G Davin Joseph wanted to represent the Buccaneers well during Super Bowl week in Tampa
As he strolled through the Convention Center of Tampa, the media headquarters for Super Bowl week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Clifton Smith was taken aback by the sights and sounds of "radio row."
Table after table of broadcasters transmitting their programs over the airwaves to all corners of the United States created a nonstop hum in the air as they discussed the different storylines surrounding Super Bowl XVLIII.
Despite his new status as the NFC's Pro Bowl kick returner, Smith seemed almost taken aback by all the attention he received.
"I've never seen this much media coverage in my life, especially since this is the first time I've ever been a part of a Super Bowl event," Smith said. "This is crazy."
"Crazy" was an apt description for the usual media frenzy that descended upon downtown Tampa this week, as media members from across the nation – and the globe – spent the week covering the Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers and their matchup set for Sunday evening.
Obviously, Smith and the Bucs wished they were the ones going through media day at their home stadium and dominating the discussions on radio row. Still, a few Tampa Bay players did find time to visit the Super Bowl media center to do interviews and take part in the hoopla.
Smith, linebacker Barrett Ruud, guard Davin Joseph and Head Coach Raheem Morris each made their way to the convention center throughout the week and spent time doing interviews.
Morris was an assistant coach when the Bucs won their first and only Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2002 season, but Smith, Ruud and Joseph were getting their first taste of the Super Bowl media crush and each was in awe of the amount of coverage surrounding the game.
"It's cool," Ruud said. "I've never been to a Super Bowl before, so it's kind of cool when your hometown is hosting it to take part in it. I live down the street, so it's convenient for me and it is cool to see everything.
"It's weird because it's so crazy that the game is almost secondary. The events are almost bigger than the game. That's the crazy part, how it's expanded to where it's not even the game that's most important, but just being at the Super Bowl and the whole atmosphere."
Added Joseph: "It's interesting to see all the national talent and the local talent together and guys bouncing around from here to there. I saw some other players from the league, old and current players, just going around and having a good time.
"This is my first Super Bowl actually doing the media stuff. I do the festivities all the time, go around and do the charity stuff with the other players and do some appearances and stuff, but this is my first time doing the media center. I think I want to do it next year if I get invited."
As fun as it all was, each player also said he recognized the importance of being an ambassador for his teammates, the organization and the city of Tampa.
With the Cardinals practicing at the Bucs' state-of-the-art facility, the game taking place inside Raymond James Stadium and the eyes of the world focusing in on the Bay area, the spotlight won't likely get any brighter than it has been this past week.
"I think it's important, because our owners have done such a good job of turning around this franchise," Ruud said. "We used to be over at old One Buc and at the 'Big Sombrero' and they've given us a bunch of state-of-the-art stuff, and Tampa is such a prime city to live in. I hope to stay here as long as possible and be a good face for the community."
Joseph said he was also cognizant of how important it was to put his best foot forward while interacting with such a variety of media members that would in turn reach their audience with impressions of the Bucs, their stadium and their home town.
"You represent a lot," said Joseph. "Guys don't really realize how much you represent when you get on the radio. You represent yourself, but you also represent your fellow players and your coaches. You want to kind of get to know the national talent and let the audiences really get to know you, so it's a cool deal.
"For me, I like conversing about football. It's easy and I enjoy it, so it's good to promote your city, promote your team and promote your fellow players. I think it's pretty cool."
The only negative? The Bucs wished the questions they answered as part of their interviews were about preparing to play in Sunday's big game.
"Seeing all this really does make you want to get there," Ruud said. "I'm a guy that really doesn't want a bunch of attention, but this is a cool event. This is attention you want on yourself, because I don't know if there's a bigger sporting event in the world. To be in the center of it would be pretty cool."
Added Smith: "I'm jealous about it right now, after going to the facility and seeing all the Cardinals guys walking around in my locker room. I'm real jealous right about now."