My Super Bowl memories: Hanging out with Willard Scott

Willard Scott, naked people, Paul McCartney, The Weather Channel, an obscure long-snapper, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and all-night typing.

You have your Super Bowl memories.

I have mine.

I went to six Super Bowls, enough to have nice memories and to remind me that the circus can get old.

These VI days, I’ll recall each of them:

Super Bowl XXVIII, Atlanta, 1994:

The first, I was working for Cohn & Wolfe, a PR firm in Atlanta. We were hired by the Super Bowl Host Committee and by the NFL Experience. Part of my responsibility, I would go to one of the conference championship sites and meet with local media, to help ease their way to Atlanta the following week. The championship games were in Dallas and Buffalo.

“McCarter, I just want to remind you that you’ve been here less than two years and I’ve been here for 10,” my co-worker Paul Ellen said before the championship games.

Super Bowl XXVIII logo

“Yeah, so what does that mean?” I asked.

“Dress warm,” he said.

I bought a ticket to Buffalo.

All I remember about that was a foot of snow in the rental car parking lot, a great party at Jim Kelly’s restaurants with – naturally – great Buffalo wings, nice media folks at the Buffalo paper and checking out of the hotel just as O.J. Simpson was in the next line to check in.

Cold weather being the way it was, I’m sure he was wearing gloves.

Back in Atlanta, our Cohn & Wolfe team had pretty much done all that was required for the Host Committee, which was led by Leeman Bennett, the former Falcons’ head coach and a wonderful gentleman.

It was on to the NFL Experience, the interactive theme park that was set up at the Georgia Dome. To say some of the clients were high maintenance is to say the Atlantic Ocean is damp.

A few days before the game, they actually tried to fire us because they didn’t think the NFL Experience was getting enough attention and wouldn’t draw a crowd. By Saturday, we were having to make panic calls to Atlanta media, asking them to tell the public not to show up, that it was oversold.

Friday morning, I had to get up at 4 a.m. and hop on MARTA to go to the Georgia Dome, so I could give Willard Scott an NFL Experience cap to wear on the air. He was nice enough, and Katie Couric even went out of her way to say good morning. Bryant Gumbel never looked up from his scripts.

Our team spent much of Friday and Saturday at the VIP entrance of the NFL Experience, giving guided tours. Seniority, again, cost me. Somebody else got to escort Tanya Tucker – she was performing at halftime – through the building, and another co-worker escorted “Downtown” Julie Brown, then an MTV diva.

On the subject of divas, one of M.C. Hammer’s bodyguards threatened to kick one of my coworker’s butt when something didn’t go smoothly for his Hammer-ness on his tour.

Me? Well, I’ll always have Willard Scott.

The postscript: I went to the game, with free tickets from our CEO. I caught myself almost falling asleep in the third quarter. I caught MARTA as the fourth quarter started and was home in time for the final play.

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