Telemundo Sports Network reporter Joel Bengoa interviews Arizona Cardinals safety Aaron Francisco during the team’s media day for Super Bowl XLIII Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. The Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl on Sunday.AP PHOTO
TAMPA, Fla. — The bride didn’t bother showing up Tuesday.
It’s a good thing, too. She might have been upstaged by the dude in the dress.
The oddballs once again crashed Super Bowl media day, mingling among real journalists and shocking some players with the absurdity of their questions and the audacity of their antics.
This year’s crowd at the annual rite seemed a bit tamer — did the weakened economy take a bite out of this, too? — and the bride who so persistently pursued New England’s Tom Brady and Bill Belichick last year was a no-show.
No worries, gentlemen, a “fairy godmother” picked up a lot of the slack.
Only she was really a he, and there was nothing magical about him. Under the red evening gown, long blonde wig and layers of thick makeup was Joel Bengoa, a reporter from Telemundo Sports Network, the NBC-owned U.S. Spanish language network, looking for a laugh.
Doing his best — and we use that term lightly — Scarlett Johansson imitation, Bengoa teetered in his heels en route to present several players with boxes of chocolates.
“I’m from ‘fairy godmother land’ and you need me to win the big game,” he purred to Arizona safety Aaron Francisco.
Francisco was a good sport.
“They told me it was going to be crazy, but I just thought it was going to be a lot of media,” Francisco said. “Then that he-she gave me candy and I figured out what they were talking about. I think it was some Mexican dude in a dress, and he tried to get me to talk Spanish. But I’m from Hawaii, so I just played along.”
Bengoa had competition from his very own network, which also sent anchor Mireya Grisales to find her “Dream Team.”
Ines Sainz was back for her sixth Super Bowl for TV Azteca out of Mexico City, measuring players’ biceps then comparing them to her 27-inch waist.
At the other end of the festivities, Entertainment Tonight staged a “Dancing with the Super Bowl Stars” contest between hulking defensive tackles: Arizona’s Alan Branch claimed the disco ball trophy, claimed he’d keep it forever, then accidentally broke the ball off the base.
It made for an amusing morning, but not everyone loved the attention.
Asked if there was anywhere else he’d rather be, Pittsburgh left guard Jeremy Parquet didn’t miss a beat.
“P.F. Changs,” he quipped, “eating some kung pao shrimp.”