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It's More Than a Game
Leigh Montville
February 07, 1994
All the best performers, best quotes and best moves weren't found on the field or in the locker room at the Georgia Dome
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February 07, 1994

It's More Than A Game

All the best performers, best quotes and best moves weren't found on the field or in the locker room at the Georgia Dome

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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 ancestors.

"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.

"The other 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..."

"The other 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 $1,300?

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.

"How many 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."

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