Super week in Atlanta
The Fiend reflects on Super Bowl week in his hometown
Posted: Sunday January 30, 2000 05:03 PM
The Fiend suffered through bad weather and boring parties, but he wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Ron Rodriguez/CNNSI.com
Traffic getting into work today wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, with the Georgia Dome all of 300 yards to the West of our location at CNN Center. Of course, I came into work more than five hours before kickoff to make sure that I didn't get stuck in the REALLY bad traffic closer to game time.
Super Bowl price-gouging is in full effect on the streets of Atlanta, with parking lots charing up to ten times their normal prices. Lots as far as a mile away are charging $20, while the lots closer to the Dome are getting people for up to $50.
CNN Center is bustling with fans of both teams, some of whom have tickets and will be wandering over the Dome shortly, others who will stay in the lobby here at CNN Center to enjoy the game on the big-screen televisions in the atrium. The atmosphere is similar to that of the SEC Championship Game which is held next door at the Georgia Dome each December, with fans of each team spontaneously beginning cheers for their team at any time. As many as 5,000 people may pack into the lobby to watch the game, and the din of the crowd will be painfully audible to us here at CNNSI.com on the 10th Floor of the CNN Center.
Where are all the players?
The Fiend headed over the 989 Players Party at the Atlanta Merchandise Mart with the Fanatic and the Party Crasher, and we were amazed at how few players were actually there, and how poorly organized the whole thing was. Maybe I'm being a bit too nice, actually, because the party really sucked. 49ers running back Garrison Hearst was the biggest name spotted on the evening, with Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison coming in a close second. After that, it dropped off to the level of the likes of Shawn Wooden of the Dolphins and Esera Tuaolo of the Panthers. Yuck!
The special entertainer of the night was former "Cosby Show" child star Raven Symone, who is now a 14-year-old rapper. The Fiend is a pretty big fan of rap music, but Raven's take on it thinned the crowd out pretty quickly, and left most of the crowd puzzled as to why such a cute little kid would try to reinvent herself as an edgy rap artist.
The players were kept separate from the fans, and did little mingling with them, kind of ruining the point of the advertised opportunity to party with the players. The highlight of the party was the free "NFL Gameday 2000" PlayStation machines that were set up downstairs just off the lobby. For the record, the Fanatic (playing as his hometown Cincinnati Bengals) down the Fiend's beloved Packers 7-3, with Jeff Blake throwing a last-second touchdown pass to Darnay Scott to pull out a win.
Buildup to the big day
The Fiend was rather excited four years ago when the 2000 Super Bowl was awarded to the city of Atlanta. Each day of the past four years, I have looked forward to this week, and with the exception of the unseasonably cold weather, I haven't been disappointed.
Super Bowl week has been a thrill for the Fiend, as I got to get out of the office to freeze my butt off waiting for autographs at Titans practice on Wendesday, and then got to take in the NFL Experience at the Georgia World Congress Center on Thursday. Titans practice was tolerable only because of my Edmund Hillary-like getup that I wore, but the NFL Experience was certainly the highlight of my week.
The games, exhibits, and just sheer number of children that were there enjoying themselves and perhaps getting their first taste of the wonderful game of football. If you ever get a chance to check out the NFL Experience in a future Super Bowl city, please do yourself a favor and check it out.
On to the oft-talked about weather in Dixie this week... sure, the weather may not have been what visitors from out of town would've wished for, but we here in Atlanta will have the last laugh when we are back on the golf courses by the middle of next week. I hope that the crummy dose of rain/sleet/snow/ice that hit the South this week doesn't cost Atlanta a shot at another Super Bowl down the road.
The party scene during the week in Buckhead was typical of Super Bowl week, though the chilly weather likely kept some people at home. The normally teaming streets of Buckhead were expected to be bursting at the seams all week, but there was plenty of room to be found in bars and restaurants all around town.
I hope that you all enjoy the game, and may your Super Bowl party be happy and filled with chips, dips, beer and brats. Here's hoping that the Packers are in Tampa a year from now in Super Bowl XXXV.
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