It’s happened so often in the past that NFL players go into Super Bowl media day knowing there’s a good chance they’ll field some bizarre questions. Maybe not “what kind of a tree would you want to be” bizarre, but also not conventional queries about run-pass options or replay reviews.
San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is up to the challenge this week, not surprising for a veteran professional athlete and the only member of the active roster who played in the team’s most recent previous Super Bowl.
He handled his oddball question of the week in much the same way he’s handled bull-rushing defensive linemen for more than a decade: straight on and strong.
Meet Joe Staley, time traveler
Someone asked if he had any thoughts on time travel and Joe Staley was up to the task in responding, saying right away that he would want to travel way back in the past, not just a decade or so.
Staley, who protects Jimmy Garoppolo now and safeguarded Colin Kaepernick during the 49ers’ last Super Bowl run, was also quick to note the logistics could be daunting. He cited the need to have appropriate currency and speak the local language and concluded that a time traveler probably could not adapt to the circumstances, thus diminishing the experience.
With insight like that, it’s understandable that 49ers teammates listen when Staley, 35 years old and a six-time Pro Bowl selection, talks about the week leading up to Feb. 3, 2013, and the 49ers’ 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
Listen to what the man says
Joe Staley told the San Francisco Chronicle that dealing with the media that week in 2013 in New Orleans was daunting, but that having teammates such as Jimmy Garoppolo and Richard Sherman around now figures to help these 49ers because of their big-game experience with other teams.
On the other hand, dealing with family and friends who are even more excited to be in Miami than the players has the potential to be the bigger distraction. Having already been in the league six years at the time, Staley was both mature and organized enough to head off potential problems on that front the last time at the Super Bowl.
“The distractions that kind of come with the game are not so much the game, but they’re like, all of a sudden, you have 20 family members that are down there. Everybody wants to have an experience down there,” Staley said. “Just managing all that … this is a business trip for me. And I tell a lot of the guys the same thing — is to manage your expectations with your family, what you’re supposed to do down there, and really focus on the game.”
From that standpoint, game day for the 49ers and Chiefs could be the easiest for the players. By then, the whole family has arrived, the tickets have been distributed and the coaching staff can sequester the players from breakfast to the bus ride to the stadium to avoid having them faced with last-minute drama.
Take a deep breath and focus on Super Bowl LIV
The fact that 100 million American will watch the game on television is irrelevant to Staley, who is midway through a two-year contract worth $28 million, because only what goes on in the sold-out stadium once the players are dressed and taped ultimately matters.
“You kind of tell yourself this is another game, I’ve been doing this my whole life — and then you go out there for pregame warmups,” Staley said. “And that was the only time, for me, that I actually felt like, “We’re in the Super Bowl,’ just because there were so many people around.
“You’ve prepared for this moment,” he continued. “But once that whistle blows and you play the first snap, everything is just same-old.”