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Gone to Texas

Every Super Bowl is a reunion, especially for the media. Or maybe it's more like a trade show. Eating, drinking, more of both. In any case, this year more than 5,000 credentials have been issued to a raggedy assortment of media people from 26 countries, most of whom will be holed up at the 1,840-room Sheraton Dallas Hotel, where the over-under on the elevator wait will likely be Topic A by Friday. That's the night the NFL throws its massive party for owners, players, agents, partners, media and on down the food chain, adding up to 3,200 guests celebrating this year's Pride of Texas theme.

Themes are big, and there are lots of parties. Any anthropologist doing fieldwork in Dallas--Fort Worth next week would deduce that the Super Bowl has as much to do with beautiful women, fancy food and good drinks as it does with football—which is true. In fact, sometimes the party is the game. P. Diddy's Super Bowl Fantasy get-together, for example, promises shoulder-rubbing with "today's hottest celebrities, athletes and our bevy of beautiful Fantasy Hostesses," plus the chance to "savor the delicious displays of lavish-living beverage bars and food buffets." I am not mocking Diddy—SI is planning its party on Friday night with loud music, drinking and a number of swimsuit models. When it comes to the Super Bowl, we're all in it together, even if we go to different parties. An SI profile of then commissioner Paul Tagliabue in 2006 quoted his elegant wife, Chan, as saying, not without irony, that "we really don't go to football games, we go to cocktail parties at football games."

My favorite party is a small dinner, hosted by SI's director of photography, Steve Fine, the night before the game. It is the only time all of SI's photographers are in the same place at the same time. And what they always talk about is the game and how they will cover it, because for them that's the party.

Have a good game.