Madonna creates singular scene on Radio Row

INDIANAPOLIS — There are entryways that everyone else uses and entryways that Madonna uses.

All week, a parade of current and former players and entertainers has accessed NFL Network’s set on Radio Row from an entrance between two barriers situated in the front. My station is directly to the left of this entrance, which meant I was going to get a close-up view of Madonna when the Super Bowl halftime star hit the scene for a sit-down with Rich Eisen.

Or so I thought. Suddenly, a buzz erupted to my left, where Radio Row organizers had stealthily constructed a separate barricaded entrance. By the time Madonna was sitting next to Eisen, hundreds of cell phones were hoisted in the air like lighters at a 1982 Journey concert.

After a 7-minute chat, Madonna posed for a photo with Eisen, signed an NFL banner, waved to the crowd behind her and disappeared amidst her army of handlers. Her customized entrance became her customized exit … and then she was gone.

Madonna is, by far, the most famous person I’ve ever been around.

When Tim Tebow milled around Radio Row a couple of hours earlier, I was amazed that he was able to hold a conversation while everyone in his general area stared at him, called out his name or took his picture. Being Madonna is like being Tim Tebow multiplied by 1,000. A 30-year career in the entertainment business has put her in rarefied pop-cultural air. It used to be her and Michael Jackson; now she sits alone.

But here’s the great thing about the Super Bowl: Madonna told Eisen she was nervous about her halftime performance. That’s the kind of statement that, when coming from such a big celebrity, usually reeks of show-biz phoniness. But in this case, she sounded genuinely apprehensive. The Super Bowl has managed to turn Madonna into an actual person.

This is the most amazing thing I’ve taken from my week in Indianapolis so far.

— Dan Hanzus

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