Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thank you, Gracias, Merci!

As you all know, going to Superbowl was the dream trip of my life. I religiously watch football, read about football, listen about football, watch the network dissect football every week for 17 weeks. Not including the combine, the draft, and pre-season (aka fantasy research season). You've seen my facebook "religion", something about there only being one holy day. It only makes sense that the Super Bowl would be mecca. And so I went to the Greatest Show on Turf. I'm actually still digesting it all, going through hundreds of pictures, telling stories, writing bits and pieces, handing out goodies to friends who went in spirit with me. There was such anticipation for a dream trip for me that it was amazing to me when I met people who'd been many times. It was the 16th Super Bowl trip for one gentleman I met from Southern California. His annual trip! Rich Eisen, during Sanders' 'Hold on Playa' segment on NFL Network, said "5:30am show call for a 5:30pm kickoff?? Hold On Playa!!". It reminded me that some people do this every year for 16 hours a day! (Sooooo jealous!) When I woke up Super Bowl morning in my Sheraton hotel room (with some heat finally), I thought, I actually get to watch a football game today. So much build up for a football game! There are so many people to thank for such an amazing experience.

El Alcalde - Un millón de gracias. Por todo. The opportunity of my lifetime can never be repaid, Rafito. Endeudados para siempre.

Jack aka Dallas - The Big Leagues stories might be my favourite thing about you. But who was it you pitched to again? Babe Ruth? ;)

Smitty - Host of the Year! A tiny bit of scary driving was worth the fantastic places you took us to. I have referred to my 'Smitty's Notes' in my Blackberry already. Keep the bar low buddy.

Jimmy - Chivalry is not dead when Jimmy is around. Compassion is your middle name. I knew how sweet you were when Jimmy told me the story of how he met you!

Elizabeth - You define Southern charm. With that accent of yours, you could read me the phonebook. And it was nice to have a feisty girl in the ranks along with me. I think you're the true boss in that crew.

Debra and Wheel - Thanks for watching my first live NBA game with me and sharing your margaritas. The couple who drinks tequila together, stays together!

El Presidente, Fernando Fiore - Here's to Platinum Level buffets!! It was nice to have a friendly face here and there all week in Dallas.

Savino - You scare the hell out of me! But you're amazing at what you owned that booth. Thank you for getting us where we needed to be and including me with the crew at SB. I promise to send you all the pics, I swear!

Matty - Thank you for calmly listening through my one feminism rant of the week. ;) How you managed to pull off being stat man at SB with the way your head was feeling was fantastic!

El Vikingo - Eduardo, thank you for everything, smoke breaks, and making sure I made it home to Canadaaaaa!!

Joe Uva, Cesar, and Beau - Thank you for the best tequila in the world. Wow!! And fantastic dinner conversation.

Marly - You're an inspiration!! I listened to every word you said on the charter to the stadium on Media Day. Thank you for showing me the ropes and introducing me to so many people.

Adrian Garcia and Dan - Thanks for also showing me around and including me on such a crazy day with over 5000 people! You did great Dan!

Perry's Chophouse - I'm from Alberta, I work in a traditional steakhouse, and THAT was one of the best steaks I have EVER eaten. And Australian cold water lobster. And thank you for wine from the locker, Don Julio Real, and meeting Matthew Morrison in the bathroom hallway! Most gracious and adorable celeb I've ever met.

Dallas Sheraton - Despite some pretty horrid circumstances, my stay was great. Thank you for putting me in the South Tower sans fire alarms and for ONE OF THE BEST BARTENDERS I've come across, Alisa, in the lobby bar. If that girl is considering another future career, I understand. But if she isn't, KEEP HER!!! Gorgeous, witty, and makes a mean gin martini. Tell her Miss Little from Canada says hello!!

Charlie Palmer's At the Joule - VIP treatment never gets old! Smitty was a gent taking us there. The food was UN-BE-LIEVABLE. Thank for everything and a tour of that gorgeous kitchen!!

Mr. Peter King - You have no bigger fan than me, north of the 49th. It was at the top of my list to meet you, listen to you talk about anything football, and finally get a copy of your book signed! Check, check, check. Thank you for being so accessible to your fans. I'm determined to have an Ottawa Tweet-up one day and have you watch hockey in hockey's home. MMQB 4eva!

The Common Table - Thank you for hosting PK's tweet-up and providing a heated tent outside with lots of room! And thanks for great service, Brooklyn Lager and my healthy pour of Patron. I'm not sure if 2+oz pours are in the Constitution, but God Bless America!

John Doolittle & KMG - Couldn't have met 2 nicer guys at the Tweet-up. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd actually finally meet a Doolittle. Thanks for sharing a chair and heater outside and taking me for more beer and pizza after. GENUINE.

Team 1200 TGOR - Thank you, thank you, thank you for including me in Ottawa's SB coverage on your show. What a great experience for me!! I hope it won't be the last time. You guys rock.

CBC Ottawa Morning - Leslie, your call in Dallas made me so happy! Thanks to you and Hallie for also including me on the much loved Canadian radio.

CBC Breakaway - Jackie, I'm sorry I didn't meet the Habs gents sooner!! Thank you for giving me an "assignment" and for your kind words. I'll be on the lookout for Quebecers everywhere now!

And finally....

NHL 88th season (2004) - LOCKOUT. Thank you for dumping me and setting me up with NFL. Meant to be. You'll always be my 1st love though. But GO FALCONS!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Only Thing Bigger Than Texas Is Canada

Before I left for Dallas, Texas to go to Super Bowl XLV, I thought, I hope I meet other Canadians there! I even twittered with all the appropriate hash tags to find people: Can't wait for #SBXLV! #Canada does #Dallas! Any #Canucks going to #SuperBowl? Holla #Canadians!!

Once I got there I met loads of people and always asked everyone where they were from. Nothing, no Canadians. I did feel fairly akin to all the Green Bay Packer fans who'd flown down. Living on a Great Lake in a freezing climate with a quirky accent is almost like being Canadian, isn't it? I finally resorted to asking the hotel bartender, Alisa (who was amazing by the way), if she'd met any Canadians. "Oh yes!! A few men just yesterday. Crazy bunch of guys!" I asked her, if she saw them again, to let them know I was around and she could call my room. Well, didn't I meet them the next day! I walked outside the hotel and saw three men in cowboy boots, jeans, suit jackets, and cowboy hats covered with Molson Canadian stickers. I overheard one say they were from Montreal so I politely interrupted and asked if I'd heard correctly. Yes! They were all there from Montreal. Francophones who'd come down for the game and had stellar seats: Front row, 5 yard line. I got one of their numbers as I was following up on a story for Jacqueline Czernin, the host of CBC Quebec City's, Breakaway show.

On Sunday at the stadium, I was down on the field for pre-game to take some photos. In awe of the sheer size of the stadium and the players on the field and, of course, all the sports broadcasters I admire milling around, I almost forgot about all the fans! So I turned around to shoot some pics of the people who really make the NFL the billion dollar business that it is. Trying to capture the wild groups of fans from Steeler and Packer Nations, I zoned in "Green and yellow!" and "Black and Yellow!" All of a sudden, my eyes caught a group of "Red and White! And Blue!" Nope, not Americans. Habs fans! There they were. The 3 fellows I'd met the day before and 3 others they were travelling with. Jeans, same cowboy hats, but this time all 6 were wearing Habs jerseys. My face broke into a huge grin. I walked to within 20 ft and yelled "Hey Canada!" They heard and waved and yelled hello. What a great picture. Canada, front row, centre stage.

During the game, all 6 made it onto the big screen! I spotted them again, not far down and over from the media booth I was in.

With the haystack that is Cowboys Stadium, you'd think they'd been a needle in my day. But when dealing with the size of Canada's heart, I felt like I wasn't far from home at all. Everything is much bigger in Canada.

Friday, February 4, 2011


The Back Story in Newsweek regarding SBXLV in Texas. Awesome!!
-- McKay Coppins and Robert Verger


When it comes to the Super Bowl, it appears so. This year's game is projected to pour $612 million into the Dallas-Ft.Worth economy (compared with Miami's $333 million gross last year). A head-to-head comparison:

XLIV (Miami 2010) vs XLV (Dallas-Ft.Worth 2011)


Cost to build Sun Life Stadium--Cost to build Cowboys Stadium
$115 MIL (75,192 capacity ----- $1.3 BIL (105,000 capacity)

Most expensive ticket $8,300 --- Most expensive ticket $11,000*


Cost for 30-second TV spot $2.6 MIL --- Cost for 30-second TV spot $2.8-$3 MIL
Donors who spent$1 million to be "founding sponsors"
No more than 2☨ --- 12


Year-over-year growth in demand for house rentals in and around Miami during Super Bowl weekend
232% --- 3,721%

Average round trip flight to Miami/weekend car rental -- $314/$180
Average round trip flight to Dallas-Ft.Worth/weekend car rental -- $326/$226


Price to attend party hosted by Snoop Dogg at the Delano Hotel -- $500
Price to attend party hosted by Diddy at the Tower Building in Fair Park -- $500

Maximum penalty for soliciting a prostitute
$500, two months in jail --- $2,000, six months in jail

* For $200 you can sit outside the stadium and watch the game on huge outdoor HD televisions
☨ Figure for Super Bowl XL, held in Detroit in 2006--the record prior to this year
** Attributable to the fact that Dallas-Ft.Worth is not as regular a vacation destination as Miami

You can read the original piece here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Whack Jobs

I realized after I got off the phone with JR and Steve of Team 1200-TGOR (Ottawa sports radio) yesterday, they probably wanted to hear more about the "whack jobs" at Media Day. JR pressed me a few times and I gave him a few tidbits but I suppose I could have given more. I wasn't getting the hint. Media Day, the kickoff of Superbowl Week coverage for all the fans, is the day that media from under every rock come out. (including me! ha!) We were bussed out on charters from the hotel and herded in like cattle when we arrived, through a massive temporary tent set up, not even the front doors. Herded, I'm not kidding. The security staff were guiding, pointing, YELLING military-like commands: GET IN LINE, LETS SEE YOUR PASSES, PEOPLE WITH EQUIPMENT TO THE LEFT- TO! THE! LEFT!, EMPTY YOUR POCKETS, UNZIP YOUR COAT, OPEN YOUR BAGS! On repeat. Those of us with equipment set it on the ground, in lines, then went through the metal detectors, and were patted down while the police dogs sniffed our camera and lenses. Then get in the next line to walk towards the stadium. Our crew needed radio frequency for equipment, so get in a different line. And finally we made it inside to find our little spot of turf to throw our coats.

Overhead annoucements and a huge timeclock keep everyone on schedule once the first team comes out. Packers players, suited up, headed on field. Some to podiums, coach McCarthy included and the rest left to their on defenses down on the turf. I frantically clicked pics, going to and fro, eavesdropping, finding the funnies, getting sucked in by Ross the Intern's line-of-questioning everytime I went by. The Network was there so I, admittedly, wasted some time gawking and trying to hear the broadcast. Marly, on our crew, was amazing and introduced me to colleagues whenever she could. She pointed out Ines Sainz, who had as much media attention as any of the players. People in costumes, kids with microphones asking questions, a girl measuring biceps and putting on a one-armed push-up competition. Questions about hair and beards, hair and beards. The clock ran out, we were herded upstairs for lunch, and then did it all over again with The Steelers. It was a complete gong show. Half the turf was swarmed with people. I LOVED IT!!!

I just want to say one more thing. I'm going to admit something. I trust it will stay here and none of you will call me out. I did not recognize Chad Ochocinco. There, it's off my chest. (I told a couple of my friends here in confidence but I've decided I'll be honest now before it bites me in the ass).
I didn't recognize Ochocinco!! What the hell? I was doing my rounds and I kept seeing him and thinking, "Who is this guy hanging with Ines Sainz (surprise surprise) and everyone wants to interview him?" He's in a fancy ass pair of designer jeans and a fitted leather jacket and I just couldn't figure it out. Every player had a uniform on. In my defense, the dude is SMALL. When I say small, I mean trim and not exceptionally tall. I'm sure his body is ripped underneath but I guess I just expected some serious bulk. And I also wasn't expecting for him to be there. WHY THE HELL was he there??? Ocho, your team isn't in the SB. Go lift weights or something. Anyhow, Marly says, hey hey get a picture of me and Chad, I haven't seen him for awhile. My brain clicks: "Chad", crowd magnet, cameras flashing, hanging with Ines Sainz....(bells sound) that's CHAD Ochocinco!! Hahaha how embarrassing.
Anyway, my story is going to be something like. "Well he said his name was Chad Johnson so it threw me off there for a bit". So go with it people and zip your lips.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's Arlington, people!!!

I arrived yesterday in Dallas. Decently warm (compared to Ottawa!) but the cold came overnight and today. Holy eff!!! It's freezing here!! The freezing rain hammering my window this morning actually woke me up. It's only supposed to last for 2-3 days and be in the 70's for Superbowl Sunday so I can get over it. But Superbowl XLVIII is going to be in New York. Ha!!! Good luck with that.

The Sheraton Dallas is home for the week and it's like an ant hill crawling with media from all over the world. It's a busy busy place. Cameras, recorders, computers buzzing and being carried to and fro. I feel so lucky to be included. Across the skywalk is the Media Center. "Radio Row". If you want to see how the biggest single day sporting event in the world is created, that's where you go. It's truly amazing.

The charter buses left bright and early this morning to Cowboys 3 inches of ice and a police escort. The new Cowboys Stadium (in ARLINGTON, TX--get it right, people) is what you might think. A super-modern monstrosity with premium suites fit for a king. Looking up at the big screen hurt my neck. But it's just stunning. Any photo I took wouldn't do it justice. The organization of media day is just crazy. One journalist (from Dallas) I spoke to said he read a book by an American sports writer now living in London and that writer once said "Superbowl Media Day is soul-crushing". I'm obviously on a rookie-high and enjoyed it all but I could see what he was saying. The NFL is known for it's BIG business and entertainment value and Media Day is the epitome of it. 5000 journalists and all the players and coaching staff and the NFL Network on set and it's just a madhouse of camera flashes, microphones, attention-getting shouts thousands of questions hardly even on the subject of actual football.

Still, made me happy. I was the stills photographer for our group today and I loved every minute of it. I listened to some great interviews and got close with some of my favourite sports journalists. *sigh*