I went to the NFL
Experience and watched people stand in line forever to attempt field goals,
watched people purchase $25 T-shirts and $3,000 Peter Max football helmets. I
missed the Frank Sinatra concert and the Ray Charles concert and the Billy Joel
concert, but I did meet two men who had shaved their heads, painted them silver
and pasted blue stars on top.
I went to
demonstrations against the Georgia state flag and for the flag. The issue was
the half of the flag, added in 1956, that replicates the Confederate battle
flag. The demonstrators against the flag, mostly black, called it racist and
offensive. The demonstrators for the flag, a smaller group, all white and
mostly wearing motorcycle jackets, said it was a tribute to their Confederate
"That flag is
pathetic," Joe Beasley of the Rainbow Coalition said. "And more
pathetic than that is the 3,000 homeless people in Atlanta, mostly black,
ancestors of slaves, right here."
I walked with the
crowd past the demonstrations, through the security. I went to the game.
stuff is what you talk about when you go home from a Super Bowl," I say.
"The excess. The political debates. The passion and the nonsense. The money
being thrown into the air and just earned away on a beer-soaked cloud. The
celebrities. The buzz. The game is the same in all reports. Dallas again.
Everyone brings back his own story about..."
stuff," you say.
I watched part of
the game from a front-row seat on the 10-yard line. The ticket, $175 at face
value, had been purchased from a broker—supposedly for $1,300—by a large
corporation. The woman who was supposed to sit in the seat was late because she
was still at a party where she was talking to Dean Cain, the actor who plays
Superman on television. True fact.
I watched another
part of the game high in the stadium; better perspective, harder to feel the
emotion. A woman in back of me, seeing the players go into a huddle, asked if
someone was hurt. She also asked what those "things" were that the
officials used to measure for a first down. Had her ticket also cost
I watched the end
of the game on a TV in the media workroom. The game obviously was a
rout—reporters leaving early for the press conferences, pictures shown of
Cowboy coach Jimmy Johnson being drowned in Gatorade, congratulations all
around—but one piece of important business still had to be settled. I watched
with a betting man. The Bills were on a save-face drive, moving to the Dallas
22, fourth-and-17 with 10 seconds remaining. A Buffalo touchdown and conversion
would make the score 30-20. The spread was 10½.
millions of dollars are at stake here?" the betting man asked. "It
won't even be mentioned, but how many guys are flipping around their living
rooms at this very moment? This is the biggest play of the game."