Back in the day, there wasn't a lot for players' wives to do during Super Bowl week.
They could shop. If the game was in a warm-weather city, they could hit the beach. They could mingle with the other wives on the team.
No longer. Each year, a group of NFL wives stage a fashion show in the Super Bowl city. And this year, another group, the Professional Sports Wives Association, is getting into the party game with a celebrity gala Jan. 30 in Ybor City.
"I know people think we do nothing, which drives me crazy!" said Gena James Pitts, founder of the PSWA and wife of 12-year NFL vet Mike Pitts. "Shop, eat lunch, do nothing — it drives me crazy, because if people knew what wives do behind the scenes, they'd be surprised."
The event, dubbed "Diamonds and Pearls," is the first of a three-night series of parties in the Good Luck Cafe building in Ybor City. It will be hosted by entrepreneur Dylan Lauren, the daughter of Ralph Lauren and founder of Dylan's Candy Bar, a whimsical sweets shop with two locations in Orlando. There will be soul food, a performance by R&B singer Jon B., and pricey jewelry on display.
"Diamonds and Pearls" is the first event of SuperLX, a series of parties running Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 in Ybor. Details and celebrity hosts for the Saturday and Sunday night parties are still being finalized, but DJs from 95.7 The Beat will be on hand throughout the weekend. For details, check out superlx.com.
Meanwhile, another wives' group, the Off the Field Players Wives Association, is tentatively working on its eighth annual Players Wives' Fashion Extravaganza for Jan. 30. Details of that event are still in the works; you can read about last year's show at offthefieldpwa.com.
One night with Paris?
We're hearing rumblings about a potential appearance by Paris Hilton at a Super Bowl party at Jackson's Bistro on the eve of the Super Bowl. Right now, says Jackson's promoter Mike Piper, the only thing confirmed is that Hilton's boyfriend, Good Charlotte drummer Benji Madden, is scheduled to perform a DJ-drums set with DJ Ravi Drums. The event itself has yet to be named, but we couldn't help but notice that Ravi Drums' Web site lists him as the "resident drummer/live re-mixer" for the Playboy Mansion. Hmmm...
If you can't wait until the Super Bowl for a taste of Ravi Drums, he's also performing at Jackson's Nov. 26. For details, call (813) 277-0112.
Celebs hoopin' it up
One surefire way to draw celebrities to your town: Stage a charity basketball game.
The Gridiron Celebrity Hoops XI game is slated for 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at the University of South Florida, with a dunk contest, autographs, performances and giveaways. The lineups haven't been announced yet, but past participants include Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo, Nick Cannon, Snoop Dogg, R. Kelly, Isaiah Washington, Carmen Electra and just about any NFL star you can imagine. Tickets will run from $10 to $200 and will go on sale soon at footballhoops.com.
Ditka's holding it down
Da Coach is getting in da game. Mike Ditka will host a series of events called "Gridiron Greats" from Jan. 28-31 to raise money for retired NFL players in need of financial assistance.
Festivities include a dinner and VIP reception hosted by Bob Costas at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Jan. 28; a golf tournament at Avila Golf Club in Tampa on Jan. 29, a huge autograph festival and silent auction at the Hard Rock on Jan. 30, and a Ditka-hosted clay shooting event in Lakeland on Jan. 31.
A massive slew of NFL legends is scheduled to appear, including Dick Butkus, Mean Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Michael Irvin, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Lawrence Taylor and Gayle Sayers. For details, visit gridirongreats.org or call (800) 708-1078.
What's in it for us?
Hear from an expert what to expect when the Super Bowl comes to Tampa. Bob Sullivan, president of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, will speak on "The Benefits of Professional Sports on our Region'' at 3 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Drive in Largo. Call (727) 586-7398.
— Jay Cridlin, Susan Thurston