The mouth that roared

Murphy: Eating it all up

Underdogs have their day in the sun

Garber: Great Dane and a pup

Backstage at the Super Bowl

Media Day notebook

Chat wrap: Broncos Media Day

  Tuesday, Jan. 26 8:39pm ET
Jamal leaves a lasting image
By Susie Kamb,

MIAMI -- Jamal Anderson, the Atlanta Falcons' star running back, is slowing up the media crowd. It's 20 minutes after the scheduled start for the team's Media Day session at Pro Player Stadium, and Anderson isn't yet at his designated interview station.

 Jamal Anderson
 Jamal Anderson enjoyed himself in the Media Day spotlight.

The Comedy Central guy has wandered off in search of other fodder, and other reporters have moved to posts manned by Anderson's teammates, like quarterback Chris Chandler or the enormously entertaining tackle Bob Whitfield.

A few minutes later, Anderson arrives, but the wait continues. Anderson wants to videotape the amassed media. "Just be natural now," he says. "I don't want nobody smiling or posing or that fake stuff."

That done, he picks up his still camera. "Hold on, I've got to do group photos." He asks folks to "get in a little closer" so more of them will fit in the frame.

The 201st pick in the '94 NFL Draft is clearly in no rush at Media Day, and the media is gentled by his arrival. They obey his requests as they know Anderson will, in turn, try to make something out of every good or bad question he hears.

Besides, he has some news for those who are willing to stick with him.

"There is a new dance for the Super Bowl," he reveals. "It's a tad different (than the Dirty Bird). Actually, it's a lot different. I can't tell you (what it is). It's a special All-Around-The-World Bird."

He declines an invitation to perform the new dance. "You have to wait till the game. I can't show you because there will be unauthorized T-shirts again." He smiles broadly to make sure there are no negative feelings to his remarks.

Ah, the Dirty Bird, Atlanta's patented touchdown celebration. Media Day isn't all about Xs and Os, for Jamal Anderson. Instead, his one revelation about Media Day is: "I never thought 40 percent of my questions would be about the Dirty Bird."

  " That's the funny thing -- people break out and do the Dirty Bird in the strangest places. Somebody asked me in the bathroom. I said, 'Whoa, buddy.' "
-- Jamal Anderson

He also was questioned about Denver's Mile High Salute, his sleeping status for Saturday night (alone or with someone?), being a low draftee and there were even a few Xs and Os questions. Here are some of the high and lowlights:

  • What does he think of the Broncos' Mile High Salute? "I like it. I don't want to see it. It's short, sweet and to the point. It's a lot of fun for different people."

  • Does Anderson have any pregame superstitions or rituals? "I can't tell you anyway. I don't think I've met an athlete or coach who's not superstitious. Everybody has something that they do. I have my little things I like to do. They need to be perfect or I'm thrown off."

  • What's the biggest difference between playing the Super Bowl and watching it? "You can't party. I've been to a couple of Super Bowls, and believe me, you can't remember the game."

  • From the Comedy Central man, who has returned to the fold: Will you be sleeping alone Saturday night? "I know I will."

  • Does the team realize next year's Super Bowl is in Atlanta? "Yeah, we do. It's kinda funny because I thought of that the other day."

  • Is tackle Bob Whitfield always so funny? "That's Bob for you. Wake him up at midnight, and he'll tell you a joke. Wake him up at 3 a.m., and he has a joke." He laughs at the thought of it.

  • How about the rest of his teammates? "Jessie always sounds like, 'Well, you know I think that ... ' " mimicking linebacker Tuggle's low voice and deep thoughts. "Bob always got a joke. Chris (Chandler) -- you never know if he's happy, sad or if he's just ready to go. He's always kind of in-between. Everyone is always the same way. Eugene (Robinson) is always prophesizing, and Ray (Buchanan) is always giving guarantees."

  • What will be the key for the Falcons' running game? "The important thing is for us to sustain blocks. That's one thing Denver does well -- they do not stay blocked long. Regardless if you're trying to cut back, they've got somebody backside pursuit. The linebackers run well to the ball. (John) Mobley and those guys attack the line of scrimmage well."

  • On his matchup with Broncos' Terrell Davis (a 196th-pick in '95): "This is the reward for all late-round picks. Not unlike Terrell's situation, you know. You have to fight and claw your way up, and obviously being in the Super Bowl is a tremendous honor, something you've worked for. I was drafted No. 201. It's a constant motivator, because people continue to say what you can't do and what you're not supposed to do.

    "You talk about Randy Moss being burned, I'm furious (about being drafted so late). When the fourth round ended, I didn't want to be drafted. I wanted to be a free agent so I could pick whatever team, the best situation for me and try to work my way in."

    Anderson certainly has worked his way into Atlanta's offense. He has had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. In 16 regular-season games, he gained 1,846 yards with a 4.5 average and 14 touchdowns. He also caught 27 passes for an 11.8-yard average and two more scores.

  • Where was the strangest place you saw the Dirty Bird being done? "I've seen some people do it in some of the restaurants we go to. That's the funny thing -- people break out and do the Dirty Bird in the strangest places. Somebody asked me in the bathroom. I said, 'Whoa, buddy.' "

  • How does he feel about the game being played on natural grass? "We practice on it a long time. It's a lot better on the body. When you carry the ball 25 to 30 times a game, you look forward to that surface to fall on. For me, I'll try cuts a little bit more natural. When we're not on grass, I may be a little bit more hesitant to make a sharp cut because I don't want my body going one way and my leg going another way. When we're on the grass, I kinda let it all hang out."

  • On how growing up around Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard has helped him deal with the media: "You do picture yourself in those situations. You picture yourself growing up to be Muhammad Ali. You just try to imagine what it's like to be them. I was fortunate enough to oftentimes be standing right next to Muhammad or Sugar Ray in situations like this when I was young. I would be thinking 'This is unbelievable' in watching how they handled these situations." Anderson's father, James, was chief of security for boxing stars Ali and Leonard, among others.

  • How does he see Sunday's game being played out? "This is one of those fights they moved to 15 rounds. I think we're going to have one of those 12- to 15-rounders." He refrains from adding any victory predictions he might have heard from boxing camps.

    The crowd is tiring, and the photographers are yelling for Anderson's attention. "Come to the front, I don't like that side of my face," he says with a smile that says I'm not serious.

    Anderson stops to examine the quality of a reporter's microcassette recorder. "Come by the hotel," he says, "I've got a better one for you."

    Then, mercifully for both Anderson and the gathered thong, Media Day for the Falcons is over. The referee hasn't stepped in, but clearly the fight is over.

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