After a whirlwind trip out to Phoenix, Ariz. to make the rounds on Radio Row at Super Bowl XXLII I have returned. The buzz surrounding the petition to allow tailgating at the Super Bowl has been amazing. With a little bit of help from the guys at Between the Lines with Kevin Kietzman on Sports Radio 810 WHB in Kansas City I was able to land a day pass into the media center and radio row at the Phoenix Convention Center. That opportunity afforded me the chance to promote the petition even more and to hopefully gain more exposure for not only the petition but for TailgatingIdeas.com.
I was fortunate enough to know some friends that live in a suburb of Phoenix and they were in town the days I was going to be in Phoenix. I stayed the night with them and headed to the convention center at about 7:15 am because the credential offices would not open until 8:00 am. After parking and going to the wrong convention center (Phoenix has two convention halls, both within walking distance of each other.) I found the right building and picked up my day pass. Right from the moment I walked into the pass office I knew I would be competing for air time with some heavy hitters. Standing behind me in line to pick up his pass was NFL Hall of Fame Inductee, Kellen Winslow. In front of me waiting for his credential was Jared Fogle. That would be Jared, the Subway Guy. (The NFL even misspelled his name on his credential badge and spelled his last name ‘Fogel’)
After getting my day pass I headed down to radio row to say hello to the guys from Kansas City and to thank them for getting me in. I did just that and then roamed around to all the different tables of the radio stations and dropped off a flier I had printed up explaining the tailgating ban at the Super Bowl. Many of the radio hosts and show producers agreed with me that the NFL’s ban on tailgating at the Super Bowl was bogus but unfortunately they had a number of guests already lined up for interviews. I am a realist and I understood that a radio host is not going to bump a former or current NFL player off the air in order to interview me instead. From the looks of the room, there were a lot of players there that were definitely going to be getting more air time than me.
Apparently corporate America has discovered that if you sponsor a current or former NFL player to promote your product on radio row during the Super Bowl it is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying advertising slots. Marshall Faulk was making the rounds courtesy of the Avocado Growers Association. Faulk was encouraging radio listeners to eat more guacamole on Super Bowl Sunday. Jerome Bettis was promoting Promise Buttery Spread, Kellen Winslow was promoting Disneyland and a host of other players had their own promotional agendas. Being up against former and current players to fight for air time I knew it would be long day. Guys like Jonathan Ogden, Antonio Cromartie, Lynn Swan, Shawne Merriman, broadcaster Jim Grey, Shannon Sharpe, Terrell Davis and even Miss Nevada among others were all on radio row hawking something. I was promoting something too but in the grand scheme of things would a sweaty radio jock rather listen to me talk about tailgating at the Super Bowl or talk to an NFL Hall of Famer?
Once I handed out my informational fliers and spoke to a number of radio people it was now time to play the waiting game. I broke out my laptop, grabbed some good old NFL high speed internet Wi-Fi and proceeded to check emails, read my RSS subscriptions and surfed the internet for a while. All this while waiting for my phone to ring.
The only radio station I did land on was the one that had originally gotten me my day pass, WHB AM 810 in Kansas City. Going on the air was a big thrill of course but while out there I was also able to get the Super Bowl tailgating message to two different newspapers. Just by being in the media center and waiting for my phone to ring I was able to meet Janet Zink, a talented writer for the St. Petersburg Times newspaper. She was doing an advance article on the increased security the Super Bowl employs because Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 will be held in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. I overheard her working on the story, introduced myself, informed her of my petition and tied it into her security story. I bumped into her later in the day and she mentioned to me that she was going to include me and mention the petition in her story. You can check out her article entitled, Super Bowl, super security online.
In addition to the article published in the St. Pete Times, the Super Bowl petition effort was also mentioned in the Arizona Republic. Reporter Eric Graf did a piece on the NFL’s inflexibility on the Super Bowl tailgating ban and you can read his article entitled, NFL won’t bend Super Bowl tailgating rules online as well.
All in all, the trip to Phoenix to generate more interest in the Super Bowl tailgating petition may not have been a rousing success but I was able to generate more media interest in this cause than if I chose to stay home. The mere fact that the NFL league office called me to clarify their stance on the Super Bowl tailgating ban was a major victory in and amongst itself. You wouldn’t think a huge corporate entity like the National Football League would even bother dealing with some lowly tailgating blogger like me, but they did. To that end I give them my utmost respect. On the flip side of the coin, I still disagree with their decision to ban tailgating at the Super Bowl and hope they reconsider this policy for Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Fla. next year.