In 1972, my dad surprised me with tickets to Super Bowl VI at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The Dallas Cowboys hammered the Miami Dolphins 24-3. That Super Bowl was more like a college championship game than what we have grown to know about modern-era Super Bowls. In 1972, Dad, Mom and I jumped in the car and traveled from Ravenna, Ohio to Picayune, Mississippi, just north of New Orleans. We were big on AAA back then and they mapped out the route ahead of time on one of those old AAA flip-type notebooks, I think it was called a “Trip-tick.” They told Mom that there were no hotels available in New Orleans and they suggested one in Picayune—one of those old motels with a diner.
When we arrived, it was an old “along the highway” motel. Dark wood paneling. Two double beds with the quarter slots for the vibrating massage. It was colder than normal, and the heating wasn’t working real well. The TV in the room was pretty retro, but had a couple of New Orleans stations. We brought our luggage in and started planning the Saturday afternoon. I was really excited to get downtown New Orleans to see the sights. We drove in and found a parking place and started wandering around the French Quarter. I loved the old two-story buildings with the wrought iron railings. The narrow streets and the ambiance of the old south was welcoming a party in every building. A lot of pre-game jubilee.
Doors were open. People were walking in the streets, just coming and going. No passes. No credentials. Just one big open pre-game party. Food and drink everywhere. Nothing like this on the farm. After the second pretty young lady in very provocative attire walked up to me and asked if I would “party” with her, Mom shut it all down. No more pre-game entertainment. When we got back to the motel, Dad was hungry, so we went over to the diner. They seated us in the corner booth. Dad had his back to the corner. Just as Dad bit in to the Southern Fried Chicken he ordered, the large brown heater about six feet over his head cut on. Being that it hadn’t been used in years, it blew a dark cloud of dust right down on him and his chicken. I mean he was covered, except for his eyes! Best entertainment of the day!
In my work with the NFL, I’ve been blessed to attend nine more Super Bowls. I took my son Christian with me to all of them. A lot has changed. People pay big money to enjoy food and drink and to mingle with celebrities. The streets are usually turned into family-oriented, football-related entertainment experiences, free to the public. Hotels are booked months in advance. Face value of game tickets were $15 in 1972. Nowadays, they are usually more than a thousand dollars. It’s exciting and fun to be able to go to attend the events leading up to the game. But, I have to say, nothing has ever compared to the pre-game show of Dad’s chicken dinner in the dust bowl. These times were as Ecclesiastes 3:13 says, “a gift of God” to be with my Dad at the Super Bowl and to share that experience later with my son.