Ex-Colts PR director sees many similarities between NFL and TV

Vernon Cheek knows all about the media crush awaiting the Steelers and Packers when they arrive in North Texas on Monday for Super Bowl XLV.A year ago, Cheek was a publicist for the Indianapolis Colts.

“I was answering a lot of questions from the rookies, about what to expect on Media Day,” recalled Cheek, who worked for eight years as the Colts’ assistant director of public relations. “I was trying to play it down, so that it didn’t seem too big.”
“The goal is to make it the same as a normal week.”

Cheek is out of football now, but still in the publicity business for CBS, handling three shows — Criminal Minds, Rules of Engagement and Let’s Make a Deal.

After a full career in sports — including NFL stops with the Bears, Seahawks and Saints, and a stint at his alma mater, Grambling, for legendary coach Eddie Robinson’s final three years — Cheek sees some similarities in the television environment.

The common denominator between quarterback Peyton Manning and actor Joe Mantegna? “Consistency,” Cheek says. “I don’t know which one has the most pressure.”

Cheek, based in the Los Angeles area, found it amusing that Colts receiver Reggie Wayne called and asked, “Hey, have you met Halle Berry?”

“It’s like athletes really want to be actors,” he says, “and actors want to be athletes.”

Colts star Dallas Clark might actually get a shot at such crossover duty on Criminal Minds. Cheek says that one of the show’s writers, Rick Dunkle, is an Indianapolis native whose favorite player is Clark. They met last month.

Said Cheek, “He told Dallas, ‘You should come on the show and we can kill you.’