HOUSTON - Thousands of reporters have converged on Houston for the week to cover the Super Bowl, and the accompanying hysteria.
That media spectacle is on full display inside the George R. Brown Convention during Radio Row.
"This event has just exploded," explained longtime CBS Sports radio host Mike Francesa. "This is sports on steroids."
Francesa has watched coverage of the event grow over the past three decades.
"We used to go to the Super Bowl and take the 'Mike and the Mad Dog Show' there, and be the only station there. We didn't even notice other stations showing up for three or four years," Francesa said. "The first year I remember there being even a little bit of a radio row was out in L.A. for Dallas-Buffalo. And after that, more and more stations, as sports radio started to grow."
He said he couldn't believe how much the coverage has grown over the years.
"It's gotten crazy. I mean, it really has. It's really almost like a trade show now, or a convention. That's what I always tell people. The Super Bowl is now a convention or a trade show, and then on the weekend, it's a football game," said Francesa, adding that many who come to Houston for the Super Bowl don't make it to the game.
Francesa recalled the changes in access to those directly involved with the Super Bowl, using an example from his coverage during Super Bowl XXV in Tampa in 1991.
"We had offensive (and) defensive coordinators coming down doing our show, actually sitting across from us," Francesa said. "You couldn't even bring anybody who has any connection to the game into this place now. They couldn't even get through the place, they'd be mobbed. So the idea that anybody involved with the game even stepping foot into this place is so far gone."
The widespread media availability also brings in many players not competing in Sunday's game, like New Orleans Saints star quarterback Drew Brees.
"You're talking about one of the great football states, right. So people get excited about football and what is the pinnacle of our game which is the Super Bowl championship," Brees said.
Brees is in Houston helping promote Chevron's STEM initiative, which combines math, science, and technology.
"STEM education is really kind of a thing that brings our game to life," Brees said. "When you talk about the Super Bowl itself, and all the science and technology is behind-the-scenes for that. And it's about getting kids excited about that. It's about exposing them to it, and inspiring them with it at a very young age. So it's potentially something that they pursue later on. There's about 4 million tech jobs that are out there for the taking. So for young people to see that that's a great avenue, it's a great field, it's something that can be very exciting and worthwhile. It's great that Chevron's trying to inspire kids through STEM education."
As he was shepherded from interview to interview throughout the day, Brees said he enjoyed seeing familiar faces.
"I've got relationships with a lot of the guys that I end up talking to on the radio," Brees said. "Some of them are former players, or former coaches, some of them are just longtime media guys you've known your whole career. So there's relationships there, so each one stands alone."
The Saints gunslinger was Super Bowl XLIV to cap off the 2010 season. He said the Super Bowl experience has only expanded since he starred in the big game.
"This is incredible. It's just blown up so much. I think the best part about it is the economic impact in which it comes to," Brees said.
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