|“A Super Week in Review”
|By: Ron Brounes
would happen if the greatest Super Bowl of all time was played in the greatest
host city of all time and no one was talking about it just one day later? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened
this year. But rather than dwell on the
halftime program with its inappropriate dancing and loud music and distasteful
lyrics and “patriotic” outfits and obscene hand gestures and alleged accidental stripping (just when did I
become my parents?), let’s focus on the “week that was” in Houston, Texas.
I must admit I was extremely enthusiastic about
Houston hosting the Big Game this year.
And even though I realized that the $1,800 scalper price for the worst
seat in the house at Reliant Stadium was a tad bit out of my price range, I
vowed to participate in the accompanying festivities to the fullest. And for that week, I acted like a kid in a
candy store (a 41 year old kid), soaking up the atmosphere, checking out the
venues, stalking my lifelong sports (and hip hop) idols, crashing parties, and
generally experiencing the sights and sounds of the Super Bowl (sans the game
itself). And despite my lofty
expectations for a great week, I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, the week may have been just one
“boob” away from being perfect (and I’m not anti-boob, mind you).
MY WEEK’S ACTIVITIES
the first time in Super Bowl history, Houston organized an Opening Ceremonies
which was hosted by CBS sportscaster and Houston native, Jim Nantz, and included a tribute to our City’s greatest sports legends. I sat in awe as my hometown heroes, the very
people I idolized for so long, appeared on one stage together: Nolan Ryan, Earl
Campbell, Clyde Drexler, Roger Clemens, George
Foreman, Mary Lou Retton and so many more. Some looked like they could still perform at
their peak levels; sadly, others have aged considerably and appeared worn down
from one too many hits on the field. I
couldn’t help but wonder if Hebrew School had not interfered with my Little
League practice schedule, perhaps, I too would be standing on that stage. Also seated in an adjacent VIP box were such
dignitaries as former President and Barbara Bush, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue,
Mayor Bill White, Mark Elias, and Texan QB David Carr. The event was a tremendous way to kick off
the week and will be hard pressed to be matched in future years.
in the week, I attended a Super Bowl party sponsored by sports marketing firm,
Tri-Star Productions, as the guest of local celebrity, Michael Garfield, (you
know him as the High-Tech Texan).
Again, I was transformed into stalking mode as I sought autographs from
the likes of Elvin Bethea, Mike Rozier,
Ed “Too Tall” Jones, former Bellaire High School standout Frank Karkowsky, the “Fridge” (no relation to Karkowsky),
Joe DeLamielleure (what was he doing there?)
and Roger Clemens. Only Herschel Walker
played that arrogant ballplayer and refused to sign autographs, proving that
his time in Big D must have rubbed off on him.
MORE CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS
also went to the opening of a new comedy club which featured the comedic (and
filthy) antics of Jay Mohr (Bob Sugar from Jerry Maguire) who regularly appears
on national sports shows. Though I was
disappointed that his friend, Jim Rome, was not in the audience, I found out
later that those hilarious guys from TV mega hit “Yes, Dear” were present. (Just where was my autograph book when I
needed it?) Even more significant (if
that’s possible), a Hawaiian Tropics party took place directly next door to the
comedy club and featured some lovely and “well endowed” young ladies, many of
whom I recognized from my wild barhopping days.
(See, I told you, I’m not anti-boob.)
Unfortunately, none of them seemed to remember me (or they’re still
playing hard to get). I assumed I would
see some of them again at the Maxim, Playboy, and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
parties, but extra tight security kept the riff raff (and me) out of those
sought after affairs.
the week, I (along with everyone else I know) wandered through the City’s main
hotels, restaurants, malls, and downtown streets seeking out the “who’s who” of
the celebrity world. (I believe there
now may be a restraining order keeping me out of the downtown Hilton Americas.)
I dined next to Steve Young (and his family) and had drinks with Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Don Shula
(of course, they didn’t realize we are having drinks together). I watched Jim
Kelly eat fajitas at Pappasitos and learned that I
barely missed J-Lo at another restaurant.
I talked football strategy with Coach Marv
Levy (though he didn’t strategize back) and followed my sister’s hunch that
big-time celebrities eat deli when they are in town. Unfortunately, no ballplayers were at Kenny
& Ziggy’s at the time, but Marketing Exec David
Goldstein was dining with son, Miles.
(Talk about intimidating.) From
a distance I saw both P-Diddy and Puff Daddy (I’m not
sure I can tell them apart) watching a Rockets’ basketball game along with my
personal favorite entertainers Big Mo, Nelly, Jermaine
Dupri, Yanni, Adam Sandler, and a lady from some show called “The View.”
the week, our typically calm downtown was transformed into a (somewhat tamer)
Bourbon Street of sorts as literally thousands of locals and visitors packed
the city blocks for evenings filled with star gazing (celebrity not celestial)
and good natured revelry. While some
fights broke out and drunken incidents did occur, they were rare in number and
none of Ray Lewis’ entourage seemed to be involved. Our new light rail trains serviced far more
riders than had been anticipated.
Traffic seemingly flowed even more smoothly than normal. Our new sports venues were praised by all who
I’m not a PhD in economics (just a MBA and CPA), I can’t help but think the
economic impact for our City will prove to be significant. Hotels and restaurant were sold out; the
airports were busier than on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; corporate execs
met with our convention professionals to discuss future outings for businesses
and trade groups. Visitors realized that
Houston has the Galleria and NASA and fine museums and theaters and amazing
restaurants and a thriving downtown and outstanding sports facilities and
incredibly hospitable people. Further, the City offers close proximity to
beaches and cruise ships.
into the week, many people were pessimistic about Houston’s ability to
effectively host the game; they were concerned about weather, transportation
problems, construction issues, and entertainment options. Reporters wrote unfair disparaging articles
about our fair city. Based on some of
their comments, many were written prior to their arrival as they were littered
with preconceived notions of a sticky heat (it never surpassed 60 degrees), a
cowboy mentality, and an oil town in the midst of recession. I hope we proved them wrong, and if not, good
riddance. And as far the game
itself? An unexpected offensive shootout
by two teams with few superstars; a last second game winning field goal; two
gutsy and classy performances that epitomize sportsmanship; and all we can talk
about is that R-rated halftime show.
Perhaps, I should have paid that $1,800 after all?