Brian VanderBeek

Revealing big game's lost tales

There are no darker days on a sports fan's calendar than the two-week lag between the NFL's conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

But from a media standpoint, every minute of those 14 days is crucial, as we dig deep to find the angle that somehow evaded the 3,000 credentialed media that descend each year on the host city.

Most of those badge-wearers will make the hop from the official hotel to University of Phoenix Stadium this morning for today's media day.

Some will wonder out loud why the University of Phoenix has a fabulous football stadium but no football team. Others will discover midway through the session that the quarterback of the New York Giants has a brother.

Passing a test is not a prerequisite to being granted a Super Bowl credential, which is why the proceedings are always mucked-up by a contingent from Comedy Central, another group from "E" and David Letterman's mom.

From that abyss, someone actually will come up with a unique angle -- a fresh line of questioning to a player that would make for a nice story.

But despite the prying questions and diligent work of the assembled media mob, most of the stories will remain untold.

So merely as a public service, I offer some little-known facts about Super Bowls past and present:

The legend holds that Lamar Hunt came up with the name of the contest -- previously called the NFL-AFL Championship Game -- after watching his daughter play with a Super Ball.

Had he arrived home 10 minutes earlier, this would be the 42nd rendition of the Easy-Bake Oven Bowl.

Each year, NFL owners choose the halftime performer by secret ballot, and each year, the outcome is the same -- 31 votes for the eventual headliner and one vote for Connie Francis.

Because of the tight copyright laws, the only video cameras that will be allowed on the premises must either be part of Fox's television coverage or be carried into the stadium by a Patriots assistant coach.

As you read this, the finishing touches are being put on some of the feature stories that will fill Fox's four-hour pregame show:

11:30-11:42 a.m. -- Should Bill Cowher's chin implants be considered performance-enhancing?

Noon-12:14 p.m. -- Live interviews from the domestic terminal at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, with all the NFL players who came for the weekend parties getting out of town before the game starts.

1:03-1:03:12 p.m. -- Great moments in Arizona's NFL history.

2:12-2:24 p.m. -- Live, bid-by-bid coverage as the eBay auction of Tom Brady's foot cast comes to an end.

2:38-2:46 p.m. -- Terry Bradshaw's take on the presidential race. The former Super Bowl quarterback closes the segment by endorsing the young, energetic Irish guy from Illinois and wonders if he's related to former Steelers running back Frank O'Harris.

Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin became NFL coaches only after they were among the first to be voted off "Last Comic Standing."

True story. In 2006, one month before the stadium opened, the Phoenix-area chain of fast-food Mexican restaurants called Pink Taco made a bid for stadium naming rights.

(If you think I'm going to add a punch line to that, you're crazy. I like my job.)

The stadium's retractable roof takes 12 minutes to go from fully open to fully closed. Joe Buck's mouth will not close once during the entire game.

The stadium has 63,400 permanent seats, and with temporary seating can be expanded to 73,719 for big football games. That's nothing. Given the demographic profile of Phoenix, they could put 100,000 in there by staging Bingo Night.

The stadium's grass field spends all week in the sun and is rolled into place for games. It's nickname is Pat Summerall.

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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