The hubbub was picking up. Dave Motts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, always the cheeriest guy in town, appeared from a car, yelled a hello and disappeared into Super Friday.
The hubbub was picking up.
Dave Motts from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, always the cheeriest guy in town, appeared from a car, yelled a hello and disappeared into Super Friday.
A while later at breakfast, a friend who has a vote in today’s Hall of Fame election wasn’t feeling cheerful. He was discouraged about one of his favorites, Fred Dean, getting passed over again.
He was discouraged because a key Dean proponent had been dismissed from the selection committee for revealing committee secrets.
And another thing ...
“This is the most cheerless Super Bowl,” my friend said. “Even in this room. There’s no music.
“And the downtown? The only people you see are other writers.”
But downtown was changing. It wasn’t just writers any more. Cops on bicycles and horses. Fans. Players. Pretty women.
My battle plan included the news conference in the West Ballroom at the Convention Center.
By accident, I set up in a dark corner by some curtains, where I heard a voice say, “You’re on in 40 seconds, Roger.”
There was Roger Goodell, sounding surprised.
The second-year NFL commissioner strode to the bright lights. He handled a barrage of questions with more cool savvy than some presidential candidates.
There were lots of issues, some heavy.
The Sean Taylor murder. Developing tests for human growth hormone. The league’s choice to destroy evidence in the Patriots’ “Spygate” scandal.
The overtone was serious, important, as if the people in the room sensed this meeting was the conscience of Super Bowl week.
It takes steel to stand in those lights and come off as smoothly as Goodell did. I forget whether that occurred to me before or after seeing the street preachers on the walk back the hotel.
They attend every Super Bowl, shouting about Jesus amid the bustle.
Out of curiosity, I approached a few of them. Why take this approach? Isn’t it uncomfortable to raise one’s voice before a passing parade of personalities who didn’t ask for your opinion?
Standing on a box across from the bustling Wyndham Phoenix, one of them finished a street-preacher sentence to no one in particular before looking down to say hello.
He was a skinny 19-year-old kid from Scottsdale named Logan. He was 16, he said, when some of the junk high school kids fall into left him feeling empty and searching. He joined a group whose outreach included street preaching.
At the start, it was as natural to him as sitting on a cactus. A couple years in, it isn’t easy.
“I wish it was as easy as sitting home and every now and then reading the Bible,” he said, “but I believe I’m called to do this.”
He never gets used to being viewed as a creature from outer space, but the job has its rewards.
“People will come up. We’ll start talking. I’ve had some really good conversations. Sometimes a few minutes. Sometimes an hour.”
Logan was back on his box.
I’m back on the 15th floor wondering: What would be easier for you? What took more guts Friday? Standing in the ballroom in the commisioner’s shoes? Or standing on the street in the kid’s?
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail email@example.com