SAN JOSE, Calif. —** Before Super Bowl 50 Opening Night even began, the Broncos were in a fun-loving spirit. Cornerback Aqib Talib gave one of his gold necklaces to Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips and announced, "Now we're drippin'!" before conducting an interview with the 68-year-old mastermind behind the Broncos' dominant defense.
And then once the event began, it was even more absurd. Talib was challenged to a rap battle (he accepted and won), punter Britton Colquitt was asked what his favorite sound is (the answer: "Birds chirping"), safety T.J. Ward was asked what his spirit animal is (the answer: a turtle. Why: "I like turtles"); and then there was the cast of characters amid the media horde (Miss Universe, comedian J.B. Smoove, a puppet, Nickelodeon's Pick Boy, a person in a giant inflatable football costume and many more).
It was bizarre, but that's what this night was all about: a devotion to distraction, albeit a fun one. Sure, it's essentially a favor to those in the media like yours truly, but over the years it's become a host for all things wacky crossing into the NFL in addition to those sticking to the football aspects.
"It's pretty exciting. It's pretty cool," left guard Evan Mathis said. "I didn't get many that crazy, and I was ready for whatever. I think the weirdest question was if I was pro-man bun or not."
Mathis, though perhaps a little disappointed that his weirdest question wasn't as weird as he had hoped, has been soaking up every moment of his first Super Bowl trip, but he's also making sure this distraction—as fun as it may be—stays in the SAP Arena.
"[There are] a lot of distractions, but the main thing is eliminating all of those and staying focused on something all of us have been dreaming to do our entire lives," Mathis said.
And immediately after their media session was over, the Broncos returned back to their temporary home in Santa Clara, Calif. The moment faded into the night behind them and with normal weekly practice set to resume on Wednesday, the team prepared to return to the routine that got them to this point.
"When I went to the Super Bowl, you could kind of lose your way. You get caught up in all the hype. Media Day, you know what I'm saying?" defensive end Antonio Smith said, with a knowing smile. "You get pumped up and you kind of lose your focus. But that ain't happening with this team. Everybody's got their eye on the prize and everybody is sacrificing to get that ring come Sunday."
Get a look around all the action at Monday's Super Bowl Opening Night.(All photos by Eric Lars Bakke unless otherwise stated)
The fun, oddity and distraction of media day is there for each team, obviously, but Smith is confident that nothing—not even interviews conducted by a puppet—will distract this group. "We like to have fun just like any other team, but we've got our eye on the prize," Smith said. "You know, [like] if you've seen one of them pictures with a lion that's just fixed on its prey. That's kind of what every veteran on this team is like, and the young guys [are] just bought-in."