Diary from the desert
I know I'm tired because because when I typed Super Bowl Diary as the slug at the top of this thing, it came out Super owl Diary, and I was so wasted that I didn't catch the typo. I was made aware that something was up when I caught
"Oh yes, news from the Super Owl," she cackles. "Leave it that way. It's much better."
Actually this is a playoff diary because I want to do a slight inclusion of my Green Bay trip, so I can get a quick zinger in on the airlines, which one should attack at every opportunity. But more on that, Media Day and the Hall of Fame later.
This morning as Super Bowl Sunday dawned the whole landscape changed. The story that broke out of Boston, that the Patriots had taped the Rams' walkthrough before the 2002 Super Bowl, places the whole event under suspicion. Cheat in a Super Bowl? I mean, it's one thing to get caught cheating at the beginning of the regular season, but to take it to the biggest arena of all? Wow, this puts the whole thing under a cloud.
How shallow it makes the entire promotion seem, the parties, the endless hype, the reams of copy devoted to the magnificence of the unbeaten Patriots. Of course there might be nothing to the story, but still, suspicion hangs over this game like some deadly fog. It makes everything we've read all week, all the stories we've gathered ourselves, seem like the ultimate in hypocrisy. It puts the league itself under suspicion and brings the commissioner,
If the Spygate II story is correct, then the Patriots have blinded a lot of people in their devious march to immortality.
Speaking of devious, the airline that used to be my favorite now practices the Evil Arts of lying along with the rest of them.
"Can't take off while it's snowing," was the cheery announcement accounting for our delay getting out of Newark en route to Green Bay for the Giants-Packers game. I saw a few raindrops. No snow. The delay set up a four-and-a-half hour major league delay when I blew my Milwaukee-to-Green Bay connection. The delay coming back, via the same route, was only three and a half hours because of heavy snow and two de-icing stops.
"Wow, a double lie," I thought, which came only six lies short of my all-time lying flight. They certainly could, and did, take off in snow, and it hadn't actually been snowing the first time. You always expect the worst and you're never disappointed. That's air travel. But you've got your own problems, right?
No such problems traveling to Phoenix, although
Our first meal in Phoenix, right off the plane, was in one of the Redhead's old hangouts, La Pinata. Now as for me, a New York City boy, a Mexican restaurant is a Mexican restaurant, but Linda grew up in Phoenix, see, and she explained to me the nuances and varieties of the cuisine in a numbing litany. There's Arizona Mex and Tex Mex and Mix Mex and Sex Mex and Messmex and I can say that La Piñata was delicious, leaning heavily toward the melted cheese in almost everything, plus Margaritas that actually presented the stirrings of something alcoholic. Usually these things strike me as mere fruit juice concoctions people try to con you into believing pack a real wallop.
Next day we did a quick tour of her old haunts. Central Ave., the main drag, was ripped down the seam for miles and miles, to make room for something called the Light Rail. You don't drive it. It's like negotiating a shallow crater. Phoenicians aren't happy about their city being presented in such chaotic fashion.
"It's like the lady you invited over for Thanksgiving dinner showing up with curlers in her hair," says the Redhead. You are fooled by the hype and the roster of parties and the forced hysteria, but between you and me, the people of Phoenix would be just as happy if this event never showed up. At least that's what was relayed to me by Linda's family and friends, who have to live here once the glitter has worn off.
Monday dawned fresh and clear. Fluffy clouds, a pleasant breeze, temperature in the mid-60's. "You get maybe four or five a days a year like this here," the Redhead says. Some people complain about the cold. "Can you imagine?" says Linda, who sweated through plenty of 115-degree days before I came to take her away.
At breakfast I meet some sports legends. The Celadrin Tigerettes of Livingston, La., whooping it up at the next table. They are the New England Patriots of Senior Women's Basketball.
"We're on our way to play the CBS anchors!" Wanda hollers at me. "Some kind of slow-moving local team?" I ask. "No, honey!" she hollers, and kapow! I get one on the back. "The anchormen from the TV station." I wish them luck.
The newspapers remind you that the hype has started for real. Dirty play is an early angle. New England LT
Am I really getting too old for this? Who knows?
I run into
"Nope, '67's the one I always had a spot in my heart for," he said. "We didn't have the best personnel. Our guys were getting older, but we just had something special. We had to go 65 yards. Our last 10 possessions, 31 plays, had gained nine yards, and now we had to go 65 in four and a half minutes. What in the world would possess you to think you could go all that way when you hadn't done anything?
"One time we had a second-and-18.
"I knew we reached down for something ... I really didn't know what we were reaching for. A piece of Lombardi, I guess."
Press day at the stadium Tuesday. I arrive at the field just in time to catch the day's dramatic highlight. In the shadow of
"I feel so much safer now," I tell the security guy, whose name reads
"Where you from again?" he asks me. I tell him, "
A few years ago I attended a New York tasting of the new vintage wines, sponsored by the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux. I had gotten Linda in as the photographer for the
As we made the rounds, I noticed that people were looking at her and smiling. I hadn't bothered to look at her tag. Finally I did when we got home. It said, BAZUNA REPUBLIC. She had worn it all afternoon. Ah yes, that great emerging nation somewhere on the Ivory Coast. So now the Redhead and I always refer to the paper as The Bazuna.
It's packed with stuff. Every issue has its share of interview features called Five Minutes With.
And then: BUNCH OF QUESTIONS FOR BRADY The Ankle (three questions). "It's feeling better every day." The Pains of Celebrity (five questions). "With everything in life there's a little bit of give and take."
Five Minutes With ...
"What do you before every game? Do you have any superstitions?"
"No, not really."
Oh, man, what he could have done with this kind of question, if only he had a sense of humor. Please, God, some day give me a shot at something like this.
"Oh, nothing much, except for that dead chicken I bury at the 50-yard line every week."
I'm not as a writer, supposed to root for a team. And I won't. Except ... except ... an awful lot of publications already have their Dynasty Edition ready to run, predicated on a Patriot victory. And wouldn't it just be hilarious if ... no, no rooting. Sorry I even brought it up.
I ran into
He sees me and stops and points a finger. I know what he's going to say. I beat him to it.
I've been trying to get Kooch into the Hall of Fame for the last 10 years or so. Speeches, charts, anything I could do. Nothing worked for the great left guard on Shula's unbeaten team. And now the Hall of Fame selection meeting was half an hour away.
I failed again. Kooch made it to the final 10 and then perished on the road to the remaining five. I had made a speech on his behalf. It met with the usual result. The day before, I had run into ex-Dolphins
"You know the biggest thing Kooch has going against him?" Little said.
"Yeah," I said. "You."
"That's right, me." First
"It's killing me that I'm keeping Kooch out of there," Little said.
Aside from that, I wasn't too unhappy about the outcome of Saturday's balloting. As an old AFC man, I liked the fact that
As an old Niner fan who rejoiced in their first Super Bowl triumph, I was excited that Dean made it. Screwed royally, financially, by the Chargers, he found a home in San Francisco, where
"I've watched him carefully in games," the coach once told me. "All of a sudden it dawned on me what he was doing. 'He's playing cat and mouse.' Setting his guy up for the one big play. And then when he had him just right, whom! Here come the jets."
My theory was that it was enough already. How many times could we carry on the same debate? How many times could we keep turning him down? I had broken. "Let's just put him in so we can get him out of the room and end the debate," was my brief speech, which you may think was the epitome of off-handedness, but maybe it helped swing the election.
It is now late in the pregame PM before Super Bowl XLII. The downtown area, where our hotel is located, is as dead as I've ever seen any fairly mainstream set of streets on the eve of the Super Bowl. All the action is in Scottsdale I am told, the endless round of parties. For $1500 to $2500 you can look through the glass outside the VIP room in
For $350 you can stake out a patch of parking lot at the Fairgrounds, 10 miles away from the stadium, and have a tailgate party and then watch the game on TV in your RV. It's called Super Gate '08.
Anyone with a name you've remotely heard of in the last 50 years has been signed, tagged and rented, with a party affiliation attached. Some of then have been sublet.
Kindly tune in to someone else's web site to get up to date information. I am Joe Square, Dr. Nerd, when it comes to pre-game socializing. I am buggy about the game, itching to create new and better charts, strenuously trying to devoid myself of all extraneous baggage as I stand poised on the brink of this event. Adios and see you in 24 hours.