Super Bowl Party Roundup (cont.)
The Ritz Ybor
On The List: Terrell Owens, Pat Riley, Jerry Bruckheimer, Cal Ripken Jr., Wade Boggs, Brittany Snow, Stacy Keibler, Jeffery Wright, DJ AM, Joe Frazier, Chuck Zito, Terrell Davis, Barry Sanders, DJ Vice, Sean Kingston, Osi Umenyiora, MC Hammer, Doug Reinhardt, Cuba Gooding Jr., Joe Manganiello, Tiki Barber, Brian Baumgartner, Chris Kirkpatrick, Frankie Delgado, April Rose, Sandra "Pepa" Denton, Brian Vickers, Justin Tuck, Joumanna Kidd, Jason Witten, Vinny Pazienza, Kevin Sorbo, Willie Gault, Samantha Roemer, Tony Gonzalez, Ryan Howard
On The Scene: Playboy, which usually competes with Maxim for best Super Bowl party of the week ,said it canceled its party this year partly because it didn't "want to compromise the integrity or reputation of Playboy" by throwing a subpar shindig. Maxim should have done the same thing. Maxim's party was a shell of its previous over-the-top soirees where they would overtake a swanky hotel, give it a creative theme and stage a big live musical act. Held at The Ritz Ybor, an aging dancehall in the middle of Ybor City (think of a tamer version of Bourbon Street), Maxim's party was an eclectic mix of reality show personalities, retirees, has-beens and never-weres. DJ AM was the central focus of the event, positioned center stage and surrounded by the likes of Brody Jenner, Frankie Delgado, Doug Reinhardt, Cuba Gooding Jr. and an assortment of groupies and hangers-on that danced on stage like it was Spring Break in Daytona Beach. Watching from a VIP area on the dance floor were Pat Riley, Cal Ripken Jr., Kevin Sorbo, Wade Boggs and Chuck Zito. If that wasn't weird enough, Joe Simpson at one point was giving career advice to Jason Witten while Terrell Owens walked by them and onto the stage to hang with Gooding Jr.
On The Scale: 7/10
Maxim was really done in by the ridiculous precedent it had set in years past. It was the equivalent of Hugh Hefner selling the Playboy Mansion and throwing his next party in a town home. No matter how good it is, it'll never compare. Was it a good Friday night party at a club? Sure. Was it a good Maxim Super Bowl Party? Nope.
Marquis Jet Party
Tampa Bay Hangar
On The List: Evander Holyfield, Fred McGriff, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Alvarez, Steven Van Zandt, Randy Cross, Chris Berman
On The Scene: One of the biggest trends of Super Bowl party week is the Saturday afternoon party. It used to be the sole domain of Leigh Steinberg but Marquis Jet has come on strong in recent years, highlighted by last year's "chalk talk" given by Bill Belichick a little over 24 hours before his Patriots took the field for the Super Bowl. While this year's Caribbean-themed event didn't have any of the current coaches, ("We didn't want to jinx anyone," joked a spokesman) Jimmy Johnson and Barry Alvarez conducted a similar "chalk talk" moderated by Chris Berman. The best question from the crowd can from Steven Van Zandt, who asked Berman what song he wanted to hear from Bruce and The Band during the halftime of the Super Bowl, only a couple blocks away from the hangar. "It has to be Badlands," said Berman. "Arizona is in the Super Bowl, how can it not be Badlands?"
On The Scale: 7/10
The second most interesting thing I learned during the week (besides Subway Jared's pull at parties) is that Berman has been flying on private planes for the past five years. I can see Johnson ("I just get my tag number and I'm on board with Heineken Light") and Alvarez flying private planes, but for some reason it was odd hearing Berman gush about falling in love with the Marquis Jets after flying to Canton to cover the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Leigh Steinberg Party
Lawry Park Zoo
On The List: Franco Harris, Bruce Smith, Marcellus Wiley, Myron Rolle, Mark Rypien, Wade Phillips, Jerry Jones, Marv Levy, Big Tigger, Ryan Nece
On The Scene: There have only been two certainties about Super Bowl week for the past 23 years. The NFC champion will play the AFC champion on Sunday and Leigh Steinberg will host a party on Saturday. Steinberg's eco-friendly party at the zoo was not only a chance to feed giraffes and get close to elephants and zebras but it was a rare opportunity to be able to talk to the troops in Iraq as Steinberg had set up multiple videoconferencing devices where attendees could see and chat with them. Nearly everyone in attendance from athletes to writers in attendance took time to wish the troops well although it was certainly unusual to do it in the middle of a Super Bowl party with open bars, food stations and a silent auction serving as the backdrop. The occasion also served as the unofficial after party for Bruce Smith and the late Derrick Thomas, both Steinberg clients who were elected into Hall of Fame earlier in the day. While Smith said getting in was the culmination of an amazing week and an amazing career, Thomas' mother, Edith Morgan, hugged Steinberg and said, "Words can not describe how I'm feeling at this moment. I want to thank you for everything you've done and always being there."
On The Scale: 7/10
Steinberg may not be a "super agent" anymore but he still throws a super Saturday afternoon party. From yacht clubs to botanical gardens to zoos, he's found a way to keep his streak going even when it's come close being canceled before. If it made it through this year, chances are good it'll be around for awhile.
Saturday Night Spectacular
The T Pepin Hospitality Centre
On The List: Kevin Costner, Michael Strahan, Nicole Murphy, Nick Lachey, Jimmie Johnson, Chandra Johnson, Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips, Zachary Levi, Neil O'Donnell, Donald Sterling, Jared Fogel, Wade Boggs, Joshua Gomez, Jerry Cantrel, Matt Bryant
On The Scene: Costner and Strahan may have been co-hosting this interesting mix of athletes and celebrities but it was Costner who was given top billing with pictures of his movie career framed across the wall of the VIP area while Costner's band performed a 10-song set. While Costner's singing was reminiscent of a karaoke night gone bad, the atmosphere at the party was more like a business function than a party with most of the middle-aged attendees dressed in suits and gowns. The arrival of Jimmie Johnson and Nick Lachey towards the end of the party helped to lower the average age of the crowd a bit, but no one's arrival was going to help the fact that Clippers owner Donald Sterling decided to make a rare public appearance for this party and as we know anything Sterling touches is bound to fail. On the other end of the sports spectrum, if you're wondering why Jerry Jones was never going to fire Wade Phillips this offseason all you had to do was watch the two of them and their wives, Gene and Laurie, interact. They look like best friends shaking on the dance floor and chatting over drinks. The Joneses have never been closer with any other coach than they are with Phillips and his family. It's clear that even when the day comes that Jones must fire Phillips as the head coach, that Phillips will always have a place within the organization if he wants it.
On The Scale: 6/10
This was easily the most subdued Super Bowl Saturday night in terms of parties in the past decade mainly because Playboy, which normally owned Saturday night, and Victoria's Secret, which came close to stealing the mantel last year, were both canceled. No one, it seems, wanted the title this year. While the Spectacular was too stuffy, Pamela Anderson's Athletes and Angeles party at AJA was overcrowded as Anderson was briefly whisked around the club by a quartet of body guards, past Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice and Vernon Davis before leaving soon after.
"I guess even the biggest partiers need a break sometime," said one bartender as Anderson left the club. "She'll be back though, they always come back." Her fellow partiers can only hope that's true about the Super Bowl party scene in South Beach next year.