In their never-ending search for the fresh angle, reporters covering the Super Bowl this week have come up with some far-fetched ideas.
Someone noticed that Giant Coach Bill Parcells had quite a few sacks as a linebacker at Wichita State. So . . .
"Were you a Lawrence Taylor-type linebacker?" he asked Parcells.
"Oh yeah, but I was a little better," Parcells said. "I was definitely stronger and probably a little faster."
Bronco Coach Dan Reeves, on his special relationship with quarterback John Elway:
"John realizes he's nowhere near what he wants to be, and I'm not near what I want to be as a coach," Reeves said. "John, because his father's a coach, understands the problems of a coach. And, since I played (some) quarterback, I understand some of his problems.
"We have grown together. I was extremely immature as a coach when I came in, and he was immature as a player when he came in. I think we've both matured together."
Reeves said he still hasn't found a cure for Elway's tendency to be too pumped up at the start of a game.
"I've tried talking to him to calm him down, but it doesn't help," Reeves said. "Sometimes, I think if we could shoot him with a tranquilizer it might help."
Maybe New York's Taylor and Mark Bavaro would rather practice in their backyards and then fly out for Super Bowl XXI on Sunday morning, but their coach has decided he likes things just the way they are.
Asked for the umpteenth time if the distractions of this week have been a problem, Parcells came up with a new perspective Friday.
"I was thinking about it this morning and, in all honesty, I actually have a better controlled situation here than I do during the regular season," he said. "You know where your players are. They ride the bus to practice, they ride the bus back. You're with them seven, eight hours a day and you stay together after practice watching films.
"Really, the media distractions aren't a problem. It's a time for the players to enjoy the attention they've earned. And I think they've done that."
So why do some of them complain so much?
"Well, you know, that's just what players do," he said, shrugging.
Parcells has displayed a slightly off-beat sense of humor all week and was in good form for Friday's 8:30 a.m. press conference, too.
Question: Coach, what is your definition of a Jersey guy?
Answer: That's a guy who lives in New Jersey.
Q: Do ever have problems with your temper? Have you ever been out of control on the field?
A: Out of control? No. Have I ever gotten mad? Yes. Frequently? Yes. To the point where I appear out of control? Yes.
Denver's Reeves was impressed.
"He's funny," Reeves said. "He comes up with some very witty stuff. I wish I was that witty."
Reeves says the Broncos are ready. So ready, in fact, that he could hardly stand to watch practice Thursday.
"I was really worried," he said. "I was hoping practice would hurry up and get over with because of the intensity. Guys were flying around, diving for footballs, running into each other, and every time someone hits the ground, you hold your breath, hoping he'll get up.
"When you practice with that level of intensity, you're always worried about getting someone hurt."
Most fans know all about MVP Taylor and the NFL's most talented backup trio of linebackers, Giants Harry Carson, Gary Reasons and Carl Banks. And they have no doubt heard about Denver's Tom Jackson, the oldest linebacker in the NFL, the over-achieving Karl Mecklenburg and the potentially great Ricky Hunley, too.
But Reeves thinks that Super Bowl XXI's least publicized linebacker, Bronco Jim Ryan, will play a key role Sunday.
"Jim Ryan is the most underrated linebacker on our football team," Reeves said. "About midseason, Joe (Collier, Bronco defensive coordinator) decided to change our signal calling from inside linebacker to Jim (the left outside linebacker), and he's directed our defenses very well.
"He's kept us in the right defenses all the time, made the right shifts and the right audible calls at the line of scrimmage. And he's really played outstanding football in the two playoff games."
Reeves believes that Denver's role as an underdog gives the Broncos a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I hope we will be back in the Super Bowl again," he said. "But I don't know that the circumstances will ever be the same as they are this year, since nobody thinks we can win this football game.
"To me, that's a great opportunity. If we win this game, it will be--in a lot of people's mind--one of the great accomplishments of all time."
Times staff writer Larry Stewart contributed to this story.