Forget football. Name dropping has been the best sport in the area for weeks. Top-of-the-food-chain pr firms from NYC, LA and Chicago have been inundating Dallas with heart-stopping names as part of the Super Bowl XLV festivities. Hey, wake up, big time pr types. We read the Enquirer and watch Extra!, too. Ain’t no Beverly Hillbillies living in this ZIP code. As the clock ticked away, it became obvious to oldtimers that some dropped names were pretty real and impressive and others were promoters’ pie-in-the-sky wish lists.
In covering celeb type events you came to the realization that —
- There are two ways to “encounter” the VIP’s: You can work the red carpet for brief one-on-ones with the celebs, or, if you’re lucky to be allowed in with the housebroken guests, you can chum around with them and pick up tidbits.
- There are as many breakfast encounters as there are homeless people in the Park Cities.
- Social media is the fax machine of 2011.
- The good local pr peeps can hold their own any minute of the day with the coasties types.
- A lot of locals took their “events” way too seriously, actually believing that this event would trump the second coming of Tom Landry.
With all of this in mind, here is the first installment of the Super Bowl Week roundup celebrity coverage. It shows how the media isn’t all that exciting when put together with no news to cover.
8:00 p.m. — Media Party at House of Blues
With the first brush of frigid air hitting the Dallas area and with more on the horizon, the media gathered at Cowboys Stadium to interview the Packers and the Steelers. After a long day at the office, the media needed to unwind and the North Texas Super Bowl Committee was all ready to help them through the night. The spot to unwind was the House of Blues wedged between the West End and Victory. Say, isn’t that the 7/11 of entertainment venues? But we digress.
To accommodate the barely-on-an-expense-account media, organizers swore they had “given out valet passes for the House of Blues. Sometime we move so fast on these things.” Alas, those media that didn’t get the “valet passes” did get hit with a $30 parking charge.
North Texas Super Bowl spin meisters didn’t stop here. They said that despite the freezing weather and professionals’ “Big Chill” predictions, “We’ll be all right; it’ll be 60 degrees by game day.” Oops! (Actual Sunday temperatures hit a whopping 53 degrees.) Sounded a little like the folks who swore that the Titanic was unsinkable.
Charlotte Anderson, there with Mama Gene Jones, said: “I can’t believe it’s here, after five years!” She hugged and chatted with JB Hayes, who just got back from Davos, Switzerland and was looking forward to being at the big host committee party at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth later in the week.
Once inside it was a pack of media types, and there is nothing more interesting than watching members of the media partying. There was the younger generation with fingers and thumbs texting about who was there and what they were drinking. There was the older generation with spit in their jaws ready to spittoon the first younger generation that asked them about the good old days. While journalist Olympians Pat Summerall and other Blackie Sherrod award honorees were upstairs having a private dinner, the action in the main rooms included:
- Writer Art Stricklin mentioned a “book” that’s being done on the Super Bowl by the local host committee. It will be the first such project for a Super Bowl. (Editor’s note: After reviewing the actual Super Bowl Week, they might want to rethink that one.)
- Dallas Morning News‘ Mark Edgar raved about the Franklin Barbecue downstairs: “It’s the best!” Then he rushed back to the office.
- Roger Staubach was interviewed by The Ticket. Rog said this year we have two really great teams playing, and two great quarterbacks who don’t quit. He felt like this was going to be one of the best Super Bowls ever to watch, and “that’s what you want.”
- FOX 4’s Ron Jackson was sucking a beer after a long day; “We had to do a lot of cut-ins today,” he said. Goes out on a limb and predicted upper 40s for Saturday and low to mid 50s for Sunday. Then another wave of cold weather Monday.
- Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert welcomed the crowd with a spinning quip about the weather. Maybe it’s cold outside, he says, but no warmer hospitality exists than you’ll find in Dallas.
Then a video about Blackie’s nearly 60-year career was played. For oldtimers, it’s poignant. For youngsters, it’s hopefully inspiring. The video called him the best sports columnist in the history of Texas newspapers. That may well be true, but Blackie would have shuddered and headed to the parking lot.
Remember, Blackie, Dan Jenkins and other “oldtimers” were covering sports when a manual typewriter was considered state-of-the-art technology, the bottom drawer usually had a bottle of Jack Daniels and cigarette smoke filled newsrooms. They were the pioneers of Texas sports reporting and as tough as the players on the field.
Blackie’s wife, Joyce, said he couldn’t be part of the evening’s festivities because he’s in his 92nd year and he’s recovering from all those years of fun he had sportswriting. Blackie’s friends gave each other the eye. They know that Blackie was never a hoot and holler, hurray kind of guy.
Next on the program was Dan Jenkins’ daughter Sally (a writer for Washington Post) to introduce her dad. She said her dad taught her to open a pack of Winstons, to drink three martinis and to “never let a thing go until it’s absolutely as good as you can make it.”
Dan came out and said he was happy “to be presented an award for living too long.” He also welcomed all the media to Texas. Later when he was asked about the cold weather affecting the Super Bowl, Dan chuckled, “I live in Fort Worth. This is fun! I also lived in New York for 30 years. This is nothing!”
Honoree Frank Luksa was introduced by Fort Worth-Star Telegram sports columnist Randy Galloway, who said Luksa was “a hero of mine” and a gentleman. Frank then said the award meant a great deal to him. He spoke about Blackie as a great writer who always found the perfect words.
The final honoree was introduced by Roger Staubach, who in turn had to be introduced by Daryl “Moose” Johnston. Moose introduced Rog as “God Junior.” Before tacking his official duties, Staubach said that Bill Lively had been the “hero of the North Texas Super Bowl Committee.” Then he went on to claim that the wintry weather had been ordered by the host committee to make Pittsburgh and Green Bay teams feel at home. Getting downright religious, Roger claimed to have talked to Tom Landry and (Roger’s) mother in heaven to make it happen. But on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, he added, the committee will deliver the weather that the fans and the media would want. Then he introduced NFL vet Pat Summerall, whose six-decade career had included broadcasting 16 Super Bowls.
Pat recalled covering his first Super Bowl as a sideline reporter. When he was ordered to ask Green Bay Coach Vince Lombardi if he would mind kicking off–again–to start the second half, Summerall refused and feared that would be his last Super Bowl.
Then the hundreds of media settled back to music and “refreshments” on the ground floor, as Jerry Jones, Rich Dalrymple and Stephen Jones leaned over one rail against the wall, peering down at the action from the second level. Two Dallas cops and two women guarded the roped-off entrance to where they were. Occasionally Jerry would crook his finger to them, meaning to allow people–a middle-aged couple, two 20something girls–to enter the holy area and visit, or have their photo taken with Jerry.