Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Buried Treasures

In my ongoing severe spring cleaning sweep where I look at each and everything before deciding to toss it out or keep it one last time I came across this. It was in an envelope within a shoe box within another larger box tucked away in a spare back closet.

It's my Super Bowl ticket from Super Bowl X. Note the face value in the lower right corner. Sure did bring back memories.

In 1976 I worked for an ad agency that had recently secured business on the McD's account. The previous summer my boss was the art director in charge of the very first promotional effort between the burger giant and the NFL. I helped him design much of it and worked for him for many years and as he got promoted I got promoted to his last position. I still keep in contact with him.

The promotional campaign ran during the season and was a big success that boosted sales and average check which always was and still is a client pleaser. Wednesday before the Super Bowl the owner of the agency called all of us who worked on the project into the large conference room. There were about two dozen employees total. Bud the owner told us all that McD's received tickets to the Super Bowl courtesy of the NFL. Since the campaign was our idea the client sent four tickets to the agency to do whatever he wanted to do as a thank you for a job well done. Bud wasn't much of a football fan. In a way for him to display his benevolence he suggested each of us write our names on pieces of paper that he distributed. To prove his impartiality he placed all the names into a replica Bears football helmet. Then he allowed the mail room kid to draw four names out of the helmet. Mine was the first name selected.

In 1976 I was three years out of design school, getting married in just over a month and made about $8,000 a year and here I was suddenly going to the Super Bowl. I would be flying on a jet plane for the first time in my life via Eastern Airlines all expenses paid along with three other friends from work. It wasn't easy making the arrangements for the four of us but Bud's secretary had a travel agent friend and she took good care of us even at such late notice. We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale because the hotels in Miami were booked. Our rental car was a tiny Chevy Chevette because most cars were taken. The Holiday Inn we stayed in was brand new and south of the party strip in town. Steeler fans were centered around Ft. L while the Dallas fans had Miami, we later found out.

We partied our asses off for over 48 hours straight. Saturday night we went with the four clients to the commissioner's party at the  famous Miami Jockey Club where we met and shook hands with Pete Rozelle in the receiving line along with other NFL marketing big shots. This was THE big NFL event for official sponsors as in "The Official (product name here) Of The NFL" Walking around shaking hands with guests from corporate sponsors like McDonalds, Ford, Sony, etc. were Hank Stram, Len Dawson, Jerry Kramer and other Super Bowl and NFL Championship legends but I was never able to get closer than ten feet away from any of them. And me without a camera. The buffet was a mile long with prime rib cut to order, lobster and every type of seafood you could think of. They even had strange Japanese food (it had to be sushi) to me at the time and beef tongue (I do recall it looked disgusting) being served by Japanese chefs for the Sony dignitaries some of whom shared a table with our group.

On the day of the game we drove down to Miami but one of the two women who won claimed she was too ill to attend the game. She never planned on going in the first place because all she was interested in was a free trip to a Florida beach in late January. Arriving at the Orange Bowl parking lot early the three of us wandered around the area looking to get some beer. Just west of the stadium was a Cuban neighborhood but we didn't know that at first. We went into a bar (the beer sign logo declared it to be one) made of cinder blocks with a tarp over the dirt floor. The bar was formica and all the beer served was in cans. Having glass in a joint like that was probably a bad idea, it was one rough joint but we felt safe being there at 10:00 am on a Super Bowl Sunday.

Then there was that leftover ticket. What to do? We scalped it of course, for a whopping $40. to a Dallas fan who sat in that seat next to us. We used that $40 to help pay for stadium food and drink.

This happened to be the Super Bowl where they filmed Black Sunday, the one where Middle Eastern terrorists plotted to blow up the Super Bowl. Before the game the blimp came down over the stadium very low. Fans were asked to look up and point at it. The same happened at halftime where the entertainment feature was "Up With People". Movie crews and cameras were set up filming around the stadium.

We sat right on the goal line on the lower level. Halftime was a real trip. In 1976 skyboxes weren't the norm. Standing in the 50 yard line restroom crowd I saw James Garner who drew a lot of attention. Being busy at the urinal the old man next to me with the trench coat and fedora did not draw my attention until two guys nearby simultaneously yelled, Hi Mr. Halas!" It was him, in the flesh, right next to me doing exactly what I was doing, shaking the dew off our lilly pads. I turned to him and said I was from Chicago and asked when the Bears would be playing in the big game. His response was, "we're working on it kid, we're working on it." It happened nearly a decade later.

Pittsburgh won the game with last minute heroics by Bradshaw and Swan, losing me ten dollars to one of the McDonald's clients. But just being there and experiencing that game was worth much more then me than losing a lousy ten bucks, hell I only spent about $50. total for an entire trip that was nothing short of priceless.

That's my personal Super Bowl story and thought I would get it out before age wipes most of the details from my memory.

Oh wait, I found more old stuff. Like my pass to Dodgertown mentioned in a previous blog entry about me and my pal, Tommy.

And here's another pass for the time I spent at the Seattle Seahawks training camp in Everett WA getting endorsement ad photos with Chuck Knox for the Purina account and later got a mean look on the sideline and yelled at by none other than Brian Bosworth (who I did not want to meet). I almost forgot, Abe Gibron was there too.

But that's another story for another day about famous people I had a chance to meet. Like the time I had  a few drinks with Huey Lewis....and he......


Dan from Madison said...

I am so glad we have the "famous people Gerry has met" category. But it is all downhill from James Garner.

Carl from Chicago said...

James Garner is a very distant relative of mine.

We always used to say that when we watched "Rockford Files".

Plus my grandmother lived in a mobile home trailer just like Jim Garner did in the Rockford Files, too.

But that is another great post Gerry keep looking through all of your stuff!

Gerry from Valpo said...

Didn't actually meet Garner, just stood near him waiting in the toilet line. But I did speak with Halas while peeing at the next urinal. Our hands were full so we didn't shake. Hands. You know.