Ahead of Sunday night’s clash in Super Bowl 50, players from the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos each partook in Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday and showed the lighter side to football by donning a luchador mask, Versace pants, or simply cracking jokes with media members at SAP Center in San Jose.
Originally called "Media Day" for several years, the name switched up this year and turned into a prime-time television event. NFL stars like Carolina’s Cam Newton and Denver’s Peyton Manning touched on all topics and many weren’t about Sunday’s showdown at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Newton in particular made waves for his pair of tight, zebra-print Versace pants, which he wore stepping off the team plane and only served as an appetizer for his talk with the media. The 26-year-old quarterback and presumed MVP also talked about his new-born, one-month old son, Chosen.
And Newton flashed his way with words by accepting a rap battle challenge.
— Lindsey Adler (@Lahlahlindsey) February 2, 2016
Manning, 39, wasn’t asked to rap but did address allegations that he took human growth hormone (HGH) while recovering from neck surgery in 2011 and 2012. Manning has stuck to his position that the NFL won’t find any evidence against him during its investigation.
"I can guarantee you the findings will be a big fat nothing."
- Peyton on NFL's investigation into HGH report pic.twitter.com/ZdrGiNsSnM
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 2, 2016
It wasn’t all serious questions for Manning though. A Nickelodeon reporter dressed up like a superhero handed the ever-cerebral quarterback Manning a notebook loaded with suggested plays.
However, some players used the occasion to show off the spoils of the mega contracts. Manning’s teammate and safety Aqib Talib also showed off his $80,000 gold and diamond Rolex.
— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@SandoESPN) February 2, 2016
Panthers offensive tackle Mike Remmers, getting a little tongue-in-cheek and pointing out how much players can’t stand Media Day, referenced Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch’s now infamous line about the Super Bowl.
— Mike Remmers (@Mremmers50) February 2, 2016
Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, who’s become a rising star throughout the Panthers incredible run to the Super Bowl, stole show by wearing the traditional mask of Mexican wrestlers.
— NFL (@NFL) February 2, 2016
Norman did, however, have a testy exchange with NFL Network analyst and Hall of Fame receiver Deion Sanders, who was trying to mend fences between Norman and Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The corner and receiver had a very nasty and ongoing altercation earlier this season, and Norman felt Sanders backed Beckham and not him.
“I felt like you had his back on some stuff,” he said. “Like he was your son and you’d give him props. He’s trying to take me out and that’s what you’re going to pat him on the back for and say good job?”
Though Norman later said after Sanders left: “Deion is one of the greats,” he said. “You gotta respect that.”