Super Bowl Sunday came in like a lion and went out like a lion.
The big game surpassed all expectations for excitement and entertainment out here in the great Lone Star State, and even though the New England Patriots are the National Football League’s ultimate champions, it was the city of Houston that I believe came out on top.
For the most part …
Celebrities arrived en masse on Saturday. Unfortunately, the local news media made it a sport of reporting celebrity sightings, sending so many gawkers (and P. Diddy look-alikes) to the Galleria Mall that management closed early for safety’s sake -- it was the right move.
I saw Justin Timberlake (search) make his way through a sea of thousands of fans who rushed him for autographs. What he was doing in a crowded mall on a Saturday night before the Super Bowl, I have no idea. Grrr!
But that was a tame scene compared to Janet Jackson’s Gucci shopping spree. I asked one rubber-necker standing at least 10-deep back from the store who was inside? She said she didn’t know. So I asked then why bother?
“Because I want to see somebody famous,” she said. Grrr!
At the other end of the mall, a very athletic man was signing autographs for a slew of people. I asked who he was. He told me he was neither an athlete nor a celebrity. In fact, he said, he was a local businessman and somebody mistook him for Ty Law (search), so he signed a football as a joke. Big mistake.
Apparently it didn’t occur to any of the fans that Ty Law would not be hanging out in a mall the night before the Super Bowl! Grrr!
But the shameless celebrity watching didn’t end there. At the big game I ended up sitting right beneath some media heavies like Bill O’Reilly (singing along during Toby Keith and Willie Nelson’s pre-game performance), Dan Rather, Mel Karmazin and Les Moonves, the president of CBS. People strained their necks looking up at them.
My seat was right behind rapper Jay Z (search). He was quiet and pretty much minding his own business. He even held up his flag with the rest of us when girlfriend Beyonce Knowles (search) belted out the national anthem. She joined him a few minutes later, and the entire 310 section was abuzz to the point where her security detail had to ask people to stop taking pictures of her and to watch the game! Grrr!
“I was nervous up there, definitely,” Beyonce told me after I congratulated her on a job well done. If anybody wonders if she’s that beautiful in person -- she is. Her stylist Ty Hunter lent me his Sidekick mini-computer to check out the latest headlines on Foxnews.com.
Heading to the bathroom, I made my way through the club level at Reliant Stadium and I noticed a lot of people were sitting on couches, watching the game on big-screen TVs, when it was happening live right out the window. Next time stay home and let your ticket go to a real fan! Grrr!
And another thing, why do stadiums pipe in the radio broadcast of events and not the TV broadcasts? Not for anything, but I don’t want to hear Jim Grey on Westwood One radio when I can hear the premiere team of Greg Gumbel (search) and Phil Simms (search) from the big broadcast.
When the naked streaker hit the field, people cheered when he was flattened by a Patriot special teams player. However, the incident was a bit unsettling. I kept wondering if the moron had been killed. I heard later the streaker is a fixture at sporting events around the world -- albeit a small one. Grrr!
And speaking of fixtures … walking along downtown Main Street after kicking some field goals at the very cool NFL Experience -- where kids and adults can get a feel for what it’s like to play professional football -- I noticed the Times Square fixture “The Naked Cowboy” strumming his guitar and charging five bucks for the privilege of taking a picture with him. Business must be pretty good if he’s traveling to event locations -- then again, it’s probably too cold in NYC for his skimpy outfit. Grrr!
Public transportation is very good in Houston. Between buses and the light rail system, one can pretty much get around the entire city for $2 a day. That’s very good, considering Houston is the fourth-largest city in the nation.
What really Grrr!s me however is the lack of signage indicating where the street ends and the rail track begins. Heading to the Taste of the NFL event -- a charity event where Tribeca Grill’s Drew Nieporent joined a dozen other great chefs from all the NFL host cities for a food tasting of their respective restaurants -- my buddy Joe Long from CBS News and I practically pulled onto the tracks to ask a police officer for directions. The cop nearly had a heart attack waving us from the track, and there was a train heading in our direction. Grrr!
Later we met up with Michelle Gumbel (sportscaster Greg’s daughter) at the ultra-exclusive Playboy “Heaven and Hell” party, where we ran into Brian Kilmeade and "FOX and Friends" producer Ron Messer, who were working on a TV piece. Actress Shannon Elizabeth (search) and her husband, director Joe Reitman, Paris and Nikki Hilton, a member of RUN D.M.C. and Patrick Ewing (search) were all in attendance.
The party itself was pretty cool, but outside on the red carpet somebody set up bleachers and charged $100 tickets so people could see the celebs as they walked in. Listen folks, they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you. Grrr!
Some Grrr!s in brief:
Males over the age of 16 should not wear football jerseys with their favorite player’s name on it in public. It’s just wrong. Grrr!
People who eat the free food or take the free T-shirt, no matter how bad the food or ugly the shirt -- just because it’s free. Grrr!
What is so special about an autograph anyway? If it’s not on a check, it’s probably worthless. Grrr!
As far as the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake “equipment malfunctioning” -- where Janet’s breast was briefly exposed to the world -- does anybody think the kids at MTV who were producing that show didn’t somehow know something bizarre would happen? After the Madonna/Britney kiss, it’s a wonder parent company Viacom doesn’t send in the adults to produce the high-profile shows. Grrr!
For the most part however, I can’t complain too much. The game was awesome. The Houston hospitality was great (although finding an open restaurant after the game was extremely challenging).
Houston did the Lone Star State proud.
More of your Grrr!s next time. Congratulations to New England and Carolina and thank you to the NFL for putting on a great show (at least during the week leading up to the game), and for a great game.
Mike Straka is the project manager for FOX News' Web operations and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine" (Sundays 11 p.m. on FNC), a producer on "Sunday Best" (Sundays 9 p.m. on FNC), and as a reporter and columnist for Foxnews.com. Straka appeared in the film "Analyze This" and was an actor in the long-running Off-Broadway hit "Tony n' Tina's Wedding."