By GARY SHELTON
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2001
TAMPA -- Okay, guys. This is your chance.
You think you have something to say? We're listening. You think you're a philosopher? We're writing it down. You think you're a comedian? We're your audience.
Okay, guys. Tell us something.
The spotlight is on you. The microphones are on. The pens are poised over the pads. Think deeply. Speak clearly. Be funny. You are being graded.
The world will remember you, as a player, by what happens Sunday. It will remember you, as a performer, by what happens today, when you crowd into The House That Trent Built, climb up on your podiums and, for an hour, tell the world about the many facets of the wonderfulness that is you.
Tough job, huh?
It is Media Day or, as it is known across the league, The Running of the Bull. It is a trip to the zoo, completely laughable and totally absurd. And you should love it. Make a statement. Share an insight. Have an idea. Failing that, borrow one from Shannon Sharpe, who has several that will not fit into an hour.
If you are Tony Siragusa, for instance, wait for the inevitable question about strip clubs in Tampa. Then you look at the camera and say, "If there is a 6-foot law on lap dancing, what is the distance if you have a 6-foot lap?"
If you are Michael Strahan, for instance, be descriptive. When someone asks you about the disharmony in the Giants' clubhouse a year ago, you should talk of each of the ways you imagined Jim Fassel being tortured. Extra points for the one about the rabid squirrels.
Do not give dated references. Survivor was 15 minutes ago. Even "15 minutes ago" was five minutes ago. Talk about The Mole. Talk about Temptation Island. Do not talk about Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The only thing older than that reference is Wellington Mara.
If you are Brian Billick, you should be candid. "Look, guys," you should say, "if everyone had to watch this offense, there would be no such thing as Lasik."
If you are Fassel, give a real prediction, not that limp "We're going to the playoffs" stuff you've ridden for two months. Give us a winner. You can pick either team.
Whenever possible, pander to celebrities. Go on, bench-press Beth Littleford. If God did not want you to treat them as if they were special, He would not have given them ratings.
If you are Trent Dilfer, be humble. Tell everyone about all those Sundays when you were certain the cannons were pointed at your head.
If you are Jason Sehorn, be reflective. When asked about the Big Apple, say this: "We would like to announce that we have nothing to do with New York whatsoever. We don't even like Sinatra. From here on out, we wish you would call us the Jersey Giants. Or, better yet, the Swamp Creatures."
Give us pain. We love comeback stories. Tell us about the serious disease you overcame as an infant. You get bonus points if you actually had the disease.
If you are Qadry Ismail, be bold. Say, "Just give me the damn ball." It will amuse fans, especially those in New York and Tampa Bay.
If you are Micheal Barrow, be blunt. When someone asks you about former teammate Rae Carruth, say, "I think he should be locked back in the car trunk."
Answer as many questions as possible with " ... that's an excellent question."
If you are Tiki Barber, be scandalous. Tell us what Ronde really used to say about Dilfer.
If you are Peter Boulware, and someone asks you about teammate Ray Lewis, be supportive. "I'm behind Ray," you should say. "Especially if there is a fight."
Be humble. When someone suggests you are "really, really great," suggest that they said "really" one time too many.
If you are Lomas Brown, be insightful. Tell everyone about your rookie year, when you watched Alan Ameche run across the goal line to beat the Giants.
If you are Jonathan Ogden, suggest that the prequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was Little Giants.
Suffer stupid questions, except this one: "What's the stupidest question you've heard all day?" If someone asks you that one, it is legal to shoot him. A condition: If you answer "That one," it is legal to shoot you, too.
If you are Kerry Collins, tell a joke. No, not that one.
If you are Sharpe, use the clock wisely. Especially with two minutes to go.
Most of all, forget the cliches. You do not lay it on the line. You do not dig deep. You play your own game, but that's only because you can't play the game of the '85 Bears. You get plenty of respect, but thanks for asking.
Come on, guys. It isn't that hard. Give us some controversy. Show us some levity. Make us care.
You're going to be asked to give advice to President Bush II. You're going to be asked to review the Golden Globe awards. You're going to be asked if Edgar Allen Poe should have been suspended for drugs. You'll be asked about Al Gore and Allen Iverson's CD and Mark Chmura's babysitter.
This is your moment. You are stepping onto the moon. You will be judged by what you say.