TAMPA — Okay, so let me get this straight.
There was lots to do Sunday afternoon at the NFL Experience that has taken over 850,000 square feet of parking lots south of RayJay, with lots of people standing in lots of lines to do so.
You could punt, pass and kick a football, browse cool displays or get an autograph, and it's nice that there is an event for the people who actually live in the host city (and that ticket sales benefit an area youth center).
But the true NFL Experience? How about $10 to park, $18.50 to get in ($12.50 for kids), $3 for water, $5 for french fries, $6 for hamburgers and $8 for a beer.
Souvenirs? Check out the big tent — $26 T-shirts, $38 hats, $100 jerseys, $159 jackets, $189 pullovers. (Used to be you could go to the game for less — $175 as recently as 1993.)
Other impressions: More Mike Alstott cards and memorabilia for sale than any current Buc (and no sign of Jon Gruden). … A lot more Rays stuff on display and on people than you would expect. … Tricky scheduling to have both Dexter Jacksons — the former Bucs Super Bowl MVP (and current Bengals) safety, and the current Bucs receiver — sign autographs at the same time. … Coolest activity? Getting to "conduct" one of those Coors Light fake coach's news conferences. … Oddest activity? Sitting for a photo at the new Channel 8 anchor desk.
After what already seems like weeks of buildup, the actual players arrive in town today. But don't get too excited: with practices closed, media sessions private and hotels under heavy security, it's not like you have much chance to see them anyway. (Well, a few are likely to be seen along Dale Mabry at least early in the week.)
Couldn't the NFL stage an open practice, or a walkthrough, or something? The NCAA does that for basketball tournaments, and for free, but we're confident the NFL could find a way to charge.
How badly do some people want to go Sunday? A Pittsburgh area man named Jack used craigslist.org to make this offer: his two season tickets to ALL 2009 Steelers home games (valued at $780 apiece), and the right to buy postseason tickets at face value, for two tickets to this one game. "Still looking," he e-mailed Sunday. E-mail him back at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sounds like a nice warm and fuzzy sendoff rally at the Phoenix airport at 8:15 this morning — speeches, cheerleaders and probably some breakfast burritos and lattes. Why do we think that if they did the same in Pittsburgh at the same time it would involve a shot and a beer?
Want to know what the rest of the sports world thinks of a Tampa Super Bowl? Here's an excerpt from the New York Daily News, not unlike many of the other things that will be written this week:
"The running theory goes that football and male sports fans will generate plenty of paying customers for strip joints, something that Tampa is definitely not lacking. But even the mammary meccas are taking a hit."
Scariest words, by far, we read on Sunday: "Ex-Buc Simeon Rice will launch his new recording label … "