NEW ORLEANS - At least no one stuck a microphone in his face Tuesday morning at the Superdome and asked Al Netter that if Al could be any dog, what dog would that be?
"I don't know if I could put all this (Super Bowl) into words," said Netter, the Cardinal Newman and Northwestern offensive lineman who signed with the 49ers following the NFL draft and spent his rookie season on the practice squad.
Others tried to help Netter, however. He was asked to play a word association game. First thing that pops into your mind, said the guy with the microphone.
"Losing the Super Bowl."
"Not going to happen."
"One thing you won't do this week."
That guy left and another guy immediately took his spot. For those who have never met Al Netter, he is about the most approachable large human being you have ever seen. Netter was told to roll with the punches and this guy asked Netter a question no one in their right mind could ever see coming.
"If you could have a football game with a twist, what would that twist be?"
Netter looked at the guy as if someone asked him for the Portuguese recipe for pork chops. Huh? Netter didn't answer at first because he didn't know what the heck the guy was talking about. Netter stood there with his wheels spinning. I could tell because I heard them spinning. Then the light bulb went off. And I thank you for tolerating this mixed metaphor.
Said Netter, "I would want both Harbaughs to dress in pads, a uniform and a helmet, dress in their sport's uniform, just like baseball managers do. And then go coach the game. That would be fun."
I thought it was a smart PG response, given the odd nature of the question. Actually I thought it was better than anything I could have invented. The microphone guy looked at Netter like he was lame and walked off. I'm sure the guy was looking for something from Netter at least PG-13, something racy or scatological. On Media Day too many questions are asked with the hope they turn into an embarrassing YouTube moment. Netter knows better. He's Barbara's and Joe's kid and they taught him not to act the rube. By the way, his parents will fly down Thursday, at the 49ers' expense.
"I'm very careful to what I say," he said.
In some ways going down Bourbon Street is easier than you might imagine. People ask only one question when he's out in public.
"I get stopped every 30 seconds," Netter said, "They ask what team I play for. I say Niners and they take my picture."
Do they know who he is? No. Do they know it's unlikely he'll play unless someone is hurt?
No. But he's a Niner in the Super Bowl, a professional football player! Immediate credibility.
"It's hard to hide when you're 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds," Netter said.
On the other hand, Netter could really have impressed a stranger if he told them he played AAU summer basketball for Joe Montana when Netter was at Newman. And Joe coached him.
"Along with his sons Nate and Nick," said Netter, 23. "I know the family a little bit."