It's the Sunday before, seven days from gametime, and we set the stage for Super Bowl Week as the Bears, Colts and battalions of journalists start to arrive. Here are the major themes Your Friend the Media have commenced beating into an unrecognizable pulp:
1. African-American head coaches in Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, the first two ever in a Super Bowl. Exhorting my media brethren to take this obvious story a step further, though. When will the NFL finally have a Japanese head coach!? A Muslim!? A woman!? Or, ideally, a black woman with a Japanese dad whose pep talks quote liberally from the Koran.
2. Will Peyton Manning finally win a Super Bowl ring? Will any story about this succeed in not referencing Dan Marino? Rare Super Bowl here. Media far less interested in the star quarterback's injured thumb than in his naked finger.
3. The putridity of Rex Grossman. Will he be the worst quarterback ever to start in a Super Bowl? Answer: Almost. Saving my media colleagues the research with two words: Vince Ferragamo.
4. Old Dolphins angle. A natural. You have Marino in the CBS booth. That epic 1985 Bears-Dolphins game. The 1972 Perfectos lurking, eager to be interviewed. You even have a Colts player named Jake Scott.
5. Host city. This is lazy-journalist heaven and -- Holy Don Johnson! -- Miami is a ripe target with the easy drug-and-gun references. The thing is, with the past two Super Bowls having been in stinky Jacksonville and God-forsaken Detroit, we can't help but look like paradise.
6. The Serious Sociological Story. Here, an enterprising writer forays into underprivileged part of town -- foraying is much easier in a pair of $300 Bruno Maglis -- to chronicle the sad juxtaposition of Super Bowl excess and glitz with real-life Miami. Journalist quickly discovers, however, that enterprising writers far outnumber underprivileged Miamians, and soon the discouraged writers repair to Bayside and, over cocktails, bemoan the absence of 1989-style rioting.
Speaking of the underprivileged, that reminds me. I was driving to The Herald building in downtown Miami today and a bum in a ratty gray sweat shirt approached my car at an intersection. I asked if he needed a lift, but Bill Belichick told me no thanks.
(*) Some local fans are upset that no barbecuing, alcohol or any form of tailgating will be allowed within a mile of the stadium. It's an NFL rule. Security reasons. And it makes sense. Government intelligence indicates 78 percent of terrorists got their start grilling chicken and brats outside an American football stadium.
(*) Evidently those upset by the no-tailgating rule have not yet been made aware that Super Bowls are now corporate events having little to do with actual football fans. However, the league is trying to keep some of the spirit of tailgating and real fans. For example, inside one of the mammoth corporate tents, among the linen-covered tables and sumptuous catered food, there will be an elaborate, life-sized ice sculpture depicting a man with a painted face squatting over a Hibachi.
(*) Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown is selling his Toyota Sequoia and two Super Bowl tickets on eBay in a package that had fetched a high bid of $35,100 when last checked. This is where, if I were mean, I'd mention that one of the features of Brown's Toyota is its low yardage.
(*) The Chicago Bears arrive today, beating the Indianapolis Colts by a day. Based on the point spread reflecting the nearly unavoidable participation in the game of Grossman, it may be the last time we see the Bears beating the Colts at anything. Expected to greet the team at Miami International Airport: Host Committee members; local politicians and dignitaries; and Michael Vick, handing out souvenir fake water bottles with secret hidden compartments.
(*) Chicago's travel party was to include nose tackle Tank Johnson, cleared by a judge to join the team after being arrested Dec. 14 on six counts of possessing an unlicensed gun while on probation for an earlier weapons charge. Welcome, Tank. You are at home here. You are one of us. In Miami, the gun shops have drive-through windows. Around here, when kids bust open piñatas at birthday parties, weapons fall out.
(*) The Bears are Miami-Dade's team in this Super Bowl, arriving in Miami, staying at the Miami Airport Hilton and practicing at UM's facility. And the Colts are Broward's team, arriving at the Fort Lauderdale airport, staying at the city's Marriott Harbor Beach and practicing at Dolphins HQ in Davie. Cannot confirm a rumor that, in keeping with the Bears' Dade-ization, Grossman will be calling plays in Spanish and Lovie Smith will begin his first local news conference with an anti-Castro screed.
(*) This officially is the ''South Florida Super Bowl,'' by the way, not the ''Miami Super Bowl.'' Other host cities don't regionalize; it isn't the Southeast Louisiana Super Bowl. We're weird, though. Think of us as a dysfunctional family. Broward is the mentally unstable jealous little brother who we thought might become enraged and do something rash if we called it the ``Miami Super Bowl.''
(*) The Super Bowl is all about kids. There are youth football clinics this weekend at the Orange Bowl and Lockhart Stadium, and, today, there will be cheerleading and dance-team events on the Dolphin Stadium grounds. It is estimated that, of the 4,000 or so kids involved in these activities, as many as half a dozen may someday, as grownups, be able to afford Super Bowl tickets.
(*) Finally, the NFL Experience, an 850,000-square-foot interactive theme park, is now open for business at Dolphin Stadium. There are more than 50 games and attractions including many designed to let fans feel what it's really like to be a player. For example, at a special Cincinnati Bengals-themed exhibit, fans get to experience what it's like to be arrested.