Miami IS Super Bowl City. Let’ start there. It’s quantifiable. We have hosted or played in more of these ultimate big games (15) than anybody else. And we’ll be down here in our T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops braving our 70-degree winter on Sunday while the NFL distributes hand-warmers and ear muffs to freezing fans arriving for its brutally arctic outdoor Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J.
So much of the best of Super Bowl history has our stamp.
Joe Namath’s famous “guarantee” was made seated poolside in Miami. The only Perfect Season ever was by Miami. Terry Bradshaw refashioned his reputation in the Orange Bowl. Joe Montana made a career-defining drive at Joe Robbie Stadium. John Elway retired on top of the world here. Peyton Manning won his only (so far) Super Bowl here. New Orleans celebrated its symbolic triumph over Hurricane Katrina here.
Now, though, we don’t know when we’ll be involved in this annual spectacle again, and that makes Super Bowl City sad.
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Miami last hosted the game in 2010 and won’t be in the running to host another one until at least 2019. See, we have relied on the salesmanship of our weather and being a cosmopolitan, wonderfully diverse destination resort, a city so many folks from elsewhere save all year to visit on vacation. Alas, the NFL wants all that AND stadium upgrades, the getting of which have proved problematic.
Miami could always get back into the Super Bowl mix, of course, via the Dolphins qualifying for the game. But that sadly has proved even more problematic. Miami last played on this stage in 1985, back when Dan Marino was a pup, and the franchise has proved in the decades since just how fortunate the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks should feel on this Super Bowl Sunday (even as they are shivering).
So what does Super Bowl City do when bereft of a Super Bowl?
I mean besides work on our tans, sip piña coladas and cheer LeBron James and the champion Heat?
Well, we take solace that every Super Bowl — no matter who’s in it or where it’s played – takes a little piece of Miami along for the ride.
You can take the game from us, but you cannot take us from the game.
Look around for little shades and whispers of Miami. You needn’t look far.
Broncos star quarterback Peyton Manning has a place down here. That’s right. LeBron took his talents to South Beach. Peyton takes his relaxation in Miami Beach. (Peyton also considered signing with the Dolphins in free agency before choosing Denver, but let’s not go there. Too painful).
One of Manning’s protectors is starting tackle Orlando Franklin, who played at the University of Miami. Denver’s top receiver Wes Welker, of course, played for the Dolphins in 2004-06. Backup cornerback Kayvon Webster is Opa-locka born, from Miami Pace High.
Seattle reps Miami, too. Seahawks backup tackle Caylin Hauptmann will be only the second player from Florida International ever to appear in a Super Bowl. Coach Pete Carroll, while with the Jets, once infamously directed a choke sign at the Dolphins bench. (See, we disliked Carroll long before it became trendy!). Seattle receivers coach Kippy Brown was on the Dolphins staff in 1996-99. And defensive assistant coach Marquand Manuel is Miami-born and out of Miami Senior High.
The Seahawks’ official mascot, Blitz? Miami all the way!
The man behind Seattle’s buffed bird is Miami native Ryan Asdourian, a Microsoft executive whose alter ego was honed in a previous incarnation as Albert the Alligator while at the University of Florida.
(Hey, would I lie about that?)
Now here is the biggest example, at least literally, of Miami’s tie to this Super Bowl:
The floating “Bud Light Hotel” docked this week on the west side of Manhattan that has been host to 4,000 guests? Underneath all that temporary re-branding you’d find the brand new Norwegian Getaway cruise ship. Norwegian is Miami-based. The Getaway was christened at PortMiami. The Miami Dolphins cheerleaders are the ship’s official “godmothers.”
(Who knew cruise ships even had godmothers?)
The Getaway is all Miami-themed, right down to the Art Deco colors, tropical motif, mojitos and Cuban food at the buffet.
Can I tell you how much it delights the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau that freezing-cold New York/New Jersey Super Bowl visitors are escaping to their warmth and relaxation this week aboard a Miami cruise ship?
This is the wheelhouse. New York is Miami’s No. 1 “feeder market,” with around 1.8 million visitors here each year.
If that cruise ship didn’t remind New Yorkers why that number of visitors is so high, GMCVB president Bill Talbert will be happy to.
“I’ll have on my bathing suit watching the Super Bowl on my patio next to my pool,” Talbert said this week, smiling. “It’ll be 70 degrees, and I’ll probably be sipping Miami rum and wearing an ‘It’s So Miami’ T-shirt. But I will not be wearing sunglasses, because it’ll be evening.”
Even Terry Bradshaw, who won a Super Bowl in Miami and now is on the pregame show of the Fox network broadcasting Sunday’s game, doesn’t get placing a Super Bowl in snowy climes.
“I’d rather we had the game where it is warm and I could sneak off and play golf,” he said this week.
Dan Marino: “It should be in Miami every year. You work so hard to get [to the Super Bowl], and then for weather to be a factor, that’s tough.”
Curmudgeon Mike Ditka, more blunt, calls the NY/NJ Super Bowl “a big mistake” and “stupid.”
I thought the great Don Shula had the perfect one-syllable reply when first told the big game had been awarded to New Jersey.
“Why!?” he said.
Why Miami wants back into the Super Bowl mix should be obvious.
“You can debate the numbers on the economic impact all day long, but hosting a Super Bowl is priceless media coverage,” said the GMCVB’s Talbert. “It’s a week-long infomercial. “
Fans attending Super Bowl-related events this week on either side of the Hudson River have been handed hand-warmers and ear muffs by NFL personnel, hedges against frostbite. After a concert at Liberty State Park by the Goo Goo Dolls, lead singer Johnny Rzeznik told the crowd, “Let’s do this again, but next time in July.”
Or, in Miami.