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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 did not talk to the man with the sign that read SIX MONTHS TO LIVE, NEED TWO TICKETS, LAST WISH. I thought...I don't know what I thought. I also did not talk to the man with the sign that read WILL WORK FOR TICKET. Not funny. I did talk to the man who was wearing a dress.

"I bought it at the Rescue Mission in Syracuse, N.Y.," the man said. "I went in there and told the lady I'd be trying on some dresses, if that was all right with her. She said it was fine. Do you know what I found? I had to go to the full-figure shop. I'm an 18½ in a woman's size."

That man's name was Tom Mueller, and he said he worked for a volunteer literacy program in Syracuse. His grand idea was a takeoff on the Wavy Lay's potato chip commercial, featuring Buffalo Bill defensive end Bruce Smith, which was created to dominate the airwaves during the NFL postseason. In the commercial, Smith forces actor John Ratzenberger, formerly of Cheers, to wear a dress. Mueller wore his dress, the $5.99 price tag still attached, and carried a sign that read BRUCE MADE ME WEAR THIS.

Mueller had hoped at first that someone from Frito-Lay would notice him and say something like, "Hey, great idea, why don't you be our guest at the game?" That had not worked. He had even called Frito-Lay headquarters, where he'd received encouragement, but no ticket. He still wore the dress, a simple blue shift with a white print, everywhere he went in Atlanta. He no longer thought that he was going to be given a ticket, but had found that a dress is a fine conversation starter when worn by a man.

"One woman, though, saw me two days in a row," Mueller said outside the Georgia Dome on Sunday as strangers stopped. to take his picture. "She told me that if I was going to be wearing a dress every day, I'd better buy more than one. She said if I wore the same dress two days in a row, people would talk, start calling me a slut or something. She probably had a point."

"So what did you think about the Super Bowl?" you ask. "Terrible about those sad Buffalo Bills, huh? Poor Thurman Thomas. Poor Buffalo. Do you think the Dallas Cowboys are a dynasty in the making? Do you think Emmitt Smith is the new Red Grange?"

"I wasn't there so much for football," I say. "I was there for the other stuff."

"The other stuff?" you ask.

I stood in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel, the media headquarters, and overheard a woman finish a sentence with the phrase "...and then he put an entire cigarette up his nose." I went to a party where a man asked what the white meat on his plate might be and was told it was giraffe. He said it tasted like pork. I walked the downtown streets of Atlanta, site of the 1996 Summer Olympics, and stood in lines and then more lines. The streets seemed ready to burst. The restaurants and taverns seemed ready to burst. The people, many of them, seemed ready to burst. I saw one burst directly into a bag of souvenirs he had purchased for the folks back home.

"The most important thing about the Super Bowl is that it gets the people of Atlanta thinking about the Olympic Games," Bob Brennan, press chief of the Atlanta Olympic committee, said. "Until now, the Olympics have been sort of a vague kind of thing. This is an idea of what the Olympics are going to be. There will be 17 days of this."

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