Mark Humphrey
January 27, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) New England Patriots offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer spent a good portion of his hour-long media session answering questions in German.

Vollmer grew up in Germany, so it makes sense, but it also exemplifies how much of an international event the Super Bowl has become.

Quite a few of the 2,000 journalists jammed across the floor of the US Airways Center at Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday were from foreign outlets, including some of the more outrageous ones who gave the event some international flavor.

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GERMAN CONTINGENT

Though Germany hasn't quite latched onto American football, there's still plenty of interest in the Super Bowl.

More than 30 German journalists traveled to Arizona this week to cover the big game and to provide updates on Vollmer.

''Interest is getting more and more,'' said Marc Behrenbeck, a reporter for Sky Sport News in Munich. ''In Germany, football isn't that big, soccer is huge; football is very tiny compared to (soccer), but it's getting more and more popular.''

Behrenbeck has covered the Super Bowl seven times and connected with fellow German reporters through the years, some of them from Germany, others who relocated to the U.S.

The contingent of German reporters spent most of the day around Vollmer, jumping in with questions in German.

''Actually, it's a tiny football family that's getting bigger every year,'' Behrenbeck said.

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VOLLMER'S SUPER ROUTE

Vollmer took an unconventional route to the Super Bowl.

Born in Dusseldorf, he grew up swimming and playing basketball, and didn't start playing football until he was 14.

After leading his prep school to a pair of national championships, Vollmer played in the Global Junior Championships in San Diego, where he secured a scholarship to the University of Houston.

Despite knowing no English when he arrived, Vollmer adapted quickly and was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft.

Now he's making his second Super Bowl appearance.

''I wouldn't say it (the journey) was bizarre, but it wasn't always easy,'' Vollmer said. ''But I wouldn't trade it for anything, either.''

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PUPPET SHOW

International reporters tend to be some of the wackiest at Media Day, including a Mexican TV reporter who wore a wedding dress and asked Tom Brady to marry her in 2008.

This year session didn't seem to have as many wild stunts, but there were some interesting moments involving the foreign press.

One TV team from Azteca Deportes brought along a pair of bug-eyed, bucktoothed hand puppets that helped the reporter ask questions. Two men kneeled to the sides of the reporter and held the puppets up, shouting out apparently-irreverent questions - at least based on the laughter - in Spanish.

The puppets did one interview with a German reporter who had fake scars on his face like a zombie and later cornered Seahawks center Patrick Lewis.

''I don't know what they're saying,'' Lewis said to the reporter after one of the puppets asked him a question.

''They want to know how big your girlfriend is,'' the reporter said.

''Big enough,'' the 6-foot-1, 311-pound Lewis said with a laugh.

Gina Holguin, a model and reporter for a Mexican media company Televisa, danced with Seattle's Richard Sherman at the end of his session.

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CANADA STRONG

Canada will have a pair of players to root for in the Super Bowl for the second straight season: Seahawks tight end Luke Willson and punter Jon Ryan.

Willson, who grew up outside Windsor, Ontario, made his way to the NFL after playing at Rice University, where he learned a quick lesson in how big football is in the United States.

''It was pretty intense, especially coming from Canada,'' Willson said. ''It was a very, very different atmosphere. Football is almost like a religion down there, so it was kind of cool in that sense to have that many people care about the game of football.''

Ryan, of Regina, Saskatchewan, never got to experience football in America until he ended up in the NFL - with Green Bay in 2006 - by way of the CFL and the University of Regina.

''Growing up in Canada, I never thought I'd have the opportunity to play in the NFL,'' said Ryan, who threw a touchdown pass on a trick play in Seattle's comeback win over the Packers in the NFC Championship. ''Now to have been playing here for nine years, playing in my second Super Bowl is really a dream come true.''

The Seahawks have one other foreign-born player on its roster: Defensive lineman Jesse Williams, who was born in Brisbane, Australia. He spent the season on injured reserve after injuring his knee during fall camp.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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