Watching the festivities surrounding Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix this week reminds me of my trips to the Super Bowl. I have always been a big fan of “Super Sunday” and I have had the fortune of going to the NFL”s title game – and the circus that surrounds it – twice. Contrary to public opinion, the local Pittsburgh TV stations do not go to the big game every year. It’s expensive and – as we have seen during the week – there is little local interest until Super Sunday.
That being said, I have been twice and both times the Steelers have played in the contest. However, the two experiences were vastly different. Figure this out: I was at the only Super Bowl the Steelers lost – and had a great time. Then, I attended the Super Bowl that gave them the “One for the Thumb” and had a miserable time. However, I judge the Super Bowl experience not by the game but rather by the entire week. In the end, the game is really an afterthought.
At Tempe, Arizona the morning of Super Bowl XXX ( January 1996 )
Super Bowl XXX was in Phoenix in January of 1996. It was the finale of my first season covering the Steelers. I remember it was the first time the game was played in the desert and that experience of playing the game in a new location only added to the excitement. The weather was great and I got a chance to visit places like an Indian reservation and party at Merril Hoge’s pad in Scottsdale. I remember I was mobbed for autographs outside the media center because everyone thought I was an NFL player ( again, it was 1995 and I was 26 ).
The game will standout in my mind for two reasons. One, it seemed like a Steeler home game with nothing but terrible towels waiving in the stands – stands that started shaking when the Steelers made their comeback. Stands that shook so hard that Sally Wiggin, seated next to me, started grabbing my arm and squeezing real hard. The other memory? The Steelers really should have won the game. But after it was all said and done, I turned to Sally and said “Don’t worry. We’ll be back.”
Little did I realize that a decade would pass before Pittsburgh would reach the Super Bowl .. and when they did, it was in Detroit. No offense to Jerome Bettis, but Detroit might be the worse place to hold any winter event much less the Super Bowl. Wait. Check that. Siberia would be worse. It was cold and there was very little going on around the city. Heck, we were in Pontiac most of the week with the team at their hotel. Pontiac has a hotel, a car making plant and a store that sells soup … and that’s it. Quite a change from the desert paradise of a decade earlier.
The Steelers did win .. although the game wasn’t much to write home about. After all, Pittsburgh essentially made three plays to win it. But what stands out in my mind about that Super Bowl wasn’t the game, but rather the return to Pittsburgh and the massive victory parade.
As for this year’s game between the Patriots and the Giants? Who do I like? You will have to wait until tomorrow morning when the entire Channel 4 Action News This Morning makes their fearless predictions.