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Sunday, January 19, 2003
Updated: January 22, 12:50 PM ET
Sex goes to the Super Bowl

By Jeff Merron
ESPN.com

Some people say the Super Bowl is all about money. Others say it's all about power. For many, it's all about advertising. A few die-hards insist football's the important thing.

But most of us know that it's really (like everything else) about sex. There are the parties leading up to the game. The groupies. The cheerleaders. A few hot commercials during the broadcast. Halftime quickies, for some big spenders in the corporate boxes.

Bourbon St.
Forget the Superdome -- Bourbon St. is where it's at.
We could go deeper (pardon the pun), into the realm of academic theory. For example, William Arens, an anthropologist, wrote, even the players' uniforms "symbolize exaggerated masculinity -- wide shoulders, enlarged heads, tight pants accented by a metal codpiece."

A metal codpiece?

Enough of that. Let's get to the Super Bowl sex lore.

Escapades

In the beginning ...
Before and during the first NFL-AFL Championship Game, Packers receiver Max McGee set a standard that players in the coming decades will try, and mostly fail, to eclipse. When he learned that prior to the big game there would be one -- and only one -- bed check, McGee fled his room after the official look-see.

"I met some blonde the night before, and I was on my way to pay my respects," McGee told Jerry Kramer, who wrote about the incident in Lombardi. "I didn't feel I was letting the team down any, because I knew there wasn't a chance in hell I'd play. I waddled in about 7:30 in the morning, and I could barely stand up for the kickoff."

But when Boyd Dowler was injured early in the game against the AFL champion Chiefs, Lombardi told McGee to get in there. "I almost fainted," McGee said.

Vince Lombardi
Vince's team could have used an extra bed check.
He didn't. Instead, he caught seven passes for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Packers' 35-10 victory.

Just to put that performance into perspective, consider this stat: During the regular season, McGee had caught four passes.

But maybe Lombardi knew more than he let on.

Recalled McGee, "After the game dear old Vince came up to me and said, 'Nice game.'

"'Most any end could've done the same thing,' I said.

"'You're right,' he said.

"I looked at him and said, 'Well, you sure took the edge off that, you S.O.B.' "

The night watchman
Just after the Raiders arrived in New Orleans for Super Bowl XV, Raider John Matuszak, a veteran of much wisdom, told everyone he'd be laying low before the big game.

"I'm going to see that there's no funny business," he said. "I've had enough parties for 20 people's lifetimes. I've grown up. I'll keep our young fellows out of trouble. If any players want to stray, they gotta go through Ol' Tooz."

But on Wednesday night, he was out partying on Bourbon Street. And when he awoke Thursday morning, he found himself next to a woman he couldn't remember meeting. And he was late for a scheduled meeting with the press.

John Matuszak
The collar says it all -- Tooz liked the nightlife, he liked to boogie.
The press naturally had some questions when Ol' Tooz limped into the interview room with bloodshot eyes and a massive case of bedhead. "I'd love to give you all a blow-by-blow account of the evening," he said, "but it's basically a blur."

And what about protecting the younger players? "That's why I was out on the streets," he said. "To make sure no one else was."

They're both winners
The Monday before Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor and Bills quarterback Jim Kelly got together to judge an important pregame competition: a beauty pageant at the Dollhouse, a topless club. A photog caught Taylor goofing around, putting a faux choke-hold on Kelly while the contest was in progress.

It was all in good fun, Kelly told the press: "I'm 100 percent Irish, and I like to enjoy myself as much as the next guy."

Since I've already won the award ...
Hours after being presented the Bart Starr Award from Athletes in Action on the day before Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami, Falcons safety Eugene Robinson, he of "high moral character," was arrested for trying to pay for oral sex from a prostitute. Unfortunately, the prostitute was an undercover officer, and Robinson had to be bailed out of jail by Atlanta's GM. Robinson, widely admired for his charitable work, had said of himself, "It's my personality to reach out to the community." Um, wrong thing to reach out, Eugene.

Falcons coach Dan Reeves defended Robinson -- in a way. "Unfortunately, even as Christians, we do things wrong," Reeves said. "We're all sinners."

A salute to TD
A few days before Super Bowl XXXIII, Dan Le Batard reported in the Miami Herald that Broncos RB Terrell Davis, like many other NFL players, has no trouble picking up women. And these are true groupies. "A woman got out of bed after spending the night with him last year," wrote Le Batard, "and, standing at attention, gave him his trademark end-zone salute."

Say what?
Before Super Bowl XXXIV, a spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department assured the public that "Our folks will be out Saturday night and will be active and enforcing vice activity."

Hugh Hefner
You sometimes look and you can never touch.
Doing it for charity ...
Playboy's second annual Super Bowl party, held at novelist Ann Rice's mansion (which used to be an orphanage) in New Orleans before Super Bowl XXXVI, was the hottest ticket in town. Ducats for the soiree were going for $1,000 -- if you could get 'em. (You couldn't.)

Playboy.com summarized the proceedings, attended by Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, and "200 beautiful girls in scanty attire." Allen oversaw a charity auction, the Playboy website continued, and "While a jazz ensemble set a bluesy tone in a basement room, lovelies dressed only in body paint undulated to a disco beat in the desecrated upstairs chapel."

FYI, courtesy of the American Heritage Dictionary:

Un'du*la`ting -- Rising and falling like waves;

Des'e*crate -- to divert from a sacred purpose.

Chastity

Everybody out of the (sex) pool
In 1979, Roosevelt Taylor told the Washington Post magazine that head coach George Allen was the reason the Redskins lost Super Bowl VII. "He screwed up the whole damned week," Taylor said. "We got there being confined by curfew one night a week during the season. We get out there, and there's curfew every night. We had to eat every meal together, you went to practice together, to the press conferences together. George really hated Los Angeles. He got that from George Halas. Halas used to call L.A. the 'sex-pool' of America. George believed it too.

"So the whole week became a boring thing. Even though we worked hard, the boredom carried over to the game. ... It sure didn't help us."

Advice from a taxi driver
Before Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary said he was going to avoid the multiple temptations of the city by staying in his hotel room. Shaya Lisogorski, a taxi driver interviewed while waiting for a fare outside the Mons Venus nude bar, said McCrary had the right idea. "I think the team who goes to party the most is the team who is going to lose the game," the cabbie told Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Craig. The cabbie said he knows what he's talking about, too, as he had given many pro and college athletes a ride home from the club. "They almost always lose" the next day, Lisogorski added.

This isn't my hotel room?
A few days after McCrary said he'd stick to his hotel room in Tampa (see above), the Orlando Sentinel reported he'd been spotted with fellow DL Rob Brunett -- at Mons Venus.

A practical man
Ravens DT Tony Siragusa, unlike some of his teammates, thought about the NFL's warnings to the Giants and Ravens during Super Week in Tampa. The league feared, among other things, arrests that might result from violations of the city's "six-foot rule," which required nude dancers to keep their distance from customers. "I never really understood the strip-joint thing," he said. "Why go to a place and get all excited and then have a hard time walking out?"

Predictions

Who else would pick the Bengals?
Dr. Ruth Westheimer predicted that the Bengals would beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII in 1989, because their wives were allowed to stay with them, while the Niners and their spouses were housed in separate hotels. She turned out wrong, as all Page 2 readers know. San Fran proved it had more staying power, completing "the drive" to capture the Vince, 20-16.

Dr. Ruth
Dr. Ruth also taught us that some things are better left unsaid.
Well, that would have been the Dodgers. In 1955. In baseball.
Downtown Julie Brown, asked to predict the winner of Super Bowl XXV, replied, "The team with the best bums."

She's been wrong before. But who cares?
Dr. Ruth provided some advice to the 49ers and the Chargers before they faced off in Super Bowl XXIX. She told Miami Herald reporter Greg Cote that it would be OK for players to have sex before the big game. "For those players who have a partner: have a quickie with that partner -- maybe two or three through the week, but not a long lovemaking episode. Players, I can say loud and clear: if you feel any sexual tension, take care of yourself. Don't be sad. Be happy that everything works!"

The fans

The Lord giveth ...
Before Super Bowl XXVI in the Metrodome, Evelina Giobbe, a former prostitute who ran an advocacy group for women who work in the sex industry, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Pimps see the Super Bowl as a moneymaking opportunity delivered by God."

The Lord taketh away ...
In the same Star Tribune story, Rebecca Rand, who favored legalized prostitution (and, the paper reported, was then facing racketeering charges related to prostitution), added, "People going out of town to party want bars open and adult entertainment. Visitors don't check to see how many church services there will be on Sunday morning." So much for quid pro quo.

Well, there's really not enough time between innings ...
"I haven't done a scientific poll," Rand said (see above), "but a Super Bowl and football crowd is more likely to pay for sex than a baseball crowd. During the football season, there are a lot of halftime calls."

It's the betting we're concerned about. Really ...
Before Super Bowl XXIX in Miami, Michael J. Peter, described in the Orlando Sentinel as a "sex club magnate," threw "the hottest party of Super Bowl week." Nobody argued: the "Platinum Plus Gentlemen's Casino Cruise" featured 200 naked showgirls, nude limbo, co-ed bubble baths, and a pool filled with red Jell-O. But the Super Bowl Host Committee wanted to project a more wholesome image, and denied any official connection. Hosty the Super Bear, the host committee's mascot (really), did not comment.

But the NFL did. After the league learned that lots of former and current players were scheduled to depart Port Everglades at the same time as the Jell-O, it warned them to stay away -- because of the gambling on the cruise.

What a nice coincidence ...
Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa coincided with a city festival called "Gasparilla." The New York Post noted that the festival was all about "boats, beads, boobs and booze."

And now, a word from our sponsors

One hot dog
During the 1987 Super Bowl, Budweiser introduced Spuds MacKenzie, and "The Original Party Animal" became a sex symbol, of sorts. Posters of Spuds surrounded by beautiful women sold like dog biscuits, and Spuds (a female, in fact) toured with a trio of hot Spudettes. A marketing professor tried to make sense of it all. "You've got this animal that's sort of ugly and sort of cute. yet he's surrounded by these sexy women. It's like every postpubescent male's dream." Oh.

James Brown
James caught some heat for being on the scene, like a sex machine.
Sometimes a wiener is just a wiener ...
Oscar Mayer, which sponsored the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans, refused to sponsor anything the next year. The hot dog maker explained that the New Orleans show, which included James Brown singing "Sex Machine" and ZZ Top playing "Legs," was not the family-oriented fare it wanted to be associated with. "We strive hard to maintain a certain image, and I think we were disappointed in the content of the show," explained the company's president, Rick Searer.

Tasteful? That's not for us ...
NBC refused to air a spot for Muse, an impotence drug, during the 1998 Super Bowl. According to the ad's producer, Bob Hoffman of the Hoffman/Lewis ad agency, NBC claimed the ad wasn't appropriate for a family audience. He was puzzled. "The Muse spot was intentionally conceived not to be provocative: all type and done in a tasteful way." And he expected viewers to pay attention?

What the heck, there'll be another Super Bowl next year ...
After Victoria's Secret aired a 30-second spot featuring the scantily-clad Tyra Banks and Stephanie Seymour during Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999, the lingerie company's website was inundated with about a million curious folks who suddenly couldn't care less about the game. They ended up, er, frustrated, as the heavy load crashed the site. But Victoria's Secret was thrilled. Said one suit: "What other commercial has triggered a million people to immediately get up and do something?" Which leaves us wondering, what commercial hasn't?

Really. We're talking major renovations ...
Holiday Inn ran a spot during the broadcast of Super Bowl XXXI that featured a woman being scoped by male admirers during a class reunion. The punchline: she graduated as a man, and had a sex-change operation in the meantime. This is supposed to be a metaphor for Holiday Inn's billion-dollar renovation program. Lots of folks didn't like it, and let Holiday Inn know. The hotel chain's exec. VP apologizes. "We understand that the ad has offended some people," he says. "That was never our intention." The ad is pulled.

The NFL's worst nightmare
Headline at CommercialCloset.org, a website that examines gay advertising: "Cross-Dressing Scores At Super Bowl As Gay Ads Hit New High in 2001."

If you were given a choice

A tough hypothetical
Darnell Autry, who quit the Bears after the 1997 season (his first in the NFL) to pursue a career in acting (it didn't work out), returned to the NFL in 2000 with the Eagles. Understanding his conflicting desires to be both an actor and a football player, Playboy.com interviewed Autry while he was still with the Eagles:

Playboy.com: If you had a choice of starring opposite Tyra Banks or being the featured back in the Super Bowl, which would it be?

DA: Oh, no, not Tyra Banks! Don't do it to me. I'd have to go with the Super Bowl, but that would hurt though. I would feel that one for a long time.

Playboy.com: How about if she could just play in the backfield with you?

DA: She could be a fullback or something? She could be my lead blocker."

Kinda hard to wrap your mind around that one, isn't it?

Floyd Reese and Steve McNair
Hey, guys. What does it feel like when you actually win?
Well, to begin with, it lasts a lot longer ...
Prior to Super Bowl XXXIV, Tennessee Titans GM Floyd Reese told the Tennessean he was thrilled about being it the big game. "It's better than sex," he said.

Let us count the ways ...
Debra Haffner, president and CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S., told T.J. Simers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she wasn't sure she agreed with the Titans GM and other who said the Super Bowl was better than sex. "It probably depends on what kind of sex you're having. For most people, peak experiences are rare. So it's fair to probably say that going to a Super Bowl for those men is better than sex. I mean, there are lots of ways to have orgasms."

Thanks for the memories ...
Patricia Smith, a reporter for the Boston Globe, wrote in that newspaper in Dec. 1994 that one thing that didn't leave her when she moved from Chicago to Boston was her love of the Bears. "Anytime I started pining away for everything I'd left behind, I'd chant a mantra that's gotten me out of more deep blue funks than good, explosive sex: Super Bowl XX, Super Bowl XX, Super Bowl XX."

Odds and ends

Because the football won't scare the kids
At a charity auction in March 1994, a football used in Super Bowl XXVIII went for $330. An autographed bra that Madonna wore during her "Girlie Show Tour" got a top bid of only $200.

We want you to be sexy. But not that sexy
Three months after the Broncos won the 1998 Super Bowl, Broncos cheerleaders Carla (McFarlan) Sanchez and Carrie (Swoboda) Roswell posed for Playboy. "Sanchez was shot nude amid a sweaty workout, while Roswell donned a see-through negligee pulled down under her breasts," wrote Blair R. Fischer on the magazine's website. The Broncos were not amused -- the (now ex-) cheerleaders were barred from the team's Super Bowl ring ceremony and the team didn't give Sanchez and Roswell their rings. But after they appeared in the December 1998 issue, the ex-cheerleaders hired attorneys and started telling their story to the press. And they got their rings.

Britney Spears
Oh, she actually sang? We must have missed that.
She's a virgin?
Britney Spears made an appearance during the Super Bowl XXXV halftime show (along with 'N Sync and Aerosmith), in tight silver pants, and a midriff and cleaving-baring kinda half football jersey, half tank top, and a sock on one arm. Somehow, she managed to out-strut Aerosmith. Probably didn't hurt that her boyfriend at the time, 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake, was on the stage and within pheromone-striking distance. Wrote one commentator on online teen webzine i.e. teen, "I don't know that I really heard her sing more than a line or two here and there, but the mental image of her practically falling out of what little clothes she had on, making herself into a sex object, remained."

Indeed.

"I didn't come here to lose."
During halftime of Super Bowl XXXVI, NBC aired a special edition of "Fear Factor" featuring Playboy's Miss July 1996, Miss March 1996, Miss February 2001, Miss January 2002, the 1995 Playmate of the Year and the 1996 Playmate of the Year competing for $50,000. Among the challenges: walking a tightrope between two buildings, and plunging, bikini-clad, into ice-cold water. One bunny actually uttered one of the all-time great pregame clichés, "I didn't come here to lose," during the broadcast. Few Super Bowl viewers heard it, though, as most stuck with the game's broadcaster, Fox, and the halftime show featuring U2.