Before we get started, just wanted to apologize for the big delay on this entry. I wanted to have it up sooner but I’ve been getting pulled in a thousand different directions. My inbox has 20 new emails every time I refresh it. My phone is blowing up with text messages. I had to spend a good chunk of Wednesday doing something I’ll talk about more in tomorrow’s diary. But enough excuses, let’s get to the observations.
1 - Normalcy returns, sort of
I woke up early on Tuesday in order to get some posts up on BGN before heading over to the Mall of America for the Eagles’ media availability scheduled for 12:40 PM Central Time. I skipped out on the Patriots’ media availability scheduled for 11:00 AM CT because 1) I had to get some work done and 2) zzzzzzzzz who cares.
Interestingly enough, the Patriots’ press conference room is much closer to the media center than the Eagles’ press conference room. Like, much closer. It’s in the same hallway. Meanwhile, you have to walk to the entire other side of the mall for the Eagles. Just another disadvantage for the Eagles. (Just kidding.)
This really is the best Super Bowl.— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 30, 2018
“No, no.... make a left BEFORE the Aeropostale.” pic.twitter.com/WBkZWTFzIh
I arrived at the press conference room in time to wait for Doug Pederson’s press conference to begin. It struck me how much more comfortable Pederson is with the media now compared to when he was first hired. There’s still some awkward moments, for sure, but nowhere close to where Doug was at in 2016.
None of Pederson’s answering were especially noteworthy or interesting. A lot of people asked him about his time as a high school coach at Calvary Baptist Academy, so you know there’s about to be a lot of articles talking about his time there.
Super Bowl press conferences! Eagles HC Doug PedersonPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Tuesday, January 30, 2018
After Pederson got done, a number of players were available for interview at designated podiums. This setup was similar to Opening Night but much less chaotic and crazy. It’s more of a return to normalcy, or as much as “normal” can be during Super Bowl week.
Here’s the footage I shot on Tuesday via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page. (CLICK HERE if you can’t see it.)
Eagles players doing Super Bowl media interviews!Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Tuesday, January 30, 2018
I really liked what Vinny Curry had to say about Doug Pederson’s impact in the locker room. The fact that he’s a former NFL player is not lost on these guys. Curry got pretty passionate when talking about Doug as “one of the most genuine dudes I know.”
As a whole, the players were pretty loose once again. The moment definitely doesn’t seem too big for them.
2 - Vikings fans: STILL salty
Minnesota Miracle:— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 30, 2018
January 2018-January 2018 pic.twitter.com/08tAdzWIta
Media availability lasted until 1:30 PM CT. After I got done there, I started to walk back through the Mall of America to the media center. On my way there, I saw somebody wearing a VIKINGS hat and a TOM BRADY jersey. Give me a freaking break.
Then on the way from the media center to lunch (Chipotle), I saw that dude who was at the Mall on Monday. This guy:
And the hurt still cuts deep in Minnesota . pic.twitter.com/21n4Grj37H— Derrick Gunn (@RealDGunnNBCS) January 30, 2018
As you can see, he fixed the shirt so that it’s no longer “Viking’s” with the unnecessary apostrophe.
If you thought that this dude hanging around the mall, hoping to get attention for two days in a row is lame -- which it very much is -- just wait until you hear this. Vikings fans were actually LINING UP to take pictures with him. Just incredibly lame.
Look, I’m not trying to trash EVERY Vikings fan out there. I do want to give credit to a Minnesotan by the name of Tom Benson who read my diary from Monday and reached out to me. He gave me some advice about staying warm and also let me know he’d be willing to give me any recommendations if I needed them. That right there is the “Minnesota Nice” treatment I’ve received from a number of people during my stay here. I give those people credit for representing their city well, unlike others.
3 - There’s proof the Eagles are going to win on Sunday
Upon returning to my hotel around 3:00 PM CT, I received a sign about Sunday’s game in the lobby.
TV in the hotel lobby here in Minnesota was playing Fresh Prince. Eagles by 50.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 30, 2018
Minnesota is known for being the birthplace of actual Prince (RIP).
OK, so this observation was pretty pointless, but I wanted to work my tweet in to the post somehow. Sorry.
4 - The Super Bowl media party was cool
I returned to the Mall of America around 7:00 PM CT on Tuesday evening in time for the Super Bowl media night party thing. The Mall sectioned off the theme park section of the building just for media to walk around and hang out in. Free food, free drinks. Such a rigorous life, I know.
This is the inside of a mall. pic.twitter.com/32tU86aCCH— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 31, 2018
I walked around for a little bit and tried some of the different foods they had to offer. One food station had sushi (spicy tuna roll), and I’ve never had that, so I gave it a try. I did not enjoy it. I couldn’t even get it down. This wasn’t surprising to me since I’m not a big seafood guy and I prefer food that’s hot or warm. But people always tell me I gotta try sushi since they love it so much. I’d imagine this mall sushi might not be the best sushi out there (sorry, Mall of America) but I don’t know, man. Just not my thing. (I’m sure you really care about this.)
Back to the event itself. I hung out with former BGN manager and PhillyVoice writer Jimmy Kempski. Total hack. Just kidding, great guy. Also talked to SportsRadio 94WIP’s Jon Marks for a good part of the night. Jimmy, Jon, and I were all shooting the shit when former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese (Marks’ co-host on WIP) walked over and started talking about Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith. That led to us realizing the Redskins and Chiefs actually made that trade, which, lol. Jimmy made a comment about Smith and Dak Prescott’s throwing ability, which led to this tweet.
Between Dak and Alex Smith, the Eagles will have 4 games in which they won’t have to defend more than 8 yards down the field.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) January 31, 2018
We continued to talk throughout the night as we caught up with some other people who walked by (name drop alert). Talked to Tony Bruno about how he used to do the “radio” segments for the Madden games. Talked to FOX29’s Jenn Frederick about how her kids are fired up for the Super Bowl. Talked to NJ.com’s Matt Lombardo about how his co-worker Eliot Shorr-Parks unfollowed me on Twitter for some reason. You know, all the good stuff.
With the Super Bowl being played this week (oh, right, forgot about that!) the Eagles obviously came up in a number of conversations. The consensus is that people really feel like the Eagles are going to win this game. There’s a stark contrast between how Philly people really believe in this team compared to how almost all of the national media is taking the Patriots.
The media party ended around 10:30 PM CT. On our way walking out, I got into a spirited debate about Nick Foles with Ike Reese. Ike’s a big Foles guy, so you can imagine how that went. Former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook also got in on the discussion. It doesn’t feel weird in the moment, but I’ve gotta say, when I sit down and actually think about it ... it’s pretty cool/weird to think the players we watched growing up are now my media peers.
With the party over and the Mall closing, I went back to the media hotel and called it a night.
That does it for Tuesday’s diary. I’ll have more Super Bowl coverage coming your way soon.