Jan 252003
Authors: Reed Saunders

Sunday morning. January 26, 2003.

Like Bryan Adams sang all those years ago, “Do I have to say the words?”

No, not Super Bowl. Hangover!

Yes, it was another hot night on the town on Super Bowl Saturday night, much better than the previous night where I was about the only person under 30 in the room.

Two party invitations found their way to my hands: The NFL Saturday Night Party at the San Diego convention center, as well as a second Coors private party at Moose McGillicuddy’s.

I won’t go into quite the detail of Friday night, but there were a couple interesting subplots running at each location.

First, the NFL Saturday Night Party, which honestly neither I nor my party buddy Ernie were expecting much of. It’s the NFL party, it’s in a convention center, there’s going to be a lot of suits – how good could it be?

The appropriate questions would be, how wrong could I be?

The party was really too impressive.

The convention center had different areas of the world in various corners, complete with cuisine and drink menus – all complimentary, of course. Visit Japan, you

could get frosting-dipped fortune cookies, spring rolls, and sushi, all while enjoying a martial arts demonstrations. Mexico? Mariachis and margaritas. Activities and spectacle and booze. Kinda like the best adult version of an after-prom you can envision.

Best parts of it all, besides free cocktails: a 20-minute fireworks display co-choreographed by one of the guys who did the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

(Hong Kong!), and a headlining rock performance from – are you ready for this – Styx. (Styx!)

After the fireworks, people flocked inside and stood gleaming in front of the stage (a legitimate rock concert stage), half in amazement, half in the pure joy that comes from endulging in a guilty pleasure come to life. Really quite amazing. I couldn’t stop laughing, maybe because I was actually enjoying myself a little too much. Maybe because I was putting it all together in my head and it just didn’t quite add up.

Super Bowl. NFL. Styx. Laaaaay—daaay!

I think I lost it when guitarist and vocalist Tommy Sharp (I think?) said, “You guys ready for tomorrow?” (cheers, applause, whoops, hollers) “Well you’re in

Styx world tonight, baby!” (silence followed by assorted giggles) Nothing like falling ass-backwards into great column material.

For the forty-somethings these guys have become, they really rocked pretty hard… or as hard as you could get in the stiff atmosphere of all those drunken suits.

Bravo, boys. Bravo.

Stuck around for the Come Sail Away finale (really quite fun) and then bolted up 5th street to Moose’s and the Coors private party.

I was a little nervous about my “Return to the Moose.” See, back in November, when I made my trip out here to cover the CSU-SDSU football game, me and the CTV boys went downtown on Friday night and Moose’s was our main stop. It was there I had one of the more humiliating bar experiences of my brief-bar-hopping career:

I’m standing around, bobbing my head, trying to be cool, while a party is going on on the dance floor. I catch the eye of a young lady (laaaay-daaaaay!) dancing on this platform thing and she catches mine as well. Before long, she motions for me to “come join her” shall we say. “Who, me?” I playfully respond… ahh… bar lingo.

So we’re on the platform, we’re makin’ nice, dancin’ fine. Thank God for music videos, otherwise Reed would have no knowledge and no moves to imitate.

After a failed moonwalk attempt (kidding), the girl steps down off the platform, while I continue dancing with another lady (laaaay-daaaay! Really hope you know that Styx song, otherwise these must be confusing references). Well, Lady No. 1 comes back and gives me that, “oh, so you found someone ELSE to dance with, huh Craig?” sorta look. The storm was a-brewing.

A few minutes pass, I get down off the platform to use the facilities. I return, Lady No. 1 is back on the platform, workin’ it like she had been. I’m legitimately intrigued at this point, so I make my way back over to the platform. I’m standing on the main floor at the base of the platform, dancing and looking up at her. No such return glances from the lady. I decide to be the aggressor and get up on the platform (which, by the way, is basically the spectacle of this kinda small dance floor, in everyone’s plain view). I’m not on that platform for five seconds when lady looks at me disgusted:

“What are you doing?” She yells at me.

“What?” I reply coyly.

In front of the whole bar, she proceeds to put her hand in my face, like that “talk to the hand cause the face don’t understand” kinda thing, and tells me to get down.


Pretty much shut down. I left that night a broken, miserable, and very drunk man. Well, OK, I wasn’t really broken or miserable – what did she mean to me?

Not much – but the experience still stands as my worst shut-down ever and was the lasting impression of Moose’s in my mind.

So, we’re back to the present-day. I’m on the dance floor. There are attractive people on the dance floor.

There are girls (ladies, if you will), dancing on the platform. Just before I’m about ready to blackout from the flashback, the ladies come-a-calling – pulling me up on the platform.

So, before you could say “What the hell’s a McGillicuddy?” there I was, back on the dance platform, workin’ it good.

This time, no hand in the face, no “get down!” remarks, no problems. I made my own way down a few minutes and sweat beads later. Felt good to get that Moose’s vibe out. Much better to leave on a happy note and I don’t like having grudges against any place I’ve been. Kinda like when Steve Buscemi crosses Billy Madison’s name off his list of “People to Kill,” Moose’s has been resurrected in my mind. Bravo, Moose’s, bravo.

Following the resurrection, I set an open course for the (anything but) virgin sea known as the crazy ass streets of San Diego. Last night, the main area of downtown streets were entirely blocked off because there were (reportedly) some 100,000 people swarming the streets.

Raider fans are definitely the majority of folks here and I’m still on the fence with these people.

Half of me thinks they’re the greatest fans in the world, true diehards who love and support their team and definitely have had a renaissance of sorts since the team migrated back to Oakland from L.A.

The other half of me thinks they’re idiots who need to get a life. Seriously, these people are waaaay too into their team. I think some of them literally live and die with their team and, frankly, I was trying to think what would be worse for the city of San Diego after the Super Bowl: if the Raiders win? Or if the Raiders lose? Either way, I’d be bracing my riot gear because I think these people (and I hate referring to them as “these people,” but really what else can be said?) will get out of control in that “Mark Wahlberg

in ‘Fear’ kinda way.”

So, now that I’ve rambled on about drinking, partying, weridos and drinking for three days, maybe now’s the appropriate time to talk about the actual game.

Everyone’s been touting this as Raiders’ offense vs. Bucs’ defense, and I agree that’s essentially what it comes down to.

The way I see it is this: Great defense wins championships. Most of the time, great defense and overall gameplan can stymie great offense. I think of the St. Louis Rams and their “Greatest Show on Turf.”

Entering their two Super Bowls, their offense had been hailed as the best ever and “experts” said the game would soar in scoring. Unh uh.

Super Bowl XXXIV, the Rams squeak out a win over under-rated Tennessee and their scrappy defense, 23-16, and the Rams’ DEFENSE comes up huge with a

miraculous goal-line tackle by LB Mike Jones as time expires.

Super Bowl XXXVI, the Patriots don’t stand a chance!

Not against THESE Rams! Guess again. The offense for the Rams sputters, the scrappy Pats prevail on a last-second field goal.

crappy. That word seems to come up when you think of recent Super Bowl champions, doesn’t it? I heard a pretty amazing stat the other day: The past three Super Bowl champions (Pats, Ravens, Rams) have accounted for only FIVE total offensive touchdowns in their games. FIVE. In THREE games!

It isn’t offense that will win you a championship.

These are not the days of the dominant 49er teams with Joe Montana or Cowboys with Troy Aikman putting up 55 and 52 points in a Super Bowl. Defense is king. Defense kills.

When I think of which team is scrappier, and which team has the better defense, the edge has to go to Tampa Bay.

On the other hand, I don’t buy into the whole “Jon Gruden knows everything about the Raiders and that’s a HUGE advantage for Tampa! But the Raiders know

everything about Gruden too!” theory. Everybody knows everything about everybody.

Didn’t you see “The Net”? Information is EVERYWHERE.

Every game has been filmed from every angle, studied, game-planned against. The smartest minds in the game plan all week for their games, scouting, scheming, etc. It’s not about the systems, it’s about personnel and who executes better.

It’s hard to go against the veteran-laden Raiders – with first-timers, fifteen-year vets Tim Brown and league MVP Rich Gannon in the fold for their first Super Bowl – who will want this game as much as anyone.

But I’m going with the Bucs. I think they’ll be the less nervous team (really, the Raiders have more to lose), I think their defense will shine and, not unlike years past, I look for a special teams or defensive touchdown to bring it all together. In an upset, Bucs 20, Raiders 17.

Well, time to get ready for the tailgate party. Bus is leaving at 11, I’ve got a little over an hour to get ready. My goal is to not indulge so much in the free booze that I can’t take in the full splendor of the game. Kinda like what happened last year at the Super Bowl party I went to. I drank so much during the course of the game that, by the time the thrilling conclusion was upon me, I couldn’t really (a) take it in or (b) remember how the hell the Patriots had gotten there because I had, essentially, been too drunk and distracted to pay attention to the game in the second half.

Not sure that’ll happen tonight, though. I am AT the SUPER BOWL!!! I’vvvvve …. Got toooo be freeeeeee! Ahh… Styx.

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