Stock up on Sharpies. The Super Bowl — and all the celebs that come with it — is almost here. But you can't just walk up to your favorite star and ask for a signature. Or can you? Here's an autograph hound's guide to the game. — Dalia Colón firstname.lastname@example.org
The teams' charter flights will arrive at Tampa International Airport Sunday or Monday in an area off-limits to the public. Likewise for celebs on private jets. But you will have a chance to bump into anyone flying commercial. Camp out on the third floor of the main terminal, where all arriving and departing commercial passengers pass through. At St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, your chances are pretty much nil, as any celebs would come in private jets.
The idea of the major parties is for A-listers to let their hair down without being hounded by, well, you. At the Maxim Party and Good Life Experience, security will be so tight from the limos to the red carpet to the entrance that you'll barely see a celeb, let alone ask for a signature.
The Steelers will stay at the Intercontinental Hotel. The Cardinals will stay at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. But there's no way you're getting anywhere near the players, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. Hotel security will be "tight," he said.
Other hot spots
Next week, many of the diners at Bern's Steak House will likely be of the celebrity persuasion. If you spot a star, your best bets are to nab a him or her in the lobby, during a tour of the kitchen or walking downstairs from the dessert room. In downtown Tampa, the media center at the Tampa Convention Center will be swarming with recognizable faces, but as the name implies, you must have a media credential to enter. And when the parties let out, high-rolling celebs will likely head to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. You can't interrupt the table games, but celebs on the main floor are fair game.
Tips from a pro
Daniel Bader, 25, co-owns Gametime Sportscards memorabilia shops in Brandon and Riverview. He estimates he's gathered more than 500 athlete signatures since he began collecting in 1997. Check out Bader's tips for successful autograph hounding.
Come equipped. Carry items that aren't team-specific, like a generic football and baseball, so any athlete can sign them. To nab musicians and other non-athletes, have on hand a Super Bowl XLIII program, cap or other souvenir, which you can order online. Use a Sharpie for footballs and programs, and a ballpoint pen for baseballs (fountain pens run).
Be polite. Know the celeb's name — "Hey, Jamie Foxx, may I have your autograph?" — and abide by the unspoken one-auto-per-person rule. Avoid approaching stars at restaurants, especially when they're with their family. And never hit someone up at the urinal.
Seem genuine. Be excited to see the person. To prove you're not just out to make a buck, ask to have the item personalized, or have the person sign your skin. "If I was an athlete, that's who I'd want to sign for," Bader said.