`Goose' displays moves for media

Showman: With quips and lips, the Ravens' Tony Siragusa shows he's got what it takes to make it in show biz.

January 25, 2001|By Dan Rodricks | Dan Rodricks,SUN COLUMNIST

TAMPA, Florida - Tony "Da Goose" Siragusa, surrounded yesterday by reporters at a round banquet table under a circus-size tent, kissed a Japanese reporter. The smack was sudden - on the cheek, not the lips - and it left everyone around him speechless, and the Japanese reporter looking as if he had just seen Elvis.

But a kiss is just a kiss, and Siragusa was just being Siragusa, the Baltimore Ravens' blustery defensive tackle for whom Super Bowl Week seems to be as much audition for a future show business career as it is preparation for the big game.

The Baltimore Ravens have been exposed to the national media on the way to Sunday's SB XXXV, and while Ray Lewis gives the press a story with dramatic edge and head coach Brian Billick and Shannon Sharpe give hyperquotes by the yard on just about any subject imaginable, it's Siragusa who weighs in with bruising, schmoozing comic relief.

Tuesday had been Media Day in the bright outdoors of Raymond James Stadium. Yesterday, the press feeding moved across Super Bowl-drenched Tampa to a different and more appropriate setting - under the big top. All Ravens were roused from their beds at the team's hotel, the Hyatt Regency Westshore, and sent to the adjacent media tent. The players did not have to wear their uniforms, as they had on Tuesday; they wore sweat suits and T-shirts, and instead of sitting at made-for-TV podiums, they held court at the banquet tables. It was Sound Bite Buffet.

Into this came Da Goose, in standard-issue Baltimore Ravens at the Super Bowl sunglasses, and a soft porkpie hat with "Aether" across the front. He wore a Big Daddy Gear T-shirt, the size of a tablecloth, with "Big Trouble" printed on the back. He sat down, opened a national newspaper to the page with box scores from the National Hockey League, feigned interest in it and immediately drew another crowd.

Dozens of reporters, videographers and sound engineers had come into the tent for 45 minutes of foraging for more comments from Ravens players, and they stood three-deep at table No. 11, reserved for the 340-pound Siragusa. Somehow, the Super Bowl press hadn't had its fill the day before.

Then, at a podium on the floor of Raymond James Stadium, Siragusa had done his Large Tony schtick, making it clear with his New Jersey home-boy rap that he wouldn't mind a role on "The Sopranos" or maybe in the next "Home Alone" sequel. Or maybe a network TV show.

Quick quips

On that prospect, Siragusa said: "I'd like to have my own television show. I'd certainly ask better questions than I got asked today."

On the lap-dancing crackdown in Tampa clubs: "I was looking to make a few extra bucks. I can't believe they shut it down."

On playing with the Ravens other major media star, Shannon Sharpe: "When he first came to the team, he reminded me of Mr. Ed, the way his mouth moved. It was sort of horse, and then I saw his teeth and I knew it was him."

On his pregame rituals: "I like going to the corner and saying a little prayer to my old man. When we come out, I usually run over to the sideline and I grab a glass of water and then I spit."

On wearing white in the Super Bowl: "I wish we were the home team so we could wear purple and I could look a little thinner. This shirt's doing nothing for my abs."

On occupying blockers and leaving Ray Lewis free to make tackles: "Me and [defensive tackle] Sam Adams are trying to eat as much as possible so our bellies are so bloated that we can totally block out Ray Lewis."

It's the media, darling

Coming into the tent for more of this yesterday was the young, handsome and innocent Tetsya Bessho of Tokyo. Bessho, feeding material to an assortment of broadcast elements in Japan, had come with microphone to record more pronouncements of the Baltimore Ravens. He could have gone anywhere in the room - to kicker Matt Stover's table, or All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden's, or punter Kyle Richardson's. He could have visited a table where reporters again tried to get Ray Lewis to say something profound.

But the magnetic pull of Siragusa caught Bessho, and he leaned in with his microphone for some fresh Goose.

"Hey, you could sit here and tell me your high school team had a better defense than we have," Siragusa snapped at a reporter across the table." What am I gonna do, argue with you?"

"No one is as sexy as me," Da Goose added, for no apparent reason.

Then came Tetsya Bessho. Pushing through the crowd and speaking in a mild accent, he asked Siragusa to name the Ravens' toughest opponent.

"Tennessee Titans," Siragusa said.

Bessho didn't seem to hear or understand.

Siragusa grabbed a Ravens press release from the Japanese reporter's hands and pointed to a line in it.

"Our toughest opponent was here - the Tennessee Titans," Siragusa said. "You see? You have to read from left to right, not like you guys do over there."

Then, Bessho asked for it. He asked what might be called a Say-Hello question. "Could you say hello to the people of Kalamazoo?" In Bessho's case, he asked if Siragusa could "send a gift back to the people of Tokyo."

Then Tony Siragusa reached up with his big hands and grabbed both sides of Bessho's head, pulled it toward him and kissed the reporter on the cheek.

"Bring that back to Tokyo!" Siragusa crowed, then went back to the NHL box scores. Bessho broke free and spun away from the crowd of reporters, shock in his eyes. "Oh my," he said. "I am sweating so much!"

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