best way to shore up his image. No, this seemed to be a guy simply taking advantage of the opportunity to show there's far more to him than what people saw after he tipped a pass to help clinch Seattle's victory over San Francisco, then went off on 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree in a brief interview while still on the field.

"People think I'm a loudmouth, an angry guy," Sherman said. "That's a big misconception."

Sherman arrived at the podium lugging a camera, which he used to shoot video and snap a few pictures of the media staring back at him. He looked every reporter in the eye and hopped out of his seat several times to make sure he could hear the query, very much a guy who majored in communications at Stanford. He joked around with celebrities and fist-bumped a couple of aspiring school-age journalists - neither much taller than the barrier in front of Sherman.

"I could do this all day," Sherman said.