I’ll never forget the first Super Bowl game I attended: XXVII at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (1993). It created great memories, first and foremost because I was able to take my Dad. He and I, my business partner at the time, and a client/friend had seats about one-third of the way up the stands – exactly on the 50 yard line. It was an unbelievable experience, starting with all the free food and gimmes we got at NFL pregame parties that weekend and at the Rose Bowl – all part of an amazingly affordable American Express Platinum package. Among a plethora of NFL stars we met and talked with at a Beverly Hills reception, my dominant memory is of Gale Sayers. He was gracious, quietly affable, and not getting the level of attention he deserved. He didn’t complain, even as he stood waiting for his car from valet parking. Not special valet, but the one we all used. Still have an autographed football with his signature and many others. Only Joe Namath played the recalcitrant egotist.
The Cowboys were all over the Buffalo Bills, blowing them away early en route to a 52-17 victory. Troy Aikman began his march to the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a great performance, completing 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 28 yards. Forgotten piece of trivia: O.J. Simpson performed the coin toss. More memorable bit of triva: Michael Jackson, the halftime entertainment, ushered in the era of the over-the-top Super Bowl halftime shows. Watching them setup and tear down between commercials was incredible. Amazing show.
My next Super Bowl was the contest – well, at least it was supposed to be a contest – between the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers in Miami (1995). The weather was Miami balmy, the game entertaining for the first half, and my seats not nearly as good. A late purchase, their point of interest was that we were surrounded by families of many of the players. No, they weren’t close to the 50 yard line. Again we took an important client along with senior vp of KMA, Butch Maltby. A three-day cruise with transportation to and from Joe Robbie Stadium (as it was then called) turned out to be the most cost effective way to handle accommodations and food. It was fabulous. We spent a good deal of time talking around the table with the Dallas Cowboys’ director of scouting, Larry Lacewell, and his wife. The only difference was that he and his wife sat in a box with Jerry Jones for the game. We met up again after the game for a lavish buffet in the open air upper deck of our cruise ship. To the relaxing beat of a steel drum band, we lived the high life into the night after the game. Great fun for all, especially Kathi and me. 49ers won easily, 49-26.
That brings us to the great sleet, ice, snow and howling subzero windchills of Super Bowl XLV. Right here in the Metroplex. No, I don’t have tickets to this one. Nor do I have clients expecting me to make their day. I’m just glad that the rolling blackouts have not hit our home yet. And while I’m not excited about going to the game, I am excited by the prospects that we will be able to get out of the house by the day of the game. The frigid temperatures and the frozen, icy, slick streets of the neighborhood have us watching life from a recliner. Not quite the same experience or level of exhilaration as one gets at a Super Bowl.
My one great satisfaction of Super Bowl XLV is the dramatic proof that Jerry Jones is not God. Let’s just hope that Jerry World doesn’t get clobbered by excess humidity or some other oddity that will make the game a sliding affair. For what it’s worth, I’m pulling for the Packers all the way. Tough call for a Cowboy fan, given the rivalries and disappointments we’ve experienced at the hands of the Steelers and the Packers. But, all the fun notwithstanding, it is just a game: a diversion for a nation that has made diversions its national priority.