February 6, 2011
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Super Bowl XLV: Packers 31, Steelers 25
As this posting is mostly an excuse to post photos (see below) from my North Texas Super Bowl sojourn, I will limit my typical narrative, much to the applause to those few devoted readers who choose to spend time perusing my scattered ramblings. Instead, I have but a few recollections and observations to share…
- I arrived at O'Hare on Friday, February 4 and the place was chock full of Super Bowl-bound Midwesterners anxious about getting to Big D after enduring the Blizzard of 2011.
- As expected, there were lots of Packers & Steelers swag, but the airport had a decidedly Packers-heavy flavor as the stink of cheeseheads was thick.
- Rev. Jessie Jackson was on my American Airlines flight to DFW along with two muscular handlers and two young boys, presumably his grandkids. Jessie got to board early and he sat in first class while his entourage, including grandsons, sat scattered throughout coach with the rest of us...I guess Jessie reserves all the VIP perks for himself. (NB: he watched the game from Jerry Jones's box along with President George W. Bush...now that's a political odd couple.)
- On the plane I sat next to a heavy-set grandmother in her late-50s from Green Bay wearing Packers earrings and matching sweatshirt who sounded like a character from the movie Fargo: "Oh, yah, I love those Packers, ya know. Bart Starr was my hero as a little girl, and that Aaron Rodgers is another fine young man just like him...oh yah, you know it."
- That afternoon, upon my arrival, I was welcomed to Big D by cold weather and icy roads on Highway 360; and I narrowly avoided a black Ford F150 spinning out of control near the I20 interchange on my way to Duncanville.
- By Saturday morning the football gods smiled on Big D as the sun came out, the mercury rose, and the ice and snow dissipated.
- Super Bowl Sunday was perfect Texas weather: mid-50s and sunny. Thank God and Sam Houston!
- From my view at Parking Lot A, across a narrow creek that meanders around The Ballpark at Arlington, Cowboys Stadium arose from the prairie like a shining cathedral under the bright February sun.
- After snaking through the lengthy security line replete with magnetometers and frisky security guards, my brother, sister-in-law and I meandered through the crowd of investment bankers and corporate marketing executives stroking clients who in turn stroked scantily clad hired escorts.
- Super Bowl attendees are decidedly wealthier than your typical Packers or Steelers fans as evidenced by the fashion, spending habits and obvious penchant for plastic surgery. It was an interesting crowd to say the least.
- After inhaling a delicious green chiliburger and three or four MGDs, each of which cost at least ten dollars, we officially entered JerryWorld and found our seats on the 30-yard line behind the Packers bench.
- The game did not disappoint, especially since the Packers won. No need to recap the game as any and all readers no doubt saw it along with most of America.
- Halftime was impressive, especially a three story image of Fergie in HD on the massive jumbotron, a.k.a. the JerryTron.
- Seeing Roger Staubach, my boyhood hero, bring the Lombardi Trophy to the victory stand gave me chills.
- Walking to the car after the game I remember thinking I had just experienced something special, something unique, and I said a quiet prayer of thanks for the opportunity to be a part of the inaugural Super Bowl in North Texas.
- For good measure we stopped at Whataburger on the way home and each of us enjoyed a number one combo...mmmm Whataburger.
During the third quarter, as I watched the game alongside my brother—cheering on the Packers from ridiculously good seats on the 30 yard line—I gazed at the spectacle before me and suddenly realized I was part of something bigger than a mere football game. More than 103,000 fans in Cowboys Stadium along with hundreds of millions of people worldwide—the largest television audience in history—were watching the game along with me, and at that moment in time I was part of the world community celebrating sport as religion. Indeed, Super Bowl XLV was much more than a football game: it was a cultural event on the grandest scale.
In our modern secular age, which no longer is dominated by the intense and meaningful ancient world of Homer's Greeks or the grand hierarchy of meaning that structured Dante's medieval Christian world, sport has become a folk religion for contemporary Western society. As a non-practicing agnostic with decidedly Episcopalian/Presbyterian leanings, I'm not sure I buy the notion that "God is dead,"as Nietzsche argued, but I'm quite certain football is very much alive—especially in Texas. And football is surely more than just a game, as philosopher professors Hubert Dreyfus (UC Berkeley) and Sean Dorrance Kelly (Harvard) explain: "Sports may be the place in contemporary life where Americans find sacred community most easily...There is no essential difference, really, in how it feels to rise as one in joy to sing the praises of the Lord, or to rise as one in joy to sing the praises of the Hail Mary pass, the Immaculate Reception, the Angels, the Saints, the Friars, or the Demon Deacons. (All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age)"
Some will no doubt find this intensely secular perspective difficult to swallow if not downright sacrilegious, especially among the uber-religious in Texas, but I find it a somewhat compelling argument. Just think about it: regardless whether one prays to Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, or Elvis, everyone can join together on Sunday to cheer for the Dallas Cowboys (and against the Redskins, naturally).
Of course, to satisfy my complex and often ambiguous religious, spiritual and geographic leanings, I would have been much more spiritually satisfied if Dallas was playing instead of Green Bay. Nevertheless, at least we’re in the Cowboys’ cathedral in the homeland on the biggest day in sports. Or, to put it more succinctly, in the immortal words of singer-songwriter Alan Jackson, "God bless Texas." (Especially on this day when the football gods are all watching the big game in Big D…and just for good measure, may God bless the Dallas Cowboys, too.)