There were beautiful women, but Miami wasn't model city

Super Bowl Xli

February 06, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

MIAMI -- I'm boarding a plane for Baltimore right now and I'm already getting nostalgic.

And cold.

There's a reason they usually put the Super Bowl in a warm-weather city instead of, say, Chicago. Because it's tough to charge $10 for icy umbrella drinks at the beachfront bars along Lake Michigan this time of year, and it gives fans from the colder climes an added incentive to head south.

I'm sure a lot of people think it would be great if the NFL chose Baltimore to host the big game someday, but I need only one word to explain why that's never going to happen and probably never should:

Volleypalooza.

You're probably saying to yourself something like, "C'mon, that isn't even a real word," but that's because you have not been in sunny South Florida shedding your semantic inhibitions during a week of Super Bowl pre-game activities that have about as much to do with football as sexy swimsuit models have to do with the great journalism that appears in Sports Illustrated the other 51 weeks of the year.

Which, in a highly generalized sort of way, brings us back to Volleypalooza, one of the big NFL-sanctioned events that took place at Miami Beach over the weekend.

They brought in 350 top fashion models from around the world to play in a beach volleyball tournament. They obviously felt that 350 extremely beautiful women, presumably in skimpy bikinis, would be a big hit during Super Bowl week, though I can tell you from personal viewing experience that there previously was no shortage of extremely beautiful women in the South Beach area.

They, and I'll admit right now that I have no idea who I'm referring to, knew exactly what they were doing. The Super Bowl brings in all kinds of people, from sports celebrities to movie stars, but mostly this year it brought in thousands of drooling thirtysomething Bears fans who didn't mind finally having a legitimate reason to drool.

No doubt, there are plenty of Ravens fans who would love to slobber over beautiful supermodels, too, but it's the rare February weekend that people in Maryland don swimsuits at the beach, unless the NFL wants to become a major sponsor of the Polar Bear Plunge.

(Just a side note: If there were international supermodels at this year's Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, I'm sure that WBAL talk show host Chip Franklin would have gone all the way in instead of wimpily wading in up to his waist while real men like radio producer Jared Ruderman and me fully immersed themselves in the icy Chesapeake.)

I will say that Baltimore would have handled the logistics better, though that might seem like faint praise if you've tried to get to a Ravens or Orioles game on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway lately.

Miami police closed a portion of Biscayne Boulevard on Friday night, creating such gridlock that it took more than an hour to travel the four blocks from the freeway to the headquarters hotel. And on game day, poor planning turned the main offramp going toward Dolphin Stadium into a parking lot. The 90-minute tie-up forced fully hydrated Bears fans to abandon their cars and buses in search of trees and bushes.

It crossed my mind that if the same people had been in charge of traffic here in Baltimore in 1984, the Colts never would have made it out of town.

You'd think the area would be a little better prepared, this being Miami's record-tying ninth Super Bowl and all, but putting on such a mammoth event is not a perfect science. The area already has huge traffic issues, so the arrival of an additional 100,000 people - many of them still driving around aimlessly in overdue rental cars - certainly didn't help.

The weather didn't cooperate, either, drenching the sold-out crowd from pre-game show to post-game trophy ceremony. And if there wasn't enough precipitation, halftime headliner Prince closed his set with "Purple Rain."

I guess nobody told him the Ravens didn't make it.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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