Hello Friends and Family,

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Super Bowl Mania

Super Bowl LXII This last week the Phoenix area has been dominated by Super Bowl festivities — and it has been absolutely crazy. There were parties everywhere — some required you be on the A-list and others simply required money — in some cases, lots of money. Celebrity sighting were reported daily in the newspapers. And I have never seen so many stretch limos in one place in my life!

And, of course, every year this week The Phoenix Open (AKA The FBR Open) is held. As I mentioned before, this is the only PGA tournament that draws sufficient spectators to be successful during Super Bowl week. And, as always, I attended the tournament on Saturday — the weather was superb and the crowds here for the Super Bowl showed up for golf as well. I have never seen TPC Scottsdale with so many people. Last year on Saturday there were some 165,000 people — this year the official count was 170,802!!! I would have guessed 200,000 — there were people everywhere.

And this year, the sponsors (Thunderbirds) instituted a stricter alcohol policy. You had to have an ID band in order to purchase alcohol. The ID band required a proper photo ID. And each customer could only purchase two beverages at a time. Of course, I seemed to see a lot of people walking around with two cups of beer — and it did not appear that they were carrying one back to a friend, since they were drinking out of both cups. On second thought maybe the second one was for a friend who was buying for both of them.

Westgate Fountains Since I was not on the A-list and could not afford game tickets (scalpers were getting $4,500 per ticket), I decided to visit the NFL Experience. This is a temporary football theme park that is set up in the Super Bowl host city. It is mostly for kids but I decided to go see what it was all about and maybe get a few good photos.

Well, my first mistake was not reading the fine print. On the weekends, the gates were opening at 10:00 AM. On weekdays at 3:00 PM. I showed up at 11:00 AM on Thursday. So with four hours to kill, I decided to check out all the development that has taken place next to the new stadium. Next door is Westgate, a mixed-use development with restaurants and shops on the lower floors and condos above. This style of shopping center is becoming quite popular in the Phoenix metro area — offering people the opportunity to live in the same area where they shop and dine. Some of the centers even resemble a old style small town square.

Jerome BettisI guess it was serendipity but there an event going on at Westgate. Promise Margarine was sponsoring a buffet luncheon hosted by (keeping with the football theme) Jerome Bettis — former running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, also known as "The Bus". It looks like "The Bus" is getting plenty of fuel.

Buffet And would you believe that the buffet was free? There must have been 200 or so items in the buffet — salads, entries, desserts, fruit. All brought to you by Promise Margarine. The food was actually quite good — and you couldn't beat the price.

Hairy Giant After killing four hours, I was finally able to enter into the NFL Experience — along with a million other people — or so it seemed. And as advertised, it was rather targeted at kids. Here they (or their older siblings) could be photographed with their head showing atop an NFL player body. I called this one "The Hairy Giant".

Kid Blocker There were a lot of activities for the kids to try. Here is blocking practice.

Kid Punter And punting. It is called football, n'est-pas?

Potential future NFL stars at the quarterback position, perhaps?

Kid QB 1 Kid QB 2

Kid QB 3 In all shapes and sizes.

Making FootballsThere were a few items of more interest to adults. Wilson, who makes the footballs for the NFL, was demonstrating the manufacturing of the official football. Interestingly, they actually were making the real thing — and selling them for typically outrageous prices (I recall something like $160).

Hall of Fame Helmet There was also an exhibit provided by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here is an old football helmet. Also on exhibit were jerseys from players in the Hall of Fame, plus posters and other memorabilia.

Phil Simms One of the more interesting events was Q&A with Phil Simms, former quarterback for the New York Giants and now a broadcast analyst. It is odd how one gets impressions of people, particularly people in the public eye, based on almost nothing of substance. Historically, I was not really very impressed with Simms, either as a quarterback or as an analyst. But in person, he really came off a lot better.

For instance, I asked him why it is that Tom Brady (quarterback for the New England Patriots) was not highly ranked coming out of college and yet he has developed into one of the best quarterbacks to ever play pro football. Phil replied, "Coaches are stupid." He elaborated that coaches, like all of us, tend to start thinking in illogical ways. The Michigan coaches had a "hot prospect" for the quarterback position and could not wait to get him into the starting position — and thus they downgraded Brady because they had mentally invested in this "hot prospect". When the Patriots drafted Brady, the New England coaches thought he was just a big skinny kid — and as their fourth quarterback, probably not likely to stick around. However, head coach Belichick saw something in Brady and worked on him to built him up physically and teach him how to be a quarterback — and the rest was Brady's hard work to be ready when the opportunity came.

Someone else asked about who he was picking in the Super Bowl. He said that he had friends on both teams and could not really pick between them. As a follow-up, the person asked if the Giants had a chance against the Patriots. Phil said that he thought they did. He particularly liked the size of the Giants' offensive and defensive lines. He elaborated, that you will notice as the season goes on, the teams with size tend to win against teams that are smaller. One factor is that big guys do not get smaller as the season goes on. With respect to teams built on speed — they do not get faster as the season progresses. If anything they slow down.

There were many other interesting answers. Mr. Simms, you have my respect (as if he cared).

Ferris Wheel Ah, a lovely NFL experience. I have to admit I enjoyed it more than I expected. If you are fortunate enough to live in a city hosting a future Super Bowl, you might want to check it out yourself. Especially if have some children or grandchildren that you can take (as an excuse).

Oh, in case you live in or are traveling in a foreign country, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl. And J.B. Holmes won The Phoenix Open.

 Life is good.

 B. David