For many years, I’ve enjoyed Super Bowl Sunday immensely, going out to nice restaurants comfortably, and taking advantage of a time when all the rubes are gathered in front of the TV watching young men exchange brain injuries for large sums of cash.
I went to an NFL game once, back when the Los Angeles Rams played at the Coliseum. I sat in a section where Jonathan Winters was compulsively performing for strangers, and Gypsy Boots was doing some excessive volunteer cheerleading. If you don’t know either of those names, you’re on your own, but you will not be tested on this material.
When the Rams moved to Anaheim, I was offended. It was just down the freeway, but they might as well have moved to St. Louis—which, in fact, they eventually did. I didn’t watch another NFL game for decades. They were dead to me. It must have been in my blood: I came from Indiana, where football was an activity contrived to fill the space between baseball season and basketball season. I filled my Sunday afternoons by tuning in an occasional exciting women’s college volleyball match instead. When I first became a fan, I cheered for the team wearing the shortest shorts, but I eventually learned to watch the ball. I remember a year when we were touring Australia during the Olympics, and I walked into Hosty (which those who are familiar with “Taking America to America” will recognize as our nickname for the hotel’s hospitality suite) and several members of our group were watching a women’s volleyball match, and I pointed out the names of each of the US team’s players, plus what college they had attended, a feat which left several of our musicians dumbfounded.
Full disclosure: In 1987, I played in the Super Bowl.
It was Super Bowl XXI, using that precious way they have of giving these events Roman numerals, as if they were some kind of ancient historical event. To be consistent, I guess I should say that the year was MCMLXXXVII.
Our vocalist was set to perform the National Anthem at the start of the game. We had recorded a track at Arch Angel, Neil’s studio, so the band didn’t actually need to be there, although some of us rode the bus to Pasadena. I was there with my video camera for the game plus the sound check, at which our ace sound man Stanley Miller attempted to conquer the notoriously hostile acoustics of a football stadium. And he did conquer it. Our track played flawlessly, and our guy sang the tune with extreme gusto, making us all proud. Fox Sports rated in number 10 in its list of all-time great Super Bowl anthems, noting “Diamond gets all the points for sheer, workmanlike efficiency (gone in 60 seconds!) and for bringing a close to the song with a Neil Diamond-esque audience singalong.”
I have to admit it was a pretty brisk tempo, as I realized when I watched it again today. We did the entire anthem in the less time that most of today’s performers spend on the word “free.”
The New York Giants, I should add, defeated the Denver Broncos that day by a score of XXXIX to XX.