Jan. 31, 2004
The Saturday before a Super Bowl is a neutral zone. There's no media access and all that's left to do is pack up because there won't be any time after the game. Besides, our work area is part of the room that will be converted to the post-game party so we had no choice.
That didn't mean the Patriots staff workers weren't busy. In fact, the push was on to get all the guests and sponsors their Super Bowl swag, line up the flights for Monday and make sure everybody's name was on the manifests. It was a tremendous effort that took a lot of coordination, communication and most of all, patience.
Then there was the lobby of the team hotel. It looked like how Hollywood usually depicts those marketplaces in the times of the Roman Empire. You know, where people are selling everything from live chickens to Christian slaves in a cacophony of sound.
The difference was the only thing being sold besides drinks at the bar, were Super Bowl tickets. Actually, it was more like people looking to buy tickets. By around 6pm, the team was leaving for their undisclosed location at the same time ticket seekers were beginning to get frantic. It was quite the scene. I saw some pretty seedy characters being chased out by hotel security.
After going out to dinner, I was totally exhausted from the week. Knowing Sunday was going to be a long day and sleepless night, I packed it in early.
Friday night I lucked into tickets to the Commissioner's Party. In the past couple years I hear they scaled back on what was spent for this event but from the looks of this year's, the extravagance is back.
It was held at the old Houston Astrodome but it was amazing how once inside, you had no idea you were in a 39-year old, outdated stadium. The front half of the stadium was decorated like a '60s psychedelic nightclub complete with go-go girls and beatniks.
White fabric tunnels divided the inside into two parts and led to a 1930s swing nightclub with stage show. In that room was a fenced off area that separated us unwashed masses from the real VIPs like Robert Kraft and Jerry Richardson, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Emmitt Smith and of course, Commissioner Tagliabue. The booze and food was on the house and there was plenty of it. They had everything from salmon to Texas barbeque and it was delicious.