Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Super Bowl XXXVI

All of the little sayings turned out to be true. Third time’s a charm, defense wins championships, and they didn’t become sayings because they’re not true. In their third trip to the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots became champions, relying on the defense to get the job done. It’s not the biggest upset in Super Bowl history, but it’s up there. The Rams were considered unbeatable with an unstoppable offense and an improved defense.

Going in, the Patriots knew they had to accomplish several things to give themselves a chance to win. They had to create turnovers and turn them into points. They had to keep the Rams from getting the big play. They had to force the Rams to kick field goals when necessary, they had to control field position and they needed solid special teams play. They knew they had to do it, and they went out and did it.

It’s hard to tell if the Rams were a little off or if it was because of what the Patriots were doing. Either way, when Adam Vinitieri trotted onto the field with seven seconds to play, there was no doubt he was going to make the kick. By the way, when are coaches going to figure out that a soft defense that keeps the ball in front of you gets you beat? No time outs and just over a minute to play, the Patriots dinked the ball downfield, just enough to get in position for the winning kick. Pressure the quarterback and if you get beat, you get beat. The Rams will stay together for at least one more year, and perhaps it’s fitting that a team named the Patriots reigns as Super Bowl Champion this year.

With commercials costing “just south” of $2 million each to air on the Super Bowl broadcast, I thought they might have been a bit more creative. The Budweiser spots were pretty good. I especially liked the “Mini-Fridge” one at the beginning and the Clydesdales bowing to New York City was a nice touch. The promotion of halftime with football player looking guys dressed in frilly costumes didn’t go anywhere. The Dockers ad comparing the pants to a “little black dress” was mildly amusing. All in all, they were OK, but nothing to rave about.

Security at the Super bowl was very tight. The Secret Service was in charge of the area around the Superdome, and they were on top of everything. Uniformed, armed (M-16’s) guards were at every checkpoint. To get to any destination, even the media compound, you had to pass through several metal detectors, have your bags searched, have your credentials checked, get new credentials, get “wanded” and even patted down at least once. Every guard was cordial and professional but you had to add about an extra hour if you were going anywhere near the Dome.

At the Morial Convention Center, the site for just about every event outside of the game, the security was equally as tight. The league changed the credential procedure, and even issued two different credentials; one for the week and one for the game. Running the Super Bowl is a massive operation and the NFL knows what they’re doing. New Orleans was hosting their ninth Super Bowl, more than any other city. Even the Big Easy has changed how they do things over the years. The Convention Center is a new addition as a host site. More than 1.2 million square feet of contiguous meeting space, it housed everything from Paul Tagliabue’s state of the game address to the NFL Experience. Without a spot like that, any city has to be very creative when hosting the game.

Jacksonville’s Host Committee for Super Bowl XXXIX chose a new leader during their meeting in New Orleans. Mike Kelley, who worked on the Super Bowl in Tampa last year, will now serve as the host committee’s chief operating officer. Mike Weinstein is leaving that job in July in order to run for mayor. Kelley says that the similarities between Tampa and Jacksonville’s geography give him a head start. He plans to incorporate all parts of North Florida and South Georgia, including the beaches, to host a variety of events. The host committee received several lessons in security and planning while at the game in New Orleans.