Please note that by the time you read this report, the game will be over and the
champion determined. Due to the seven-hour time difference, there is no way to
cover the actual game in time for our midnight press
INDIANAPOLIS – The circus is in town. And with his
three-ring legacy already on-hand, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has
been there, done that. This time, he’s making sure to enjoy the
Saturday night at the swanky Conrad Hotel was the scene of a
private, 150-person intimate dinner party hosted by the “Massachusetts Mensch”
It’s easy to see why the Patriots are regarded as one of the
classiest operations in pro sports.
On the eve of perhaps the biggest
moment of his professional career, Mr. Kraft has made it a priority to,
as he said from the podium “welcome and thank the people who have been a part of
this journey, this extended family.
You all being here is what makes
these moments the most special.” (Hit- Home Highlight of the night: Israel
women’s national team QB Shana Sprung being called up on stage by Mr. Kraft – at
the freakin’ Super Bowl – to be presented with a No. 18 jersey in recognition of
the special relationship between the late Myra Kraft and football in Israel.)
Forget The NFL Experience, a downtown interactive football theme park offering
games, displays, entertainment attractions, kids’ clinics, free autograph
sessions and the largest football memorabilia show ever.
THIS was my real
NFL experience. Talk about sports hob-knobbing.
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I quickly found
out that trying to insert oneself into a conversation of dual-sport Hall of
Famers Pat Riley and Cal Ripken Jr. is a bit like asking Giselle Bunchen for her
phone number. Not likely to happen, but points awarded just for
trying. No matter, plenty of other big fish in this sea.
out DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, has a
soft spot for Israel and “would love to bring 15 of our players out there to
help boost the growth of football in the Holy Land.” NFL Commissioner Roger
“That would be a special trip that I’d love to take
part in,” he remarked, likely without realizing that he was going to be held to
Cocktails were followed by dinner, during which Mr. Kraft
called up a panel of former Patriots – Troy Brown, Rodney Harrison, Teddy
Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri and Ty Law – to speak about their
experiences as teammates on multiple Super Bowl-winning clubs.
overarching theme of the discussion was how much work, yet how much fun, it is
to be a part of successful football team.
These guys were like brothers,
making fun of each other, chiding each other, but expressing deep love for the
each other and the bond built over championships.
“People think that luck
is big part of the reason this franchise won three Super Bowls in four years,”
exclaimed Harrison. “Maybe luck played a tiny role but, man, the amount of work
and dedication it takes by players, coaches, management and ownership to reach
the pinnacle of this sport not once, but time and again, is something that goes
far beyond anything I can describe.”
With Chris Berman – and then Super
Bowl broadcaster Al Michaels – moderating the events, the laughter flowed
Former Monday Night Football commentator and comedian Dennis
Miller finished off the night with his usual off-color, oft-confusing, but always
on-the-effing- point, routine.
“Not many people in the world could be
going for their fourth Super Bowl ring and it be far from the best thing that’s
happened to them in life. What you and your wife Myra had was something that you
rarely see in this world.”
There were some very pro-Israel, pro-cursing,
anti-Arab jokes, however the obscurity factor with Miller makes them somewhat
difficult to recall with accuracy.
I’m beginning to ramble here at 5:30
a.m. I have to get to sleep. I have to make it on time for minyan with the
Krafts – Robert has to say Kaddish – at 9 a.m. to kick off what will surely be a
truly unforgettable day! I’m back…just three hours until kickoff and about to
enter the stadium with a quick stopover at the NFL’s official
Mr. Kraft somehow never fails to impress. (“It’s not that I’m
such a religious or observant person, and I am not so strict on saying Kaddish
for my sweetheart every day, but I want to demonstrate to my children and my
grandchildren that even on day as big as this, the things that are important in
life take priority.”) Meanwhile, I gave up a ticket to the Playboy pre-game
party to attend the Chabad all-you-can-eat kosher BBQ bash. (And if you believe
that, then maybe you’ll also believe that I got a call from Bill Belichick this
morning asking me to step in for Tom Brady.) The festival of football is in
full-swing, the streets packed with revelers from all over the country (and
world) whose excitement level is rising with each passing minute.
beer-infused smells of both pig and pigskin fill the air as footballs fly
through the streets in spontaneous pick-up games sprouting up on every street
The Big Blue Giants’ pre-game shindig was as to be expected, with
appearances from Rodney Hampton, Harry Carson, David Tyree and a host of former
Alas, amid all the unbridled gluttony, finally the need for meat
was too strong, and I headed over to the Chabad event, where I caught a quick
Mincha minyan and, of course, ran into four or five people that I knew from New
York, Toronto, Jerusalem and Indianapolis. The power of Jewish geography at its
With a belly full of ribs, chili, sliders and brats, and my
hand-packed dinner in hand, I am ready to tackle the main event.
happens, I will be satisfied knowing that I am squeezing every last bit of
enjoyment out of this weekend.
Disneyworld has nothing on this. I’m sure
I will be back again, but as everyone knows, you never forget your first.
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