Radio Free Montone: Not So ‘Super’ Bowls
By John Montone, 1010 WINS
(NEW YORK — 1010 WINS) – The Super Bowl or The Big Game if you are not an official sponsor has been around for XLVIII of my LX years.
I watched the first Super Bowl which wasn’t called the Super Bowl on my friend’s parents’ color TV. My friend’s father dismissed my bold prediction that the AFL Kansas City Chiefs would prevail. He was right. The Chiefs got smoked by Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. But two years later Broadway Joe did what he said he would and the Jets became the first AFL team to win the game.
I watched that one on my grandparents circular-screened black and white. Our family was late to make the switch to color TV. My father claimed they were a “gimmick.” By time my New York Football Giants finally made it to the Super Bowl in January of ’87, I was the New Jersey reporter for 1010 WINS and as such I got to cover the game — at Manny’s of Moonachie. When Mayor Koch was asked if New York City would hold a parade up the Canyon of Heroes for the Giants, he said, “Let them have it in Moon-Achee.”
Four years later, I was a city-side reporter with little seniority so I didn’t get to go to the game, but I didn’t have to go to a Jersey bar to interview fans either. And so when Scott Norwood’s last second field goal attempt went wide right giving the Giants their second Lombardi Trophy, I jumped up and down, spilled beer and screamed with my buddies. Which brings us to the 2001 Super Bowl in which the Giants unexpectedly made an appearance.
I did not go to that one either but it was decided I should watch it with the fans. So I arranged for a neighbor to throw a party which I covered. The Giants got trounced and the next morning I heard newsman Lee Harris broadcast that my assignment was a thinly veiled excuse to be able to sleep in that morning.
When the 2007 Giants made it back to the game I was dispatched to Phoenix to cover it.
I flew out on a charter full of Giants fans including my junior high school art teacher who I had to remind had failed me in eighth grade. I accepted responsibility for being a smart aleck and not taking his class very seriously. He said I got the D because I couldn’t draw a straight line. Because we applied for a credential at the very last minute, I did not get a room at the media hotel and as a result I did not have a seat on the media bus that drove other reporters through the gate into the stadium parking lot. Instead, I withdrew a wad of cash from the ATM at my motel in Scottsdale and bought a parking spot from the owner of a strip mall a healthy walk from the stadium.
Unfortunately, when I showed up at the gate with my backpack full of recorders and mixers and wires, security turned me away. Fans were not allowed to bring bags into the game. “I’m a reporter,” I protested to the security guard. “No, you’re not,” he said, “the reporters all came in on buses.”
I did manage to blow past another guard and get into the game. My assigned press seat however was in the last row of the stadium in the corner of the end zone right behind the seat reserved for Radio Uzbekistan, so I walked back down and embedded myself with some Giants fans and I got incredible tape of them gasping then exploding when Eli shucked off a few New England pass rushers and David Tyree made the only ball-on-helmet catch in Super Bowl history.
Three years later I arrived at a motel on the far outskirts of Indianapolis whose huge neon sign boasted of a “Heated Swimming Pool.” The sign neglected to mention that there was no water in the pool which I noticed even as the motel manager informed me that my “roommate” would get in the next day which is when he would bring us a cot. Poor gentle Midwesterner didn’t know what hit him. I got up close and screamed all manner of New York profanities at him including, “NO FREAKING ROOMMATE.”After that whenever he saw me coming he’d duck into his office and I’d shout, “I’d love to take a swim. Any chance we get some water in the pool?”
But he won the battle, collecting money for a room whose ceiling was splattered with a grotesque red stain as if some giant Hoosier had gotten his head blown off while standing on the bed. The game itself was another gem. I got on the media bus this time. I found some loud crazy guys from Jersey to sit with and had a perfect angle when Eli hit Mario Manningham with the sweetest pass in the history of organized pigskin.
It did take me about an hour to edit out all the cursing and swearing from the Jersey guys, but once again I had some great fan tape and I got to see my team take the trophy. On the way home the next day I remember laughing out loud on the plane, thinking –and they pay me for this?