The Super Bowl XLIV party report
MIAMI -- Guidos and guidettes,
We're not partied out. Yet.
We've done EA, a Playboy event and pretty much everything in between as we get to Super Bowl Sunday. We've seen athletes everywhere and we've seen a smattering of celebrities too.
We're rating this year's parties by the fist pump because we do love the "Jersey Shore," and the MTV show is considering coming here this summer.
Come Sunday, we'll rate the No. 1 party of the week. Until then, check back here daily as we give you a special behind-the-scenes look at what's going down in Miami.
We guarantee it'll be a lot more interesting than talking about Dwight Freeney's ankle.
• ESPN The Magazine's NEXT Super Bowl party
Why that title? Named after the magazine's NEXT campaign, which focuses on the "next" generation of superstar athletes.
Where and when: Fountainbleu Hotel, Miami Beach. Those White House party crashers would have been out of luck at this joint. It had to be the most difficult party to get into. You had to know at least three somebodies to get in.
Performers: Keri Hilson and Ne-Yo commanded the stage, while Q-Tip commanded the deejay booth. And Nelly served as the party's VIP reporter.
Celebrities we saw: Matt Stafford, Robert Horry, Matt Light, India Arie, Ronnie Brown, Stephen Jackson, Ryan Grant, Jason Campbell, Mario Williams, Vernon Davis, Asante Samuel, Maurice Jones-Drew, Larry Fitzgerald, Donovan McNabb, Jermaine Dupri, Kevin Frazier, Terrell Owens, Jake Long, Marcus Allen, Charlie Batch, Keon Latimore, Ty Law, Osi Umenyiora, Roy Williams, LaMarr Woodley, Charles Oakley, Hines Ward, Ndamukong Suh, Jack Del Rio, Nick Lachey, Nene Leakes, Fred McGriff, Mitch Richmond, Deion Sanders, Isiah Thomas, Shawn Springs, Shante Broadus, Taboo and apl.de.ap from the Black Eyed Peas, Andre Berto, and of course, many of ESPN's on-air personalities. And that was just inside the party. Milling about in the lobby were Chris Brown and Usher. We weren't sure if they were arriving or leaving.
Celebrities who were confirmed, but we didn't spot: Hundreds were confirmed and in general, you couldn't go two steps without bumping into a professional athlete. We were expecting to see some non-athletes here, but they were at the Leather and Lace party and the Jay-Z concert.
Overheard: Lots of complaining about the length of time it took to get into this party. Even if you arrived when the doors opened, you still were forced to wait. The wait was somewhere from an hour to three hours just to get in, even if you had a pass. This was the longest entrance time for any party for the week. One partygoer observed, "I'd say the terror alert in here is definitely orange."
Food factor: Sliders and sushi.
Best party clothes: Larry Fitzgerald looked like a GQ model/investment banker with his light gray suit and designer frames.
Worst party clothes: And here we thought acid-wash jeans went out of style in the early 1980s. We spotted a pair and shockingly, that person also wasn't wearing jelly shoes and holding a Cabbage Patch kid.
What would The Situation say? This didn't quite live up to last year's Super Bowl party in Tampa -- c'mon, it's hard to redo epic -- but the World Wide Leader in Sports turned into the World Wide Leader in Boogie on Miami Beach. Past parties have featured a NASCAR garage and virtual games, but this time, ESPN dialed down the toys and went right to the heart of what makes a VIP Super Bowl party great: fantastic music, high energy and lots and lots of fabulous people. Q-Tip was outstanding and performers Keri Hilson and Ne-Yo were dazzling. We had to feel a little sorry for other parties competing. A solid 7½ fist pumps.
• Pepsi Refresh Project Launch Party
Why that title? This was a huge party for the Pepsi Refresh Project, which grants money for NFL player-sponsored charities. This year 500,000 fans voted for Drew Brees' idea and he was given the $100,000 Pepsi Refresh grant that will help New Orleans-based Hope Lodge provide rooms for cancer patients and their caregivers. $25,000 grants were awarded to Mark Sanchez's and DeMarcus Ware's ideas. Rihanna was there to host the event.
Where and when: At Fountainebleu Miami Beach LIV Nightclub.
Performer: DJs Joel and Benji Madden
Celebrities we saw: Rihanna, Mark Sanchez, DeMarcus Ware, Joel Madden, Benji Madden, Deion Sanders, Lance Bass and Joe Mauer
Celebrities who were confirmed, but we didn't spot: None
Overheard: When a video was shown of Drew Brees, DeMarcus Ware and Mark Sanchez talking about their grant ideas, the Jets quarterback started laughing as he stroked his newly shaven face when he saw his former scruffy self on the big screen and leaned over to a friend to comment about his beard. Sanchez, Ware and Brees' wife, Brittany, waited outside of Rihanna's dressing room to meet the singer before the presentation. "I'm a huge Rihanna fan," Brittany Brees was overheard saying.
Food factor: A surprisingly great assortment including braised beef, roasted pork, roasted chicken and deserts including mini cheesecakes and chocolate. The open bar wasn't restricted to certain sponsored brands, which is how the high-class parties do it.
Best party clothes: It isn't necessarily clothing, but after being reminded of what Sanchez looked like with his overgrown beard, we have to say that the clean-cut quarterback was looking sharp.
Worst party clothes: Rihanna's turquoise metallic embroidered strapless dress with a huge ruffle around the front looked like an '80s prom dress gone wrong.
What would The Situation think? It is well-known that many of the Super Bowl parties have an uneven female-to-male ratio, with the male demo dominating. This bash, however, had a surprisingly high number of young females, but because many of the ladies were fawning over the pro athletes at the party (and Rihanna), it would be highly unlikely that The Situation would have had the attention he's used to on "Jersey Shore." That being said, between the open bar, quality selection of food, exceptional music from the Madden bros and solid celeb turnout, this bash gets the best rating yet, with a stellar 9½ fist pumps. The reason it wasn't a perfect 10? There was a little sound system snafu when Rihanna went to give the presentation.
• Jaws' South Beach Cigar Party
Why that title: Named after ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, aka "Jaws." The proceeds from the silent auction generated monies for the United Way of Miami-Dade and the United Way Jaws Youth Fund.
Where and when: Hotel Victor, South Beach.
Performers: None. Unless, of course, you count the sports memorabilia up for auction.
Celebrities we saw: Bill Cowher, Donovan McNabb and several of ESPN's NFL analysts, including Tom Jackson and Mike Ditka.
Celebrities who were confirmed, but we didn't spot: It was a small event (about 250 people), but it was completely sold out.
Overheard: McNabb joking with a partygoer who asked him whether he thought he would still be a Philadelphia Eagle next season. In response, the easygoing McNabb tapped a couple of random partygoers on their shoulders and asked, "Hey where am I going to be next season? Minnesota? Arizona?" Nice to know McNabb has a sense of humor.
Food factor: The ceviche at this event was spectacular. Besides that, your normal cheese and fruit trays.
Best party clothes: Since it was cigar party, we saw several nicely dressed gentlemen in suits.
Worst party clothes: This is one of the few parties we attended in which the fashion rules were obeyed.
What would The Situation say? This might have been a little too grown-up for The Situation. There were no scantily clad women, and certainly no poufs. But every year, the party team tries to attend an affair that goes against the norm -- typically it's Leigh Steinberg's Saturday afternoon party but somehow we weren't invited (hint!) -- and Jaws' event was certainly a welcome change. You could actually have a real conversation with the person next to you and there was very little texting. Also, the variety of cigars provided to each guest were top notch. We promise we're not biased because Jaworski is technically our colleague, but this was one of the most underrated events at the Super Bowl. Despite the haze of cigar smoke, this party was a real breath of fresh air. Seven fist pumps.
• New Tide plus Febreze Freshness Sport Launch Event
Why that title? The event was to celebrate Venus Williams teaming up with Tide.
Where and when: The Recreation Deck at The W South Beach
Performer: Solange Knowles and Pete Wentz DJ'd
Celebrities we saw: Kellan Lutz, Terrell Owens, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Pete Wentz, Kelly Rowland, Solange Knowles and Gabrielle Union.
Celebrities who were confirmed, but we didn't spot: None
Overheard: Owens showed up and played tennis with Charles Oakley before competing in a two-on-two basketball game and Twilight star Kellan Lutz challenged his agent to tennis. Meanwhile, Venus Williams was giving tennis tips in a skin-tight violet Herve Leger dress. "Well, you've got to be careful," she said. "I don't have the normal strappings that I usually have on the court but I'm staying conscious."
Food factor: Mini-burgers, mahi mahi sliders, bruschetta, cupcakes, key lime pie, skewers, dumplings and an open bar.
Best party clothes: Lutz was wearing a Help Haiti shirt and said he was going to a charity telethon later that night. We love celebs who give back!
Worst party clothes: Although Venus looked damn good in that Herve Leger dress, it would have been better suited for a red carpet Grammy party than a casual daytime event.
What would The Situation think? The Situation is all about getting in some GTL every day: gym, tanning, laundry. This daytime event would have been right up his alley. There was a basketball court, tennis court, football target practice, cocktails, hors doeuvres and music. He could get some color being out in the sun and get a little workout by playing basketball and tennis. We have to hand it to the people at Tide, when it comes to daytime parties, this event was done to perfection. Not only did all of the celebs they invited show up (which included an A-list franchise movie star and top pro athletes), but there was plenty of delicious food to go around, a perfect number of people, great music and lots of games to keep partygoers entertained. Best of all, there was no VIP area, so the celebs were mingling among the crowd, which made everyone feel more relaxed and, of course, like a very important person. Nine fist pumps for throwing the perfect daytime bash.