DALLAS — A writer's guide to the Super Bowl experience, on an 800-word budget.
Southwest Airlines — Nine hours, flight plus delay time. And that's just the Chicago-Kansas City leg. Announcements and more announcements. Joe the steward quells a passenger revolt with humor. Claims he's even better in hostage situations.
Kansas City International — A sparse place with a worldly name. An abandoned mall where airplanes land.
Todd Haley — Head man of the Chiefs, also trapped in KCI. Dressed way down, like a skateboard rat. The fashion opposite of good ol' Hank Stram. Sportcoats come cheap these days, Todd … Filene's Basement … Stein Mart.
Headline News — Dominates the airport TVs. Pretty announcers with sing-song voices, giving info in bedtime story form. News for preschoolers.
Texas DOT — Overmatched. Snow and sleet win in a rout. Dirt and sand and chemical de-icers spread on the roads. The result is muddy, sandy ice. Accidents aplenty, mostly little ones.
Turkey Buzzards — Cathartes aura. Crews spotted working on a roadside carcass, highway 30E. Efficient. On the job. Fastest cleanup in all of Texas.
Weatherford, Texas — Located 45 miles west of kickoff, just out of reach of the Super Bowl gouge. Rooms in the $119 range, plus breakfast. Fresh, crispy waffles in the shape of Texas. A secret, but not anymore.
Angelo's — Locals who like you point you that way. Pork rib BBQ, Texas style — half on the bone, half off. Elk heads and antelope and African oryx stare in disapproval as you dine. Good enough for Roethlisberger and his offensive line. Skeet, the owner, will show you his pics with them.
Kincaid's — You go for the burgers. "Cowtown style" means grilled onions and jalapenos. Green cinder blocks and fresh buns. Onion rings the way they're meant to be. On the wall an autographed photo of Kent Nix — career backup, former Steeler, former Bear. At least give us Clint Longley and Glenn Carano. Former TCU guy? OK, makes sense.
Texas folk — As friendly as you hear they are. If they don't say hello, their eyes do.
Dealey Plaza — Kennedy's last ride. Hallowed, dark history. Conspiracy ace Robert Groden is there, hawking books off a sad, little table. Oliver Stone's a fan, but Groden obviously has hit hard times.
Angry Middle-Eastern protesters scar up the Grassy Knoll with chants that don't rhyme. One, two, three, four — throw Mubarak out the window. Freedom of speech, say the cops. Disrespectful to America, I say. Take it somewhere else, folks.
Pro Football Writers dinner — The Dallas Starlight Room. A monument to the 1940s, minus the GIs. An evening spent with a pair of British sport correspondents, Simon and Nick. Sure you're not in Duran Duran?
Foreign opinions. Tom Brady: "Splendid."
Roethlisberger: "A bit of a cad."
Peyton Manning: "A flat-track bully." Huh? "A cricket term … a batsmen who thrives only in perfect conditions." Got it.
Bill O'Reilly — Best of the Fox pregame segments. Tough questions for El Presidente. "Mr. President — Are you moving toward the center politically?"
"No," Barack laughs.
"Who wins today — Green Bay or the Steelers?"
"I'm just hoping for a good game."
Sounds like the center to me.
The Death Star — As big as they said it was. X-wing fighters circle above, hauling their banners. Han Solo spotted inside, on the big screen, next to Calista Flockhart. No sight of the Millennium Falcon.
Collins Street — A Death Star main artery. Bible thumpers with Radio Shack speaker setups abound. Brimstone and fire, and the whole place is going to hell. Some entertaining, most ramble on. Like the prophet's row scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian. Minus the gourd.
Fox Pregame, part II — Unbalanced reunion of the early 1990s Cowboys core. Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, Jimmy Johnson … and, of course, Jerry Jones. Jimmy and Jerry express their love for each other … Irvin gets in a few words … Aikman, who threw all the passes, is essentially ignored.
Black Eyed Peas — Located between the pinto beans and steamed corn in Colter's BBQ buffet. Right there on Collins. The brisket is your best bet.
Pittsburgh Steelers — Pass rush quiet. Secondary diced to ribbons, despite the presence of the AP Defender of the Year, Troy Polamalu. Even Troy doesn't understand the voting.
Green Bay Packers — Winners of six elimination tuffs in a row. All-pass, no-run formula tricky and not recommended for amateurs. When Pittsburgh pushed, they pushed back.
Turnovers — A means of suicide. Buffalo choked on nine in SB XXVII; Eight killed Denver in XII. It only took three to RIP the Steelers on Sunday.
The Super Bowl — It someday will be too big, even for Texas. Then where will they put it? Hopefully outer space.
Tom Danyluk is an award-winning freelance writer based in Chicago. His book on pro football, "The Super '70s," is available at Amazon.com. You can contact Tom at Danyluk1@yahoo.com.