JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Can you feel the love?
I'm sure Eagles fans wouldn't agree, but Super Bowl XXXIX (search) — from a Jacksonville standpoint — was a huge success.
I have to admit that in the week leading up to the Big Game, all I heard about was how bad Jacksonville (search) was. It was too small. The restaurants weren't prepared for the influx of fans. The highways were jammed.
But I've got to tell you, don't believe anything you heard. All it takes in any Super Bowl city is a little planning. Leave your hotel early, and you've got no problem. The cops were great. The event staff was great. The hospitality was great.
All of that being said, don't think that I had nothing to Grrr! about.
Mostly the major Grrrs were from people out to see celebrities. Just like last year in Houston, celebrity spotting was an event. Greg Gumbel from "NFL Today" was bombarded for autographs, as was Hall of Famer Dan Marino. They really are just people, folks.
But not to be outdone by the Oblivions, I did my fair share of celebrity hunting, albeit with a cameraman in tow. I caught up with Gene Hackman — who, when I asked what an actor of his stature usually does on Super Bowl Sunday, replied with a laugh: "I go to the game." Also in town, actor Will Smith, whose date movie "Hitch" opens this Friday; Oscar host Chris Rock and his "The Longest Yard" co-star Adam Sandler.
And even though "FOX and Friends" co-host and best-selling author Brian Kilmeade is in town — and will be in Orlando doing a book signing on Wednesday — the celebrity scene was otherwise pretty tame.
Friday night I interviewed the great Alicia Keys, who brought down Alltel Stadium singing a duet with dearly departed Ray Charles (don't we just love our dead celebrities?). "They" sang "America the Beautiful." She was nervous but didn't think she'd have a problem "channeling" Charles' spirit.
"I don't think I need to channel him," she said. "I know that he'll be there. It will be like two pianists coming together." The multiple Grammy winner/nominee did not disappoint.
As far as the fans go, I must say, fans of the now "dynasty" Patriots are getting a little too used to winning. Before Deion Branch was named MVP, the stadium was practically empty. Eagles fans definitely outnumbered Pats fans here in Jax.
Some Jax highlights: The Riverfront downtown — it is family-oriented, although I don't recommend anybody looking for family fun while hitting Jacksonville Beach. It's a little like Bourbon Street East — and an unlikely highlight — the Jacksonville Police and Sheriff departments.
The uniformed presence was awesome, and I've never experienced such nice cops in my life ... seriously. Hats off to Jacksonville. They under-promised and over-delivered.
I loved McCartney's halftime show. Being there, watching this legend take the stage, was a very special event, and I feel sorry for whoever has to follow his class act in next year's halftime show. People of all ages and colors banded together, held hands and joined the Beatle great in "Hey Jude" and "Get Back."
The only thing that could have made his performance better was if Ringo Starr took the stage to play the drums.
Cadillac and Go-Carts
For four years running, Cadillac has been the official car of the Super Bowl, awarding the game's MVP (Deion Branch this time) a limited-production vehicle. And in each of these years, the auto giant has sponsored a charity go-cart race, featuring various celebrities.
This year actors Owen Wilson, Regina King, "The Fast and Furious" star Paul Walker and the beautiful Katie Holmes joined entertainment reporters Tony Potts, Jon Kelly and Kevin Smith in high-performance carts that travel at speeds up to 55 mph.
It was one of the highlights of pre-game activities. Fox Sports Net's Leann Tweeden (search) was the incumbent champion; however, this year it was Potts who got the checkered flag.
"I gave her a little wave as I went by," Potts said. It was all in good fun and for a good cause. Cadillac donates $10,000 to charities.
Potts, of "Access Hollywood," is a very cool, very down-to-earth person. He gave me some interview time and also gave me some advice on celebrity broadcasting and reporting, and I appreciate it.
The only Grrring part of that event was that I wasn't racing! So, Grrr!
Grrr! Dendum: Super-Commercial
Since I was at the game I didn't get to see the commercials until I came home (thanks Mrs. Grrr! for recording it on our TiVo DVR) ... By far, the best commercial, in my opinion, was the Anheuser-Busch salute to the troops ad.
It's about time a beer commercial didn't insult the intelligence of men and the dignity of women.
See the video by clicking on the Super Bowl link above in the Video Section.
Now for Your Grrrs ...
Tom Daly in Cyber-Space: The problem is not whether "The Passion" deserved more Oscar nominations. The problem is that it would be shut out in any case because of religious intolerance by the Hollywood elite.
Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for FOXNews.com, and contributes as a features reporter on "FOX Magazine," and as a news cut-ins anchor on FOX News Channel. Mike also appeared in Analyze This. Read Mike's Bio.