An estimated 900 pounds of man hugs, give or take a few Roger Goodell abs crunches, were on display Monday in self-congratulatory delight. And while it was borderline cringeworthy to hear Jed York coo over the national anthem diva — “Lady Gaga, thank you so much for knocking it out of the park” — we’ll allow him that corny moment because Super Bowl 50 truly was a major success for the Bay Area.
I don’t offer such praise lightly, having covered 25 of these scrums and experienced the best in warmth (Miami), fun (New Orleans) and sizzle (Los Angeles) along with the worst in tundra (Detroit), debauchery (Tampa) and where-the-hell-are-we isolation (Jacksonville). But after so many concerns about rain, terrorist attacks, rain, transportation snarls, rain, homeless melees, rain, budget overruns, rain, more rain and, of course, rain, it turns out the only issues were loose turf, lousy offensive football, Cam Newton’s hissy fit and Bill Romanowski’s racist tendencies.
None of which were the fault of Host Committee chiefs Daniel Lurie and Keith Bruce or even York, who were slapping so much skin with Goodell at the week’s final news conference Monday that I almost suggested a bro outing in the Marina. It would be unfair to say they didn’t deserve their collective indulgence.
After all, there were no crises, no catastrophes, only rave reviews and revenues. More than $13 million alone was raised for nonprofit groups, and when that is factored in with the roughly $200 million that I believe will be injected into the Bay Area economy — most of which was spent in San Francisco, which hosted the vast majority of money-spending visitors — well, who in his right mind can say this undertaking failed? “I know this region loves to debate things, loves to have its voices heard. That’s what I love about my hometown,” Lurie said. “But we’re the most philanthropic Super Bowl ever.”
And one that earned tributes from Goodell, the NFL commissioner, who takes his cues from team owners who’ve made it clear they enjoyed the week and want to return for more Super Bowls.
“Everyone did an extraordinary job here. This was a perfect celebration of Super Bowl 50,” said Goodell, who doesn’t always throw civic bouquets and might not next year in Houston. “The leadership came together in a way we’ve never seen before it. Talk about setting a bar. Clearly, the Bay Area set a new bar. They could not have done a better job. They put their best foot forward.”
They pulled off all the other cliches, too.
Consider it a satisfying victory for York, the Host Committee and the mayors of the four participating regional cities. The goal was to stage this megaevent, from one Sunday to the next, and impress the league bigwigs enough to earn a spot in their regular Super Bowl rotation of six or seven sites. Once El Niño was paid off by the organizers, yielding gorgeous days and comfortable nights and one of the brightest game-day backdrops I can remember, the last check on the list was for the extravaganza to proceed without a security breach or a 10-mile jam-up on the 101. The 71,000 fans arrived to Levi’s Stadium on time, with few complaints despite the 46-mile distance from San Francisco. They enjoyed the game, with few complaints unless you were from the Carolinas. And they left without hassle, with few complaints unless you were Newton and had to hear Denver players in a nearby interview area say they were daring him to throw the football, which may have prompted him to abruptly flee his session with reporters.
“Load the box, force y’all to throw the ball. Can you throw the football? That was the game plan,” cornerback Chris Harris said.
Exit, stage right, for not-so-SuperCam.
The Broncos won the Super Bowl, but San Francisco won the right to host more Super Bowls. And generate more global attention. Next time, maybe the sky won’t be as blue. “I try to live a good life,” said York, full of quips, “but I definitely will spend a few more years in purgatory with the weather this week. I’ll take it. It’s worth it. I’d rather be lucky than good.” Point is, there will be a next time. The NFL would love to conduct its Super Bowls in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, North Texas and Arizona, I’m told, with Atlanta, Tampa and Indianapolis also in the mix.
This is a good thing.
If you don’t agree, maybe Sacramento is a better cultural fit.
Not that there weren’t hiccups. The Opening Night TV show was a farce because the league wants the mass group interview to be inside an arena. With players, media and a sellout crowd wedged into a hockey rink, the scene was too cramped and should have been conducted inside Levi’s. I know, the league prefers the stadium remain closed all week for security reasons. When the Super Bowl returns, I assume the biotech community will have lost its political fight with the Warriors, and a new arena will be up and running in Mission Bay. If nothing else, do it there. The teams can bus up here for one night and continue to stay in Santa Clara and San Jose. The players can’t get into trouble down there, not when Bennigan’s is about as dangerous as the nightlife gets.
Nor should the league or the 49ers use West Coast Turf, from Livingston in the Central Valley. York seemed to solve his post-Taylor Swift sod woes with a new mixture from Arizona that held up in the season’s second half, or at least after the massive Road Hole divot that almost devoured Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker. Sunday? “The footing on the field was terrible,” said Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib. “San Fran has to play eight games on that field so they better do something to get it fixed. It was terrible.”
Remember, Jed: No … West Coast … Turf.
As for the concession prices, $25 for a glass of wine, $15 for nachos and $12 for hot dogs is criminal. You ask fans to arrive early, which keeps them inside a stadium for as long as six hours, then gouge them when they inevitably want to eat. This is where the greed becomes nauseating.
But not as nauseating as Romanowski, who does local broadcasting commentary about the Raiders and is becoming as dirty as an analyst as he was as a player and PED user. After Newton’s post-game sulk session, Romanowski tweeted: “You will never last in the NFL with that attitude. The world doesn’t revolve around you, boy! #CamNewton.”
Boy? “I apologize for that remark ‘boy,’” he tweeted later. “It was not intentional or even trying to disrespect others. Peace everyone!”
Too late, Romo. Go back inside your cave.
Coldplay sucked. Peyton Manning dropped too many post-game Budweiser references. Talib tried to jump onto the NFL Network set and fell. Oh, and the Broncos trash-talked when they could have taken the high road, with safety T.J. Ward chirping afterward, “We let our pads talk. We talk with our helmets and our shoulder pads. They could do all the media talking, you know what I’m talking about? We’re not about that flashy stuff. We’re about that grind, putting in that work. Grind it. Work. That’s how you get the ‘ship.’ They want to be famous. We want to be champions. They want to be rappers and backup dancers. We want to play football.”
Even Wade Phillips, the Broncos’ 68-year-old defensive coordinator, rubbed it in when he tweeted of the Panthers’ now-quieted dancing antics, “A little Dab [will] do you but too much Dab will undo you!”
Yes, Wade Phillips tweets.
No, those missteps are not the Bay Area’s fault, either.
“It’s been our goal from the beginning,” said Bruce, “to redefine the way the Super Bowl is experienced and celebrated. We’re very proud to stand before you and say, in our belief, that we have accomplished that goal.”
The Giants have three championships this decade. The Warriors have one. A near-flawless Super Bowl 50 makes it five.
Jay Mariotti is sports director and lead sports columnist at the San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his website at jaymariotti.com.Cam NewtonJay MariottiJed Yorkpeyton ManningRoger GoodellSan FranciscoSan Francisco 49ersSuper Bowl 50