FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Garbo speaks.
OK, it's really just Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison. But in the spectrum of NFL stars, Harrison is about as close as it gets to Greta Garbo, the mysterious woman who somehow combined being an actress while also being reclusive.
On Tuesday, Harrison will be forced by the NFL to break out of his quiet style. Not just forced, but pushed by almost inhuman standards.
Harrison will have to take on Super Bowl Media Day, with all its buffoonery. This day is to journalism what Paris Hilton is to singing.
Approximately 2,000 reporters will fill the field at Dolphin Stadium for the Colts' one-hour media session on Tuesday. Harrison will have to do this cold turkey. On Monday night, when the Colts arrived in Fort Lauderdale and held a brief press conference at their team hotel, Harrison wasn't among those who talked.
Neither was quarterback Peyton Manning or fellow wide receiver Reggie Wayne as the Colts continued to dismiss the NFL's desire to put some of the team's high-profile talent on display. Absent the "big three" players, the Colts had tight end Dallas Clark, kicker Adam Vinatieri, safety Bob Sanders, linebacker Gary Brackett, defensive tackle Anthony McFarland and center Jeff Saturday available along with coach Tony Dungy.
Indianapolis, under the thumb of team president Bill Polian's antagonist approach to the NFL, has intentionally not made some of its stars more available in the playoffs.
Harrison didn't talk to the general media before the AFC championship game. Manning was available only once all week leading up to the game against the New England Patriots, infuriating media outlets around the country as the NFL office pleaded with the Colts to change their approach. However, there is no avoiding the circumstance, lest the Colts wish to face a stiff fine from the league.
Really, most people in and around the Colts are actually amused with the idea of Harrison being on such a big stage. By rough count, Harrison, a 10-year veteran, has spoken with the Indianapolis Star roughly five times since the beginning of training camp. Aside from that, he has done approximately four one-on-one interviews with other television or print outlets.
That in part explains why Clark and Brackett smiled when asked about Harrison talking on Tuesday.
"Really?" Brackett said, straight-faced when asked about the fact that Harrison doesn't talk very often with the media. Brackett then broke out in a smile. "He doesn't talk with you guys, but he talks with us. He'll joke around the locker room … he's a quick-witted kind of guy."
So, Bracket was asked, what's the best line you've ever heard from Harrison?
"To me, it was the Tennessee game a couple of years ago," Brackett said. "At one point, Peyton threw a pass that looked out of reach. Yet he reached back, caught [it] and stayed inbounds to make it good. Then he got up and waved everybody down the field."
But Gary, that's not a line, that's a play, a reporter said.
"Hey, that's all we needed," Brackett said.
Sure, there have been some good tales about Harrison over the years. A couple of seasons ago, The Sporting News wrote a detailed account about how Harrison was a junk-food junkie. Harrison has Tasty Kake snacks flown to Indianapolis from his hometown Philadelphia to feed his need.
The Washington Post did a detailed story on him earlier this year. So did the Philadelphia Inquirer and Sports Illustrated. Still, Harrison wasn't all that revealing. He is one of only four receivers in NFL history with 1,000 receptions. He has gotten there by perfecting his moves and his pass routes the way Greg Maddux perfected his off-speed pitches.
Like Maddux, Harrison reveals very little about his art.
"He has his moments," Clark said. "He's a great guy around the locker room. I think he made a decision at an early point in his career that he wasn't going to talk a lot. He does his thing. He doesn't have to use the media to tell everybody how good he is."
Still, isn't it going to be just a little interesting to see how Harrison handles Media Day, complete with the people who dress in costume, the child "reporters" and the annual appearance by someone representing Comedy Central?
"Hey, Marv is Marv," Clark said. "You're trying to find out what he's like and we're trying to find out, too."