The Super Bowl Is Adult Spring Break: Part One
The Super Bowl is basically adult spring break. Not the game itself, which by Sunday is pretty much an afterthought anyway, but the week surrounding the game. Every day of your week long voyage is populated by a different theme -- the booze cruise has been replaced by all you can drink events, you wear colorful bands on your arms that grant you access to the parties and confer special privileges, and everyone angles for the "VIP experience." The VIP experience typically involves stairs and features better looking women.
This year's Super Bowl was in New York City and I got into town on Monday afternoon. A full week later, as I write this, I'm still in New York overlooking a snowy winter wonderland. But that's in the future, before I can end up here and tell you all about the drunken nights, the hung over mornings when I laid in bed asking myself -- can you really still go out drinking for seven straight days? -- and when my wife told me that meeting Bill Murray was the happiest moment of our ten year marriage, we have to start at the beginning.
On Monday of Super Bowl week.
1. My wife packs for me.
Some of you reading this are probably surprised that a 34 year old man can't pack for himself. Others, who regularly read this website, are not surprised at all that my wife packs my suitcase. I have still never boiled water in my life. Before I started living with my wife I had neither pots nor pans. When my wife moved in with me she said, "Where are your pots and pans?" Up until that moment, it had never occurred to me that I didn't have pots and pans.
Not once had I ever needed pots or pans.
Ordinarily my wife packing for me isn't an issue, but she's packed me ski pants and Timberland boots. I didn't even know I still had Timberland boots. (Related: I have not gotten rid of any object from my wardrobe since 1994.)
She says I'll need both for the Super Bowl.
I don't really want to go to the Super Bowl if it's going to be cold. I also don't need boots to fill up my suitcase with the free things I'll get at the Super Bowl. It's already an issue that being gone for a week will require me to check a bag. I'd rather saw off my pinkie with a butter knife than check a bag at the airport.
2. "What do you wear to the Super Bowl?" my wife asks, as she helps me pack.
"Jeans, black shoes, and a black suit coat over a shirt," I say.
"Every day?" she asks.
"Every day," I say. (Later I will push this to the fashion limit by going with a blue thermal shirt with a suit coat. But that's in the future. On Wednesday. AKA, the night I changed fashion history forever at Jay Glazer's party.)
But right now we're arguing about the boots and the ski pants. In particular, my wife is arguing that I should take the boots up the Super Bowl and that I can leave them behind after. Leave them behind?! But what if I have to cut down a sapling next year? What will I wear?
I hate winter. And winter clothes. And traveling in any direction north in winter. As a general rule, one that I've frequently told my wife, in my opinion it's not a vacation if you arrive at your destination and have to put on more clothes than you were wearing when you left.
I really hate the cold, I don't know why it has to exist. The last time I was in the real cold was when my wife and I went to Stowe, Vermont for a winter wedding in a ski lodge. She went skiing -- The last time I went skiing I hit a tree, tumbled down the side of a mountain, and went inside to drink never to emerge until we left -- and galivanted around the mountain. I did not go outside other than to attend the wedding ceremony. Otherwise I drank by the fire.
Later I found out drinking alone by the fire was the most popular past-time in all of Vermont.
If I could snap my fingers and make anything cease to exist it would not be war or famine or improper use of the word your and there.
It would be the cold.
"Are we skiing to the game?" I ask.
My wife is not pleased.
When your wife is packing your clothes, it's best not to argue too much with her selections. Although, I do remove the Timberland boots. Who knows when I might need to dress like it's 1995 again.
3. My flight leaves Nashville at 8:10 in the morning.
I'm obsessed with the Super Bowl weather.
I have like five weather screens open on my flight. My editors at Fox are emailing and gchatting me, "What are you going to write today?" and I'm like, "I'M TRYING TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE WEATHER HERE. STOP BOTHERING ME."
Also, I only write about the most serious stories possible, such as, an Alabama fan who had to get a belly button ring because Auburn beat Alabama and he lost a bet. (This is funny. You know what's funnier, the amount of other sites that pick up Outkick articles and repurpose our entire story about an Alabama fan who had to get a belly button ring.)
The wifi on my flight -- seriously, Southwest, why did you skimp on your g--damn wifi? Why, why, why? -- is not strong enough to allow me to upload both the story and the belly button ring picture.
Which is infuriating. Anyone who has ever needed to use a crappy wifi signal knows exactly what I'm talking about. Having a crappy wifi signal is more frustrating than having no wifi at all.
Then I get infuriated that I'm infuriated about the wifi not allowing me to upload a story about a football fan with a belly button ring.
But this is great journalism, WHY WON"T THE WIFI WORK? I"M ONLY TRYING TO SERVICE THE AMERICAN PUBLIC THE NEWS.
Am I in sub-Saharan Africa? Is this Moldovan Airways?
One day I'm going to flip out on a Southwest flight and get arrested over this wifi issue and when you all download the incident report -- which I'll probably put up on Outkick for you to read -- it will say something like, "Mr. Travis just kept reiterating again and again, "It's going to be an international incident if I don't get these pictures of Johnny Manziel's new girlfriend up on Outkick. Why does your wifi suck so much? I hate you. Your all gay Muslim racists." (The incident report will definitely use the wrong your to quote me, infuriating me even more.)
Anyway, I only root for bad weather when it doesn't impact me. For instance, I love watching football games in the snow on television. But if I'm going to be in the crowd at the game? I don't want it to be cold at all. It's not worth going.
4. There's a long cab line so when a guy walks up and asks if we want a limo -- the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt is also on my flight -- for $60, I say we do.
Ten minutes later the two of us are in a white stretch limo at 11:20 am when we enter New York City.
Jim is on the phone working on a story about Chris Johnson's knee surgery. Meanwhile, I'm verifying that my scoop about the Alabama fan with a belly button ring posted correctly on the site.
Also, I've noticed that our white limo has, for some reason, an entire cooler full of Sunkist sodas. It's like this limo was made for me. How many of these can I sneak into my black trenchcoat? I decide five is the right number.
5. I check into my hotel, the Essex House overlooking Central Park on 59th and 7th.
This will be the headquarters for Fox Sports's coverage of the Super Bowl.
For this week Fox has flipped coasts, the amount of on air talent, responsibility, and logistics is extraordinary.
So is the drinking. (We are a fun group from the President to the first year 22 year old PAs.)
There are tons of really important Fox Sports people in town for the Super Bowl.
I am not one of them.
6. After checking in, I walk over to radio row to pick up my media credential.
It's freezing in the city. It's always colder in cities, the way the wind whips through the streets, everyone has masks on their face, it seems like perfect time to commit a bank robbery. Except criminals, much like me, also hate the cold. There are drastic drops in crime when it's very cold outside.
This year's radio row is being held at the Sheraton Times Square ballroom. It's quiet today, but will become frenzied by Thursday and Friday. Hundreds of stations from across the country will broadcast from identical five foot tables with black tablecloth draped over them. The tables are set up in four rows running lengthwise across the ballroom.
On one end is the NFL Network and Sirius satellite radio set. On the left side are CBS and FoxSports1, on the right side are NBC and CBS Sports radio. ESPN is not on radio row, electing, instead, to have purchased Central Park to serve as its broadcast set.
On television radio row will look very impressive. In person, it's mostly unathletic guys, average age of 47, talking loudly into microphones while they compete ferociously to land the best guests. Today's best guest is New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford.
I see one producer waddle across the row and high five a host, "I got us Weatherford!" he says, pumping his fist.
Shoot me now.
On Wednesday Weatherford will show up, and I'm not making this up, in a fitted fur coat at Jay Glazer's party.
There isn't much of a line for credentials and it's best to get your credential early because later in the week the lines can get fairly long. With no wait, I walk all the way to the front of the line and give them my name.
There is much clicking and clacking of keyboard keys.
There's no record of my name.
"Who are you with?"
"Could you spell that?"
"F-O-X. space S-P-O-R-T-S."
More typing. "I'm not seeing anything." Then more furious typing. Why is there so much infernal typing? What could possibly be that complicated about my name?
I always hate having to give my name at any place like this because I always assume my name isn't going to be included on the list. Often, that's because it isn't. I think an Alabama fan somewhere is head of the NSA and just goes into record departments deleting my name from everything. I'm pretty convinced that if I was elected President I'd show up at the Capitol inauguration ceremony, give them my name outside, and they'd be like, "Could you spell Clay again, please? I'm not seeing you." I'd be standing there, like, "I'm the President-elect, the cameras just followed me here." I'm standing next to the President. I'd turn to him, "Tell them, I won the election."
And the President would be like, "Yeah, he's the new President, he should be on the list."
And I still wouldn't be on the list.
Then there'd be a front page story the next day, "President Travis lost his composure when he showed up for his inauguration and security would not allow him inside the Capitol."
How could you not lose your composure?
I hate lists. (Except for lists about dumb fan bases that I make up. I love those lists).
Anyway, I leave without a credential.
I filled out the credential request months ago. Later, while I'm excercising next to Joe Buck in the Essex House lobby watching the New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford interviewed about fitness and punting live on FS1 from radio row, I get a phone call, my credential is being kept at our hotel. Score! I have one!
I go downstairs to get my credential and find out we have a daily free sandwich too. Double score! (There is no one who gets more excited about free sandwiches than me. When we finished the Fox College Saturday show every Saturday they'd go get us sandwiches to eat and halfway through every show I'd start thinking in my head, "Almost free sandwich time!")
7. I do Monday's 3HL radio show from my hotel room without pants on.
You know how lazy newspaper writers came up with a stereotype of Internet writers, that we all wrote from our mom's basement wearing our underwear? I don't write from my mom's basement, but most of the time I do write without pants on. I mean, not naked -- you think my wife would let me sit on a piece of furniture without pants on? Please -- but in my boxers. I've always felt like a bit of a stereotype for doing this, but I've also thought, why would you wear pants to your job if you didn''t have to wear pants to your job? (I know, careful with the logic, this is how you end up a stripper too. Well, that, and your dad gets 25 to life for a Waffle House robbery gone bad).
Although, and this is completely true, I work from home and lately my three year old is a huge Star Wars fan. So occasionally we'll take breaks and have light saber duels. He has three different light sabers and he always gives me the crappy one that breaks. The other day just before we started to light saber fight he told me, "Daddy put some pants on."
This is the same kid that dresses as a Jedi or as Iron Man every day for a week straight.
And he's got a problem with how I dress?
Anyway, when I'm done with pantsless radio, I put on pants -- I've packed only two pairs of jeans for the entire week -- and I'm off to dinner.
8. On the way, I talk with my wife.
Who will be getting into town on Thursday and is obsessed with what it's appropriate to wear to the Super Bowl parties.
What will the other girls be wearing?
Every man reading this has heard this question a thousand times.
None of us ever know the right answer.
I have been married for ten years and still have no idea how to give my wife any clothing instructions whatsoever.
"Can you ask someone?"
Yeah, like that would help. She might as well ask me to to translate the latest episode of "The Bachelor," into Aramaic.
9. We're eating dinner at Barbuto, which is somewhere on the lower east side.
I'm off to meet my Fox editors, Matt and Zack, for dinner, along with "Crowd Goes Wild," producers, Greg and Jason, and Katie Nolan.
Barbuto supposedly has "great chicken." So everyone orders the chicken except me. I just refuse to believe their chicken can be that great. When was the last time you had chicken and thought it was bad? Chicken is the ice cream of the meats, everyone but diabetics loves it. Plus, Chick-fil-a is clearly the best chicken. Anything else is just Yankee blasphemy.
Katie and I do many things for Fox, but what we do best is make our mutual editor Matt incredibly uncomfortable while he tries to edit us. I like to see what Katie can get away with because that helps my arguments about what I can do. For instance, Katie got away with saying she would suck a d--- for a sleeve of Oreos.
Which is hysterical.
But, I went to college, I know lots of you girls reading this right now are thinking, "Crap, I wish I'd gotten a sleeve of Oreos for sucking that guy's di--."
As soon as I saw this, I loved it. Katie's fearless and she also has a mouth like a sailor. But she did order the chicken, like a chump. To make up for ordering the chicken, she's focused on making fun of me for ordering scallops and for not knowing the names of all the Seattle Seahawks receivers. Turns out Doug Baldwin is a real Seahawk receiver and not your wife's ex-boyfriend who now sells life insurance in Slidell, Louisiana.
it looks like I may be headed to the World Cup to write about the scene in Brazil -- I'll have to hire someone to stay on top of the belly rings stateside, clearly or the world might explode -- and Matt's interested in what he can tell advertisers I will be writing about.
"The whorehouses," I say.
Matt's already nervous about me being in Brazil.
10. We have lots of fine drinks and Matt and I head back to the Essex House bar, where twenty or thirty Fox employees proceed to shut down the hotel bar.
While we're there, Joel Klatt and I discuss the Thursday night FS1 party at Time Warner where Kings of Leon will be playing.
"Am I invited?" I ask.
"Sure, you're invited," says Joel.
"I haven't heard anything about it," I say.
I'm told I'll be on the list.
Sometime after two, I head upstairs to bed. Tomorrow is Super Bowl media day and I have important plans to not go to media days because it involves getting on a shuttle bus and going to New Jersey. Two things I can't think of hating more. But right now the room is spinning a bit and there's a glowing headboard above my bed, one of those trendy color-spinning displays.
I hate these things.
Particularly when, despite my best efforts of repeatedly hitting the turn off button, I can't get it to turn off. I call the front desk to say that my color display headboard won't turn off. The front desk lady says, "You have to push the button to turn it off."
The next morning I have someone from the maintenance staff come up to the room and he immediately walks over and pushes the button too. Like I'm the biggest dumbass on the planet and don't know how lights work. Oh, wow, all this time I've thought lights just came on or off of their own volition.
But a part of me is also terrified -- in that moment when his finger is about to touch the button -- that it will immediately go off when he touches it.
It doesn't shut off.
"The button's not working," he says.
Then he climbs under my bed and fiddles around with things for ten minutes. When he climbs back out from under the bed he mercifully turns out the light. But that's the next day.
Tonight, I bury my head underneath bright white pillows, which, conveniently, capture the luminescence emanating from my headboard and make the light more radiant. Accompanied by constantly changing pastel shades of color, I'm off to sleep.
Super Bowl day one is in the books.