EDITOR’S NOTE: Collegian reporter Reed Saunders is at Super Bowl XXXVII. This is the first in a series of special Web-only diaries from San Diego.
Before the diary entry gets going here, a quick explanation of why this whole
thing was so late getting up:
1. My computer from the Collegian, which had worked on every other
occasion I’d tried to use it, including a trip earlier this year to San Diego,
wouldn’t connect to the internet. I tried everything. Different telephone
connections, different phone cords, different access codes. I’m not exactly
MacGyver, but usually I can figure things like this out. No such luck.
All the lines were working, it was just like the computer wasn’t
catching on and dialing. Ugh.
After calling the guest services and chatting with Charo for about 10
minutes who talked me through turning my computer on and off and using the
mouse and plugging phone cords into the wall like I was Dan Quayle, she
finally mentioned the hotel had a business center that had internet
connections I could use.
Great! I said.
…But it closed five minutes ago, Chiquita Gonzalez replied.
Great! I said.
So, here it is… my apologies for the lateness. Saturday’s entry is
already up, and I’ll have another article up tomorrow. Thanks for reading!
Hope you enjoy it!
Jan. 24, 2002
I have arrived. Sunny San Diego is abuzz with the fever… Super Bowl
fever, that is. It’s crazy and I can’t even begin to tell you just what it’s
like to be here. Well… nah, yeah I can.
First off, seems appropriate to answer the big question: How the hell
did I get here?
Wish I could say Super Bowl airfare and tickets were within the
Collegian budget, but who would I be kidding? We’re like those Office Depot
commercials, writing on our arms cause we cut paper out of the budget.
No, I am here thanks to beer sales and big beer money. The fine folks at Coors
Light (namely my dad) offered to pay my way and hook me up with a ticket and a
few parties along the way, proving once again, it isn’t what you know, but
most definitely WHO you know. It’s good to be the official beer sponsor of the
NFL… or better yet, related to someone within the sports marketing department
of said beer.
The biggest thing I’ve learned this week leading up to the Super Bowl?
Telling people you’re going to the Super Bowl is a surefire way to get people
to hate you. You’d think I was throwing up on people, not telling them of my
vacation. Almost every response: “I hate you.” Well, my “friends” be damned…
I’m there, baby.
So, now that you understand how I got here, let me tell about HOW I got here.
I’ve always been fascinated with airports. Maybe it’s the people-watching,
maybe it’s the fact I am absolutely in awe of how someone figured out how to
get a huge hunk of metal in the air. Though it wasn’t the bulk of the trip, or
the bulk of what you’re surely interested in, a few observations I jotted down
while drifting around and within DIA:
What’s the deal with tips? Who am I supposed to give money to? Everyone? How
much? First it’s the guy who picks you up from the parking, then the guy who
takes your bags, then the lady trying to sell you Bose speakers… well, ok, not
that one. But by the time I’m to the gate, I’ve dropped close to $10. There
should be written mandates for things like this.
I’d like to thank that shoe-bomber guy (whose last name was Reid, ironically
enough) for planting the seed in authorities that my Skechers might somehow be
an instrument of terror. Really a great experience getting hand-wanded and
having them take the gum out of your pocket because “that might get picked up
I met this girl Amy in the security line. Had a few laughs, took off our shoes
at the same time. Learned she’s going to Bolivia for a year and there seemed
to be a good conversation brewing… until Concourse B came up and I had to
leave while she continued on to C. I’ll probably never see her again. This is
what’s so fascinating about airports: people coming together from places
you’ve never heard of, only to hop aboard a jet plane and go somewhere else.
We’re all like seeds off a dandelion sometimes… but I digress.
How about those mean people they got for the voices on the DIA concourse
trains? “Get your ass away from that door. You are delaying this train, you
Went into this experience wondering, just how DO planes back up? Is there a
reverse gear? Last I checked, I didn’t see any rear-view mirrors. Only when I
saw the plane NEXT to me backing up did I realize the truth: a small airport
truck thing actually pushes it backwards from the front and then unhitches
itself and goes on its way. This is why I’m out here, people… to learn.
There’s a reason so many movies feature airports in prominent scenes. Some of
my all-time underrated airport movies: A Fish Called Wanda (“K-K-K Ken is c-c-
c coming to k-k-k kill me!”), Airplane (“…and don’t call me Shirley.”), Tommy Boy (“I have a flight coming back from Chicago… does that help?”), Top Gun
(not usually considered in top airport movies), and Meet the Parents
(“Otherwise… step off, bitch.”).
Before the plane takes off, one of the male stewards talks to the row behind
me and says quote, “Now, if there’s an emergency, since you guys are nearest
the exit… if you happen to be by the beverage cart, grab the liquor and go!
Don’t leave the liquor behind!” Thanks you for flying soberboy airways.
The most intriguing subplot of my flight was the empty seat next to me. I had
the window and this other guy had the aisle and after the aforementioned,
liquor-obsessed flight attendant broadcast that this was a “full flight,” we
thought for sure each boarding passenger would plug the gap between us. But
person after person kept passing. Hope was rising.
We looked at each other smiling… “nah,” we kept saying. But with each passing
person, we both began to think just how nice it would be to have that middle
As loud as we might have been thinking, neither of us was saying a word. We
didn’t want to jinx it. It was like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter… no one was
saying a word, inning after inning. As the last folks filed up to first class
and we saw the runway pull away from the plane, we shared a smiling glance. It
was the last contact we had, but it was quite fun, let me tell ya.
Anyways, nearly two hours later, our plane set down at San Diego International
Airport. If you’ve never descended into San Diego, it’s a combination of
thrill ride and horror flick. Between the hills to the south and the downtown
skyscrapers to the west, the plane sort of weaves in and out and feels like
you could crash into any of them in a blink.
Luckily, we set down without problem and it was on to the baggage claim.
It wasn’t long before you could tell we were in Super Bowl town and, more
noticeably, part of the Raider nation. Every other person, including several
on the plane, was decked out in silver and black jerseys, hats, feed bags… you
>name it. Easy to say the Bucs fans are outnumbered at this point.
Our baggage carousel is sandwiched between planes landing from Oakland and San
Francisco. Guess who they’re rooting for. Once the bags come down, it’s a
feeding frenzy — like standing in the middle of 800 fat kids when the buffet
opens. I’m already scared of Raider fans. Thank God the bags finally came. For
a while there it was three carousels, two planes a piece… and zero bags. How
does that happen. Kevin Sorbo doesn’t have to put up with that kind of @#$%.
You can tell it’s the Super Bowl because of all the damned groups meeting at
the airport. There’s the Infinity group, the Gatorade group, the Viacom group,
the Ford Group and the Visa group, just to name a few. There seems to be a lot
of lonely limo drivers too, holding signs and hoping, hoping for companionship
with those sad looks on their faces. Phillips…. Phillips?… Anyone?
So it’s off to the hotel, in this case, the lovely Marriott Marina… “Right
neeah tha beeech!”
I’m not real used to cab rides and this was in fact my first one alone… well,
guess I wasn’t technically alone. I had Boris the cabbie to keep me company.
Even though the sign on the window guaranteed an “English-speaking” driver,
Boris seemed to know only three words: “Unh,” “Ugh,” and… well, so there were
only two words… but he did have a mean horn slap followed by the two hand
“Whatsamattawitchu!” kinda look.
Boris was not moaning in pleasure, don’t get me wrong. The Unh and Ughs had
more of a Bulgarian Mafia ring to them. I was afraid.
Walking into the hotel, it’s apparent that EVERYONE is in San Diego for the
Super Bowl. I’m making my way through the biggest sea of khaki and cell phones
you’ve seen this side of Clark building. The people organizing the Coors Light
VIP party in the back are constantly on the phone and I don’t admire their
task. They’re looking for tickets, looking for party passes, looking for
people who should be there, and on and on it goes.
While my man Deacon is busy trying to find me a room (among other things), I
help myself to the grilled swordfish and, what else, Coors Light waiting in
the VIP room.
Shortly after, the police enter the party and are starting to ask people
questions like it’s something serious. Turns out, the police had been called
by the party planners because two Super Bowl tickets had been scammed out of
the party a few minutes earlier.
“We shouldn’t have been that stupid,” my new friend and party organizer Shiela
tells me. Those could have been MY tickets, I think to myself.
Right now, my mood isn’t quite what I thought it would be. More than
excitement, I’m a little nervous. I don’t actually have a room yet and I’m
waiting on several contacts to come through before I’m going to get an actual
ticket to the game. I’m confident things will work out, but for the time
being, I’m feeling out of place like that breakdown part in Lionel Richie’s
“Say You, Say Me.” (What were you thinking, Lionel?)
Just in time, Shiela says I can put my things in her room and hang there until
it’s party time later tonight. Thank goodness.
The view from the window of the 17th floor room is breathtaking. The sun is
actually just now setting and reflecting off the harbor waters, broken only by
passing luxury boats and the million ripples on the surface. Navy ships and
cruisers are around and you can see the harbor-side shops and villas buzzing
with tourists. Through it all, there is the 80 degrees. I’m starting to sweat
here in my jeans and will soon be resorting back to shorts.
It’s absolutely nuts here. Super Bowl merchandise stands here are like
fireworks stands in Wyoming — every corner has about three. People are
everywhere. The weather is 80 degrees. It’s definitely nice to be in what the
“Local 8” newscast just called “America’s finest city.”
Tonight is the first round of Super Bowl parties. I’ve been invited to the
Coors Light party at a bar downtown called Jimmy Love’s, featuring all you can
eat and drink from six until close. SIX until close!!! My liver’s already
starting to sweat. The more intriguing ticket is to Magic Johnson’s party,
“Magic’s Bowl.” Probably a bunch of B-list celebrities of the Arsenio
Hall/Patrick Swayze mold… and me, of course. If I’m gonna make it to this
party, I need to put on a sportcoat and get on a bus, both of which I luckily
have access to. Welp, back to back Full House just came on the WB… Magic’s not
But the most (repeat: MOST) intriguing ticket is the possibility of attending
the Maxim party, what is considered the hottest ticket in town. Rumor has it
the party itself cost $400,000 to put on. It’s Saturday night in an old
Wonderbread factory downtown (sounds luxurious, eh?). I’m not even going to
jinx it by talking about it, but my mind will sure be roaming… a lot like a
Well, the hip-hop music outside my 17th floor window is beckoning me. Always
was a slave to the rhythm. Maybe they’ll play some Lionel Ritchie. Tune in
tomorrow, when I’ll discuss the party, the streets of downtown San Diego and,
who knows, maybe a little of the game.