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Super Bowl week -- Saturday
January 31, 2009 - Buck Frank
OK, we're less than 26 hours from kickoff.
Today was the Pro Football Hall of Fame announcement, and no surprise, ex-Steeler Rod Woodson is in on his first ballot. Whenever he made the NFL's 75th anniversary team several years back, it showed he would get in right away.
Bruce Smith was the most emotional inductee, although he, Woodson and Ralph Wilson Jr. were the only ones in attendance, and Randall McDaniel was on the phone. Bob Hayes and Derrick Thomas, the other inductees, are deceased.
There's really not much on the media agenda until the game on Sunday. The media will be shuttled out to the stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. It's probably a 20-minute shuttle ride with normal traffic -- not sure how it will be tomorrow.
I really got a first-hand taste of the excitement in Tampa on Friday night by taking a trolley out to Ybor City, an older section of Tampa that had streets closed and people (some intoxicated) everywhere. I actually walked past the waiting line for the much-hyped and extremely exclusive Maxim Magazine party, which Jerome Bettis, among others, was supposed to be attending. There were at least 100 young women (no males) waiting in line and dressed ... (let's just say they were probably cold on a rather chilly night).
While eating at a restaurant in Ybor City, Cuba Gooding Jr. was at a table close to ours. I resisted the temptation to yell out, "Show me the money!' I am assuming he's heard that before.
John Dudley, the Steelers' beat writer for the Erie Times-News, and I went to a bar called "Crowbar' for a story he was writing. The owner, Tom DeGeorge, is a native of Erie and is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He actually named the bar after the Crowbar in State College because, as we found out, he used to work there when he attended Penn State. He said his bar isn't getting extra business this week because he relies on regulars, and those regulars have been staying away to avoid the traffic and hiked-up parking fees.
On the way back, we had to pass the Maxim Party waiting line again -- all that was left were a handful of what I would assume were the Party rejects. It was reminiscent of the scene from "Knocked Up.'
I'm assuming it's going to be a crazy night tonight. I've been seeing mostly Steelers fans down here, but I'd say I've seen more Cardinals jerseys than Seahawks jerseys three years ago in Detroit.
We'll check back in Sunday before the game.