In the most appropriate marketing marriage imaginable, every
person attending Super Bowl XXX on Sunday received a
complimentary pair of Breathe Right nasal strips, designed, says
the manufacturer, "to prevent or reduce snoring." The last cure
for snoring at the Super Bowl, Joe Namath, had not been
available for 27 years. But that was before the Super Bowl came
to Phoenix--the very name ends in Roman numerals--and once again
was treated with the dignity that such a spectacle deserves.
To be sure, the nasal strips were all that was free in Phoenix.
As Deion Sanders says, "If it don't make dollars, it don't make
sense." After all, what's more American than free enterprise? "On
Super Bowl Sunday," the Arizona Republic reported two days
before the game, "Ron Kaczenski of R.N. Davis Cannabis and Hemp
Co. will be selling 'SupherbBowl,' the unofficial marijuana of
Super Bowl XXX." The NFL must have been displeased by this
announcement, even though the Pittsburgh Steelers were openly
preparing nickel and dime packages during every practice.
Speaking of Steelers practices: Each one was covered by a pool
reporter assigned by the Professional Football Writers'
Association of America. Last Thursday's dispatch, posted for the
more than 3,000 correspondents representing 185 nations, was
typically incisive, eloquent, Hemingwayesque: "Linebacker Chad
Brown left practice twice, according to [coach Bill] Cowher,
because 'he had the runs.' ... The nearest rest room was some
200 yards away. 'Usually we have an outhouse near the practice
field,' Cowher said."
Which brings us to Fred Flores of Gilbert, Ariz. Last Friday he
won a pair of Super Bowl tickets from a Phoenix radio station.
He did so by diving headfirst into 2,000 pounds of cow manure.
On an analogous note, reporters that same day listened to NFL
commissioner Paul Tagliabue's State of the League Address, in
which he said things like, "Our coaches engage each week in what
can only be described as masterful chess matches of strategy."
One such grandmaster was the Dallas Cowboys' Barry Switzer, who
refused to let "periphial" matters distract him, who
acknowledged "disparagies" between the Steelers and Cowboys, but
who hoped to win the "Orange Bowl" nonetheless. Playing Spassky
to this Fischer was Cowher, who likes to "slobber and spit," in
the words of Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene.
It was Greene who made the most moving address in Phoenix.
Sprinkling his homily with the words dad-gum, numbnut and
belly-power, the longhaired Alabaman told sportswriters, "I
believe in America, the flag, freedom, and the fact that people
have had to die over the years so that we can do what we're
doing right now." Which was eating doughnuts and conducting
interviews of epic banality.
Many of these mots justes were translated into Chinese, Danish,
Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese,
Spanish, Swedish and Navajo, so that people in, say, Burkina
Faso might know that Sanders said, "I always give props to my
For some this grew wearisome as the week wore on. Wearing his
visor upside down so it looked like a papal miter, Steelers
halfback Bam Morris was asked by a Swedish reporter to "describe
your running game to the people of Scandinavia." Exhibiting few
symptoms of the Stockholm syndrome, in which hostages grow to
love their captors, Bam confessed, "I'll be happy when I'm
finished with y'all."
Not so for Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, whose
press-conference paean to teammate Emmitt Smith earlier in the
week fairly demanded to be set off in verse:
This man would stand
Right here in my face
And say, "You know I love you."
How strong our love is.
Our love overrides everything.
It overrides that inferiority complex
That men have when they say,
"I love you."
Which leads us to the party that kicked off Super Bowl week.
There, in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency, the actor who says
"I love you, man" in those Bud Light commercials led the crowd
in chanting that catchphrase. It was unspeakably poignant.
Meanwhile, a sluggish and sloe-eyed Budweiser Clydesdale--"That
horse looks drugged," insisted a professional wrangler who was
present--stood by blinking dolefully as camera strobes exploded
in front of its face.
For once, though, the party that ended Super Bowl week was still
more memorable. It took place outside the victorious Cowboys
locker room, where Irvin made yet another address. "In the last
fo' years--I didn't say four years, I said fo' years; I'm layin'
some brother on y'all--in the last fo' years, we done won trey
rangs," he said.
A man sighed, no doubt having to translate this into Navajo.
"Trey rangs," Irvin said helpfully. "That's 'three rings.'"
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: EVANGELOS VIGLIS [Drawing of Dallas Cowboy football player wearing three rings]