Super Bowl week is a convention of Americana. It has transcended the narrow genre of football to become a gathering place for corporate, media, entertainment and political figures who will descend on Indianapolis this week.
The general rule is that if you have suspicions that a celebrity is in front of you then it is definitely that person. Major corporations rent out hotels for their executives and other employees. Massive amounts of commerce takes place. And then there are the parties. And oh, incidentally, an actual game of football will transpire, not that the majority of the couple hundred thousand fans that flock to the city will notice.
For 25 years I threw the largest daytime party at the Super Bowl. I would pick a venue that is evocative of the city and region itself.
In Los Angeles, there was the New York street from "Hello Dolly" on a back lot of 20th Century Fox — yes, Rupert Murdoch attended.
In Dallas last year, 5,000 gathered at Eddie Deen's Ranch with armadillo races and a bucking bull.
In San Diego, on three occasions, the famous zoo was the locale and Johnny Carson's animal expert walked a variety of animals through the party.
In New Orleans, we rented the amusement park Jazzland.
This year was set at the Indianapolis Speedway, but it will not occur due to the negative publicity that Orange County's most powerful business engineered.
The decorations, music, food all thematically have fit with the city. The expenses are covered by sponsors. The set of daytime parties in interactive locales contrasted nicely with the boozy, noisy overcrowded motifs that ranged from Playboy to Hawaiian Tropics to ESPN. Families were encouraged to bring their kids. We had caricaturists, magicians, dancers, animals and much to experience.
We invited whoever was popular in American culture. "Joe Millionaire" came once, as did Ruben Studdard, the American Idol winner.
'N Sync came when they were the country's hottest boy band and Outkast performed at their peak.
Jay Leno came and did silly sports interviews for his show. Oliver Stone brought the cast of "Any Given Sunday."
Rob Schneider came dressed as Richard Simmons for a Leno spoof. He was the bad Richard Simmons and ate ding dongs, smoked and ended up drunk laying in front of the bar. Simmons was guest that night on Leno and they showed him the tape.
Sixteen U.S. Senators came to one party and former Vice President Al Gore to another. There were congressmen, mayors and governors galore.
Cameron Crowe came to research "Jerry Maguire."
"Arliss," as well as "Sports Action Team" and other television shows filmed at the parties.
Live talk radio shows lined the site.
The parties were oriented for charity and acknowledgment of real-world problems. New York police, fire and emergency response personnel were invited after 9-11.
We shipped a water purification system to earthquake-impacted Haiti from the party in Miami. The gift saved 140,000 lives from the threat of cholera.
During the first Gulf War we had a live hook-up between the party and troops in the field. In Tampa, Gabby Giffords arranged for another live screen interaction between celebs and troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Guests could pick up phones and talk to wounded troops in 250 military hospitals.
There was also a car was auctioned for $85,000 to help fund Jenny McCarthy's autism research project.
In the last several years as rolling back climate change became a theme, guests were greeted by a green carpet and energy system labeling. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and I released an endangered hawk into the wild at the Scottsdale Botanical Gardens. We aided local food banks and the homeless.
So Super Bowl week has become the networking and partying center of the Western World. I would visit an encampment which is called "radio row," 150 talk-radio shows spread over a convention center. I would start doing shows at 9 in the morning and by 7 at night had surfed my way from Miami to Toronto to Seattle to Phoenix via talk radio.
The marketing and memorabilia alone are worth the trip. So even though we don't currently have a local NFL team, make sure to make the trek at least once in your lifetime.
Next week's game could be a great one. I look forward to analyzing the matchup.
Here's a hint. How does one of the league's worst pass defenses contend with Eli Manning and friends? And, how does the incomparable Tom Brady get time to throw with arguably the best defensive line in his face?
LEIGH STEINBERG is a renowned sports agent, author, advocate, speaker and humanitarian. His column appears weekly. Follow Leigh on Twitter @steinbergsports or blog.steinbergsports.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun