DETROIT - There’s an easy way to tell which media members have pull. They have assistants.
Michael Irvin walked into a bar Monday night wearing shades. The sunglasses did not distinguish him. Anybody can wear sunglasses at night. Here’s how you do it: (A) Go out at night; (B) wear sunglasses.
Walking a respectful three steps behind Irvin, the former Dallas receiver who now is an ESPN guy, was his assistant. I don’t know what the guy’s title was, assistant to Mr. Irvin, valet to Mr. Irvin or Robin to Mr. Batman. Or, if Irvin was Green Lantern, the other guy was Kato.
Irvin would go left and Robin would go left. Irvin would go right and Robin would go right. Irvin would make a quick survey of the bar, realize he wasn’t interested and turn, and Robin would stop, spin and, without ever breaking stride, keep up, which means staying three steps behind.
At media day Tuesday morning, a guy from the Best Damn Sports Show stood next to me a few yards away from Jerome Bettis. It was a great vantage point for an interview, but the TV guy overreacted. He got excited and started to jump and raise his arm and say, "Michael! Michael!"
Would it be Irvin again, and if so, would he wear shades at Ford Field, which has a ceiling?
The Best Damn Sports Show guy talked so loudly you I longer could hear Bettis, even though the voice of Bettis was amplified through two speakers.
"Michael, Michael, I’m here on the right, next to the speaker!" the man said either into a telephone or into the air. A good sidekick should know his role. A good sidekick never attracts this kind of attention by talking so loud. When Sidekicks Go Bad. Sounds like a new show on the WB.
Suddenly, Michael appeared, Michael Strahan, the fine New York Giants defensive end turned reporter. His assistant, his advance man, had come early to find a good place for Strahan to stand.
I’d say it doesn’t seem fair that the former NFL guys turned media stars have Robins. But after Pittsburgh finished its session with the media, I saw a reporter go up to Strahan, hand a camera to a co-worker and ask the friend to take a picture of him with Strahan. That’s wrong; what if the reporter has to rip Strahan? He can’t, at least not if he has a conscience, since he owes Strahan a favor.
Strahan posed for the picture. Where was Kato when you need him? He probably was standing the buffet line, holding a place for Green Lantern.