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In this blog-happy, DIY era, why just read Super Bowl Media Day stories ... when you could be writing them yourself, in any of nine traditional genres! Just fill in the blanks and you're on your way!
I. DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION
He looks, (1)s, and (2)s like any another football player. But everyone knows there's something (3) about him. Because ever since he was a child, he's struggled with the scourge and shame of (4). Yet he's never let (4) hold back his talent ... or his dreams.
"(4) isn't my whole life, just a part of it," he says, absently rubbing his affected (5). "I don't want to be seen just as a guy with (4).
"But if what I've gone through can help one guy with (4), then it'll all have all been worth it."
2. Slightly more active verb
3. Somewhat unsettling adjective
4. Chronic disease or grooming problem
5. Body part
II. THE BEST OF RIVALS
They've been best friends ever since they met in (6). They've (7) together, (8) together, even (9) together. Their families even (10) together in Hawaii over the holidays.
But on Super Bowl Sunday -- they'll be enemies.
"I keep telling him, we're gonna (11) his (12)," he jokes "He says if I'm not careful, I'm gonna get (13) on a (14)."
"We're closer than (15)s most of the time," admits his friend. "But for those three hours, it's gonna be (16) bar the (17)."
6. Youth-bonding organization
7. Active verb denoting alcohol consumption
8. Active verb denoting the sudden and violent death of lesser sentient beings
9. Verb denoting momentarily-disturbing private activity
10. Verb denoting non-disturbing public activity
11. Extremely active verb
12. Intimate body part or household appliance
13. Verb denoting passive transportation
14. Item of trauma-care equipment
15. What you called your intimate female friend in college
16. Diminutive first name of Irish woman
III. THE UP-AND-COMING ASSISTANT COACH
As a (18) coordinator, he has known the long days. The (19) nights. The (20) studying of opponents' tendencies. When it comes to film, he's broken down more times than (21) being interviewed by (22).
And yet, he was passed over for the head coaching job in (23). The top job in (24). Didn't even get to (25) for the (26) gig.
But sing no sad (27)s for this child of (28)ers: "All I'm (29)ing about now is a Super Bowl victory."
18. Football-ish adjective
19. Anhedonic adjective
20. Get-a-life adjective
21. Prime-time TV star with (4) ... see above
22. Network TV interviewer
23. City with more than one good sushi place
24. Town with one OK sushi place
25. Jerkwater burg with swimming hole
26. Rapidly fading Division I football school
27. Piece of vocal music
28. Embittering, underpaid occupation
29. Verb denoting inappropriately intense contemplation
IV. THE MAN WHO CAN'T BE THERE
From his earliest days in football, he's always had alongside him his (30): Pops "(31)" Daddio. Along the practice field. At the games. On the ride home.
But now that he's preparing to play the biggest game of his (32) life, he must do it alone. His (30) can't be there. Because his (30) has a case of (33).
"There's no one on this (34) I'd want with me this week with more than '(31),'" he says quietly. "I know he can't be here, but he's (35)."
30. Male relative or mentor
31. Father-based nickname ... e.g., "Pappy."
32. Number suggesting callowness
33. Serious illness or tasty alcoholic beverage
34. Cosmological body
35. New-Agey mind-over-body concept
For years, they said he was too (36). Not (37) enough. Would never (38) anything. His own (30) called him a "(39)."
"This Sunday is gonna be for (40)," he says with grinning defiance. "No one thought I could (41). But where are they gonna (42) this Sunday? I hope they're ready to (43) some (44)."
39. X-chromosomal characteristic or body part (slang)
40. Mel Kiper Jr.
41. Wage-earning activity
42. Wage-spending activity
44. Distasteful winged creature
VI. THE MEDIA DAY META-RIFF
The scene at Media Day is a little slice of (45). Like something out of a (46) movie by (47). Or a song by (48).
Your faithful reporter can remember when Media Day meant scribes (49)ing alongside the coaches and players at (50)side. Now, (51) football reporters must compete with (52) for player interviews.
Some call it "journalism." I call it (53).
45. Netherworld in non-Western culture
46. Out-of-fashion film genre
47. Out-of-fashion film director
48. Out-of-fashion goth rocker
49. Verb denoting don't-ask, don't-tell resort-town activity
50. Body of resort-town water
51. Adjective that appears to mean "experienced" but in fact means "decrepit"
52. Morning-drive DJ nickname
53. Sliced delicatessen meat
VII. THE SMALL-TOWN PLAYER AT THE BIG GAME
"There are more reporters (54)ing me right now," he says, "than were in my entire (55)."
For the pride of (56) (57) (58), Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium is a long way from the hometown where there's only one (59) and there hasn't been a (60) since the (61) Administration.
Yes, it's been a quite a ride from (62) High School -- but, he jokes, "They'd set a new ratings record, if the (63)s could get TiVo in the (64)."
55. Club, church, or far-right wing terror cell
56. Compass direction
57. Type of tree
58. Feature of natural landscape
59. Sign of Western civilization
61. U.S. president generally believed to have been a felon
62. Full name of U.S. president generally agreed to have been a felon
63. Barnyard animal
64. Barnyard enclosure
VIII. THE SUPERSTAR PROFILE
At some point, Sunday's game will be placed in the hands of (65). And it will be (65)'s game to win or lose. (65) says he's looking forward to the challenge.
"I can't worry about what people say about (65)," says (65). "Only (65) knows what's best for (65). (65) will always be making (65)'s decisions. No one controls (65). And the only thing on (65)'s mind is a Super Bowl ring."
So said (65) yesterday, as scores of reporters flocked around him to get The World According to (65).
65. Full name of superstar player
IX. THE INJURED PLAYER
This week was supposed to be the fulfillment of his dream. Instead, a torn (66) has put him out of the biggest game of his lifetime.
"It still hurts -- but my real problem is my fractured (67)," he says. "When I try to plant and cut, it feels like it's been bitten by a (68). The doctors say I should be fine by (69). Till then, all I can do is hope that one of our guys will (70)."
66. Body part (covered by standard NFLPA health plan)
67. Body part (not covered by standard NFLPA health plan)
68. Bayou-based predator
69. Date closer to Final Judgment than to present-day
70. Verb meaning either "Rise to the occasion" or "Fail to get my endorsements"