SCIENTISTS ARE CLOSE to proving that it's impossible to watch the Super Bowl without guzzling beer, eating fatty foods and shouting out the turf wisdom accrued over the past season. They're also nearly certain that Super Bowl watchers have a chromosome-deep herding instinct that will result in millions of living-room huddles this Sunday.
And some of those herds will search out larger herds, bursting from the confines of their homes and heading down the highway for barroom rendezvous with others who want to watch the televised warfare between the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills. When these football fanatics claim their bar stools, their demands are few: Gimme TV screen with unobstructed view. Gimme free buffet, and while you're at it, gimme another beer.
If you think it's a mite crude to talk about Super Bowl grazers in herding terms, consider that Baltimore's Original Sports Bar (34 Market Place, 410-244-0135) is expecting nearly 900 people to head there to watch the game. What would you call a raucous gathering of 900 like-minded people?
The doors will open at noon this Sunday at the Original Sports Bar, so there will be plenty of time to ease into the game. The suggested $1 donation at the door will go to the Ronald McDonald House. There will be food and drink specials, an appearance by former Baltimore Colt Howard Stevens, trivia contests and games, an auction of sports memorabilia and a chance to win a color TV (meaning the winner can watch next year's game in the peace and quiet of his own home). The game itself will be blasted all around this cavernous sports bar via two big screens and 36 TV sets.
And when the game is over, you can join the rush for the door. At least that seems to be part of the Super Bowl bar phenomenon. Whether bloated, elated, worn out, broke, or all of the above, folks are ready to return home when the clock runs out.
"People leave as soon as the game is over, just like at a stadium," says John Vetter, the Original Sports Bar's operations manager.
Another downtown sports bar accustomed to big game excitement is Balls (200 W. Pratt St., 410-659-5844), which has one large video screen and 24 TV screens to make sure everybody can see the ball. This bar is even supplementing its permanent screens with a few more just to ensure you can count the yardage. There will be a free giant buffet, because a small buffet wouldn't do for the 600 or so people who have been known to pack this place. And there will be ticket giveaways to sporting events.
In Anne Arundel County, yet another mega-sports bar, Champions - The American Sports Bar (BWI Airport Marriott, 410-859-5555) will offer cheap drinks and eats for the occasion, a large screen TV, trivia contests, free popcorn and a football toss game for those still feeling physically fit after all this.
Elsewhere around town, every bar with a TV (which means virtually every bar) will become a sports bar on Super Bowl Sunday.
A brief sampling of that multitude includes the American Revolution Tavern & Rugby Pub (1818 Maryland Ave., 410-685-4665) in mid-town Baltimore, which will have happy hour prices and a free buffet. Also in mid-town, Peabody's American Grill (612 Cathedral St., 410-727-7101) in the posh Peabody Court Hotel will loosen its collar a bit for its first Super Bowl party starting at 2 p.m. that features 50-cent draft beer, half-price drinks and free hot dogs.
Over in Fells Point, the No Name Cafe (Broadway and Pratt streets, 410-327-4990) will have a no-cover Super Bowl tailgate party beginning at 2 p.m. with pizza, hot dogs, drink specials and a big screen TV.
Up in sports-mad Northeast Baltimore, The Barn (9527 Harford Road, 410-882-6182) will offer a free buffet, seafood specials and seven TV sets for your viewing pleasure. Pepper's Cafe (3539 Belair Road, 410-488-8815) will have a buffet and prizes to get you through the day without emptying your wallet. And in Towson, the Sunset Grill (825 Taylor Ave., 410-828-4650) boasts a free buffet, seafood and raw bar specials, Bud drafts for a dollar, and music by Chuck DeFontis after the game.
Out in Columbia, the sports-themed, six-screen Sneakers Saloon and Restaurant (Long Reach Village Center, 410-730-2208) will feature a free oyster and bull roast, with Miller Lite drafts yours for a dollar. And the large screen-equipped Margarita Maggie's (6490 Dobbin Center Way, 410-740-5115) will bring its Tex-Mex heritage to the game with free tacos. The pre-game festivities will start at 3 p.m., with the WHFS-FM disc jockey known as Weasel spinning progressive records for those who want to be hip to moves on the dance floor as well as on the football field.