I went to press
conferences. I went to a press conference announcing that Pat Summerall and
Terry Bradshaw had joined John Madden as part of the Fox Network's new football
broadcast team, everybody making a lot of money, everybody smiling broadly. It
all seemed quite important. Ed Goren, who was hired by Fox to produce, its
football telecasts, said he had "climbed Mount Everest, ridden in a hot-air
balloon and raced sled dogs to Nome, but no challenge in my life will ever
match the challenge beginning now."
A man in the
crowd, supposedly a reporter, asked Summerall if he planned to "make a new
commitment as far as children in the community are concerned." Summerall
didn't seem to understand the question. No one else did either. Bradshaw
finally said he thought the man was asking if Summerall was going to be "a
going to be a role model," Summerall said. "But I don't know what the
I went to a press
conference that featured Bart Starr, the former quarterback and coach of the
Green Bay Packers, talking about recycling. (Recycling is good.) I went to a
press conference to hear Howie Long, the Los Angeles Raiders' Pro Bowl
defensive end, announce his retirement. (Howie wants to spend more time with
his three boys and wants to leave the game without walking funny.) I went to a
press conference at which Stevie Wonder, the musician, talked about working
together to end poverty. (We can do it if we try.) I went to a press conference
where Joe Namath talked about the New York Jets' Super Bowl win 25 years ago.
(The Jets didn't like the Baltimore Colts and the Colts didn't like the
I went to a press
conference featuring the talent for this year's pregame and half-time
extravaganzas. Natalie Cole and Kris Kross sat at the same table with Tanya
Tucker, Clint Black and Travis Tritt. There was much mention of the
7,000-square-foot stage and the 1,650 volunteer performers and the 350
stagehands. It also was mentioned that Michael Jackson had been the performer
at halftime a year ago.
Jackson a tough act to follow?" a reporter asked Black.
these days," Black replied.
I spent some time
with a 29-year-old ticket scalper who was working the streets. He said this was
the toughest ticket he could remember, the price holding strong around an
inflated $1,000. He told tales of scalping everywhere, of briefcases with
$20,000 in cash brought through metal detectors, of payoffs made to "people
you wouldn't believe." He said he would scalp tickets to anything anywhere.
He was even scalping tickets to the NFL Experience, the fan-participation
exhibit at the Georgia World Congress Center near the stadium. He was hoping to
scalp the postgame NFL party by bribing a busboy to let people enter through
the kitchen. He said he had scalped hairdresser conventions, tractor pulls and
scalped the NCAA lacrosse championships at Brown University in Rhode
Island," he said. "That was my favorite. Syracuse against Johns
Hopkins. The ticket was $15, but they let kiddies in for $6. We went to the
window and said we were from the Cranston YMCA. We wanted two adult tickets and
90 kiddie tickets. We did that a lot--a lot of guys did. We stood at the back
of the line and sold the kiddie tickets for $10 apiece. Crazy stuff."