Sights and sounds of the Super Bowl….
I was lucky enough to attend Super Bowl XXXIX. Arriving in Jacksonville Saturday evening, we toured the downtown traffic in frigid temperatures and car exhaust. Thousands of different parties and events were being held around the city, including the exclusive Playboy and Maxim parties. The NFL Experience was in full swing, as well as the Pepsi Smash Concert Series, featuring Jo Dee Messina, among others.
The parties continued well into the night, with only a brief respite for breakfast and coffee Sunday morning. We ate at a local hotel which housed many members of the media as well as families of the NFL. The First Celeb Sighting of the Day: The unmistakable Deion Sanders in the lobby.
After lining our stomachs with powdered eggs and cold coffee, we headed over to the Miller Beer Party which was held at the River City Brewing Company. There, we were treated to wonderful food, drink and an intimate performance by Hootie and The Blowfish, who sounded amazing against the backdrop of the St. John’s River, which was lined with yachting tailgaters. I trust newly-nominated to the Hall of Fame, Dan Marino, enjoyed the show as well.
The city was alive on the way to Alltel Stadium. Fans and locals jammed the streets, festive and good- spirited under the bright Florida sunshine. Tailgate parties spilled from cars and RV’s; turning the make-shift parking lots into huge backyard BBQ’s. Vendors sold their wares, (some licensed, some not) and zealots reminded us that “Jesus Saves.” Security was tight, but reasonable, and 90 minutes before kickoff we had little wait to get in.
Unofficially, I’d guess that Eagles fans outnumbered Patriots’ by 2 to 1. Or least they were simply twice as loud. Wigs, Mardi gras beads, face paint, bizarre headgear…all were costumes of fervent fans.
Once inside, celebrities paraded the pre-game show. Former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton spoke about tsunami relief in Southeast Asia. Gretchen Wilson and Charlie Daniels sang to the arriving crowd. Will Smith introduced the Black-Eyed Peas and John Fogerty before Alicia Keys sang “America the Beautiful.” Michael Douglas announced the impressive military presence in attendance as 3 military planes flew over head.
The game was just as millions of others watched on television, and no one needed a Fox commentary to note the lack of hurry-up offense and non-existent clock management that cost Philly the game.
At the newly-ordained chaste Half-time show, Paul McCartney did his stellar best to maintain this year’s theme of “Bridging the Generations.” Hundreds of dancing youngsters who were not even born when The Beatles burst onto the scene, jumped in rhythmic empathy. Spectators were each treated to seat cushions from Ameriquest Mortgage, which contained our props for the audience participation portion: a color-coordinated card, mini flashlight and personal radio from Sirius Satellite Radio. (And as an aside, I had no idea what spectator artwork we were creating despite the little pre-cut peepholes in our giant cards.)
Fireworks lit up the sky after every touchdown, music poured from speakers as more celebrities and athletes appeared on the Jumbo Trons to the 80,000+ in the stands. It was a night to remember no matter which side of the field you sat on.
Exhausted, freezing, hoarse, and maybe even a little tipsy; we left the stadium amongst the explosions of the confetti cannons and the presentation of the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the New England Patriots. Pats fans chanted, “DYNASTY! DYNASTY!” as others chanted, “AT LEAST WE COVERED.” Whatever gets you through the season, I suppose. Newly-printed championship merchandise flooded the stands, as the spending frenzy continued in earnest.
On the noisy trip back to the bus, we were offered $20 for our ticket stubs which, according to at least one roadside sign, would have fetched $4000 four hours ago.
Perhaps this is where the slogan, “Priceless” was derived.