Commentary

Brass serenade starts Super Bowl week

Originally Published: January 31, 2011
By Jim Caple | Page 2

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Just in case I didn't know it already, another reminder this is the land of football arrived when I was awoken by a college marching band playing outside the hotel at 4 a.m. And again at 4:30. And 5. And 5:30. And 6.

I assumed the band was playing for one of the many TV stations that have set up shop around here for Super Bowl week, but I could not imagine what time zone would possibly want a live broadcast at this hour. I mean, just how many Steelers fans could possibly live in Zagreb, Croatia? (Answer: Probably more than there are Pirates fans.) I was later told it was the TCU marching band rehearsing for an appearance on "Mike and Mike," which is broadcasting down the block from my room. Thanks, guys!

[+] EnlargeHines Ward
AP Photo/David J. PhillipSteelers wide receiver Hines Ward reveals his inner Texan on Monday.

ESPN has basically taken over downtown Fort Worth, setting up booths and stages in Sundance Square for broadcasts. This is big enough news that it was the featured story in this morning's Star-Telegram. The other major story on the front page was that the 115th annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo set attendance records over the weekend. As for that little affair in Egypt? That was pushed back to Page A12.

Well, that's the way things are when your community hosts Super Bowl week, that annual seven-day bacchanalia of media hype and excess. For instance, TMZ reported that area "gentlemen's clubs" need 10,000 more strippers to meet the demand. Not just 10,000 strippers -- 10,000 more strippers than usual. Ten thousand! This is a staggering figure, given that there are supposedly only 60 or so strip clubs in the area. That means each one will hire roughly 160 extra strippers! Really? Is there possibly that much demand? Sure, there are a lot of sportswriters here, but are strip joints the only places fans go during Super Bowl week? I mean, what about the Stock Show?

Plus, there is Friday's NFL/American Urological Association Foundation Prostate Screening, during which players will get free prostate examinations! And remember, there is no cover charge for that one.

Super Bowls usually are held in warm-weather tourist centers that appeal to corporate executives on expense accounts who will justify the enormous company cost -- the guy at the rental car counter said I could have a vehicle for $250 a day -- by laying off 200 employees the following week. Not this time. Tuesday's forecast calls for ice pellets and a low of 13. I pity the strippers.

But this is where the Super Bowl belongs. This is such football-obsessed land that not only is there a highway named after Tom Landry, there is a mosaic of him carved into a retaining wall and a silhouette of his signature fedora on the road signs.

Hines Ward got into the proper Texas spirit by appearing at the Steelers' news conference Monday afternoon wearing a black cowboy hat, black cowboy boots, black cowboy shirt, jeans and a silver belt buckle capable of serving the entire defensive backfield. The only thing he was missing was a pair of chaps. He also wore diamond studs in his ears, which I do not recall Woodrow Call wearing in "Lonesome Dove," but times do change.

"I'm in Dallas," Ward said. "So I wanted to get a cowboy outfit and wear it."

Actually, he was in Fort Worth, but it was the thought that mattered.

I'll be here the next few days for Page 2 as well, blogging and reporting and videotaping and hoping that if I'm awoken in the morning, it will be by college cheerleaders instead of the band.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter at jimcaple.


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