INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time in Super Bowl history, the beautiful madness of Radio Row is open to the public.
Fans poured into a fenced-off section of the JW Marriott’s vast conference room to drank in a swirling media frenzy that reduced Media Day to a tranquil walk with grandma.
“The unfettered access to all the people is just amazing,” said Chris Walthers of Indianapolis. “I went to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis in ’91, and it was nothing like this. I mean, this is unbelievable.”
His friend, Aaron DelPrince, knows that hometown Super Bowls only come around so often: “We wanted to get a flavor of what goes on at Radio Row, and since it’s in our backyard, we wanted to experience what really goes on here.”
The early reviews on Indy’s Super Bowl week are glowing, and it’s a challenge to imagine a more welcoming contingent of locals. These are loyalists, and it’s clear how most would choose to handle Peyton Manning‘s future with the Colts, if given the chance.
“I think you’re going to find most fans here in Indy want Manning to return,” Delprince said. “We’re just hopeful that he’s healthy and can come back, because I think if he does come back, we’re immediately back in the hunt for a Super Bowl.”
Jets fan Isaac Mattos hit Radio Row in a weather-worn Wayne Chrebet jersey and wasn’t shy about his desire to see Manning dolled up in green next season.
But, Isaac, what about Mark Sanchez?
“Who?” he laughed, before turning away to dream of better tomorrows in Florham Park.
– Marc Sessler