Super Bowl XLVIII Recap

Audio/Story posted February 3, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Patrick Woo

ComRadio's Patrick Woo recaps the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

 

Patrick Woo shares his Super Bowl experiences this past weekend in New York/New Jersey.

It didn’t quite have the Super Bowl feeling until a fantastic national anthem by Renee Fleming with the American flag spread across the field, fireworks in the sky and apache helicopters flying overhead Metlife Stadium.

At that moment, there I was standing in Section 101 in an auxiliary press area at what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called, “the world’s greatest sports spectacle.”

Numerous Penn Staters were involved in the coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII and it was great to see them in action. Among them were Emily Kaplan for Sports Illustrated’s MMQB, Melanie Collins for Yahoo! Sports, Michael Rose for Newsday, Catherine Marvin for Rubenstein Public Relations and Michael Renahan and Hannah Biondi, who were interns for the NFL. Those are just the ones Curley Center Director John Affleck and I ran into. There’s also Rich Russo, who directed the broadcast for FOX, LaVar Arrington who was airing his radio show from the media hotel and Mike Signora, the VP of Communications for the NFL, who made all of this possible.

John and I arrived on Friday so the craziness that is Super Bowl Media Day was already behind us. We saw the insanity of radio row, which in this case was more of a radio ballroom and the media workroom was an entire ballroom as well. There were over 6,000 credentialed media all week long.

The big event Friday evening was the press conference for the movie “Draft Day” starring Kevin Costner, Dennis Leary and Jennifer Garner. It was a very entertaining press conference, to say the least.

Saturday was the media’s day to rest up after a long week of coverage to get ready for the game. The media hotel was very quiet.

We went out to Times Square and Super Bowl Boulevard, which stretched down Broadway from Times Square to 34th street. There was everything you could think of there, including large tourist crowds. There were activities for families and kids that included kicking field goals, a mini obstacle course, and a huge toboggan slide. National crews such as CNN, ESPN, NFL Network and FOX also had broadcast locations set up. The FOX compound was huge and the most popular. Shows on Fox Sports 1 were airing there all week long but it was quiet on Saturday.

Saturday’s main event was the Handoff Ceremony where the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl host committee would give the hosting duties to next year’s Arizona host committee. Among those in attendance and that spoke were New York Giants co-owner Jon Tisch, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The media scrum afterwards to approach Governor Christie was insane as he spoke for just 38 seconds after news of his knowledge of the bridge closing came out.

For the rest of Saturday, John and I explored Super Bowl Boulevard and the activities going on. There was also an autograph signing in Bryant Park where Barry Sanders was reportedly signing. We also did some man-on-the-street interviews with fans for ComRadio. Seahawks fans definitely outnumbered Broncos fans but all six neutral fans I spoke to told me the Broncos would win. John and I both picked the Seahawks.

The fascinating thing to John, a New York native, caught my attention too. It was that once outside of Times Square and a couple blocks away, there was no indication that a Super Bowl was taking place. There was no signage and no hype for the events. It was just another weekend day in New York City. Our conclusion is that New York is just so big that it swallowed the event of the Super Bowl rather than the Super Bowl becoming a city’s main event.

Saturday ended quietly although there were VIP Super Bowl parties with celebrities galore that needless to say, we weren’t invited to.

Sunday was Game Day. It was Super Sunday. But it didn’t really feel like it. Perhaps it was because I missed all of the media coverage and events all week leading up to the weekend but it felt like another football Sunday, not a Super Sunday. It was New York, so there were some non-Super Bowl things to do as well and the morning of the game I made a stop to the Rockefeller Center’s observation deck and caught a glimpse of New York City from high above before heading to New Jersey for the game.

John and I caught the media bus from the hotel that would take us to MetLife Stadium. Security was very tight. The NYPD brought a dog on board the bus to make sure we were all clean before heading to the stadium. The ride to the stadium was quick because the NYPD had shut down a lot of roads and the tunnel to clear the way for the media buses.

The NFL reportedly spent $11 million on Super Bowl security. When we arrived at MetLife, we entered a giant tent labeled as the “Media Pavilion” and the inside was set up like airport security. High security, long lines, empty your pockets, walk through the metal detector, be frisked, etc. I was confronted by security for attempting to take a picture on my phone of the long lines. Security asked to see my phone to make sure I did not have a picture and then made an announcement to all the other media that no photography or reporting is allowed inside the media tent.

Once we got through, John and I were in Section 101, Row 41 right behind the Seahawks end zone. We had a perfect view of the game and to see plays develop. This was our auxiliary press area that really could not have been better. We were also covered overhead and had heating lamps above us. The weather, though, wasn’t nearly as bad or as cold as anyone anticipated and so the heat lamps were a little too much. The stadium also had the restrooms heated up to what felt like 100 degrees.

The crowd was a lot more impressive than we thought it would be. It was about three-to-one Seahawks to Broncos fans but both fanbases were louder and more passionate than we thought because of the Super Bowl being an event with such a corporate crowd. There were a lot of Seahawks fans that managed to make the trip and they were loud.

As warm-ups took place, it still didn’t feel like a very big event but the national anthem performance really hit me and made me realize where we were standing. We were standing at Super Bowl XLVIII, a place where Peyton Manning or the Seahawks would either make history.

The game was what it was, a 43-8 blowout by the Seahawks. But for the first half there was always that feeling that something might happen in the Broncos’ favor. Nothing ever did. We had a great view of Super Bowl MVP’s Malcolm Smith interception return for the touch down and afterward seeing Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas in the end zone nearest to us ripping his helmet off in frustration and walking slowly off the field.

The halftime show was great, but not because John or I were Bruno Mars fans, neither of us could really name a Bruno Mars song but the lighting and visuals were fantastic. Every fan had a beanie in his or her seat and was instructed to put it on for the halftime show. The beanies had a patch saying “Pepsi Halftime Show” on the front with lights embedded in it. During the show, the stadium remotely controlled the lights and the visual effects for the show were outstanding. Not to mention, they turned the heat lamps above us off so we could cool down.

John and I were guests on ComRadio’s Super Bowl preview show on Saturday and I said Percy Harvin would have to make some plays and John mentioned to me Russell Wilson’s improvisation ability will be a key. Both were as Wilson made plays but Harvin’s kickoff return to start the third quarter sealed it.

The rest of the game was really taking in the atmosphere and enjoying what could be Peyton Manning’s final snap in a championship situation. The Seahawks were relentless the entire game though, not letting up and the way the defense pursues the ball was very impressive to see in-person.

The final minutes of the fourth quarter were spent waiting for the confetti and for the clock to hit 0:00. John and I had a decision to make in which his expertise was vital. Would we watch the trophy presentation on the field or head down to the media interview tent and assume our position there? After the game ended, we watched the confetti fall and then headed down to the postgame media area.

As a former athlete and competitor, to be a part of it when the confetti falls was always a dream. To be standing 41 rows up while it fell at event that was a dream to cover, almost satisfied that feeling.

The interview room was crazy as expected. Our main objective was to talk to the Penn Staters that were now Super Bowl champions, Michael Robinson and Jordan Hill.

Percy Harvin was the first player out and the media gathered around. Some media weren’t concerned with Harvin as they floated around the media tent waiting for other players to come out to other podiums. The most important thing in these situations is knowing what you want for your story and who you need to get to for it.

As the more popular players were announced, “Richard Sherman to Podium 10” or “Russell Wilson to Podium 14” the media scrambled and some ran to get in position for the best soundbites and quotes. It was madness.

For others though, like MVP Malcolm Smith, there wasn’t much interest. Smith didn’t have a very big crowd to speak to but I was there and the man who hijacked the microphone and said to investigate 9/11, walked right in front of me. How about that? He walked right by me and I couldn’t tell that he didn’t have a legitimate credential. I would not make a good security guard.

We never did get Jordan Hill as they did not allow locker room access to us and they never brought Hill out to the interview room. At the end of the night though, we had gotten Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Harvin, Smith, Robinson and Sherman.

Then it was back to the media bus, which was a little hard to find. MetLife Stadium had a good plan to direct the media where to go. There was tape laid out through the stadium in different colors. Following the blue tape led to the press box or the interview room while following the purple tape led to the auxiliary press area or the exit. It was a very well organized event and there’s so much more preparation that goes into it.

It began to rain after the game and the next morning we woke up to snow falling. The weather worsened as minutes went by. We, and the NFL, were really lucky that the winter storm hitting New York as we left didn’t come a day earlier.

A special thank you goes out to Mike Signora of the NFL and Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State John Affleck for making this Super Bowl experience possible.

Patrick Woo is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email pwoo3315@gmail.com.

Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)