Super Bowl XLIII Had Something For Everybody

TAMPA, Fla. -- Pittsburgh’s James Harrison made an interception return "for the ages!"

Moments later, Bruce Springsteen turned in one of the great halftime performances of all time.

Later, the Cardinals orchestrated an amazing comeback -- roaring back from a 13-point deficit.

And then Santonio Holmes made a sensational catch to win the game for the Steelers with just 35 seconds to play.

Not bad for a Super Bowl that everyone thought would be a snooze in every way.

And you thought we would never see a play like Manning-to-Tyree in Super Bowl XVII?

Well, Harrison's 100-yard, mind-boggling masterpiece has either surpassed that or rates a close second in the annals of pro football's ultimate game.

Moments later, "The Boss" electrified the crowd from his opening note on "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" to his closing barrage of unparalleled energy in "Glory Days."

As for the game itself, the Steelers earned their sixth Super Bowl title, the most of any franchise. And get this -- they are the only team to win championships under four presidents -- Ford, Carter, Bush and Obama.

Steelers fans soaked up every minute of it. Dressed in their signature gold and black regalia, the lunatics from "The Steel City" waved their terrible towels and screamed their lungs out. It felt like a home game at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.

NBC's "Football Night in America" crew was stationed inside the pirate ship in the Arizona end zone. And I felt shipwrecked without the Giants or Jets to cover. It's just not the same being at the big game without your local teams there. Fortunately, the ending of the game was riveting.

So it's bon voyage to Tampa, for now. But I'll be back in 10 days for that wonderful battle cry that baseball fans love.

Yankees pitchers and catchers report to George Steinbrenner Field at the end of next week. Is it too early to talk about a Subway Series?

Saturday, Jan. 31

The media is waiting for the "Boss" -- Bruce Springsteen -- to arrive outside of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Fellow band member, Stevie Van Zandt just stopped by to say that there's nothing like the idea of playing before a billion people.
It must be Super Bowl Sunday!

The halftime show is much anticipated but there is also a game to play. And I like the underdog Cardinals to win by 7. Hey, the Giants shocked the Patriots last year. Why not another upset!

The scene outside of the stadium is wild. It always is -- on Super Bowl Sunday. Quietly chaotic, I call it. And Steeler Nation dominates the color scheme. There's black and gold everywhere. One guy was wearing a pinstripe Steelers suit and he thought it was elegant. My friends, Steelers fans, are rabid and strange -- but not as wacky as Raiders fans.

This stadium is great for football but this city is too small for a Super Bowl! My cameraman, Jimmy Roberts, says the NFL should hold all Super Bowls in Los Angeles.

By the way, I hung out with Paris Hilton last night. Well sort of -- she was at the same party as me. It was Kevin Costner and Michael Strahan's Saturday Night Spectacular. And let me tell you, Paris never had a second to herself. Fans and groupies snapped pictures of her all night long. She did dance with a beer in her hand for photographers. I hope I don't qualify as paparazzi.

So let's get it on. Didn't referee Mills Lane used to say that? It's time for pro football's ultimate game -- and the winter's ultimate party.

Grab some chips and dip and a cold one -- and get ready for the last NFL game of the year. Sorry, I forgot the pro bowl next week in Hawaii.

Come to think of it -- that would be a great place for a Super Bowl!

Friday, Jan. 30

The Giants are making noise at Super Bowl XLIII, without even playing in the game.

And it's Brandon Jacobs who's playing the role that used to be reserved for Strahan and Tiki.

Jacobs said Big Blue would have gone 15-1 and won the Super Bowl this year had Plaxico Burress not shot himself in the thigh and the team in the foot -- and been suspended for his transgressions.

Friday, I chased down the bruising running back in St. Petersburg and asked him if he thought his statements were an indictment on his own play.

After all, isn't Jacobs the team MVP? Doesn't the Giants offense revolve around the power rushing attack? Don't back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons mean something?

Jacobs begged to differ with my reasoning. He said Plax "makes the offense tick." Burress, Jacobs reasoned, enables other receivers to get free in single coverage, and allows Jacobs to do his power thing.

He wants Burress back with the Giants in the worst way. Oh by the way, he should worry about himself first. Jacobs is a free agent NOW!

Also . . .

Other stories with a local twist Friday included an amazing event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Darelle Revis and Tony Richardson partnered with other players at the NFL Experience. They warmed the hearts of 12 children who were granted the wish of attending Super Bowl XLIII.

I hate the Patriots, but when I saw quarterback Matt Cassell bringing a smile to the faces of a bunch of kids, I became a New England fan -- that is for an hour at the most.

I was thinking of the old Patty Duke television show opening the other day -- "when cousins are two of a kind." Well today, I saw identical twins -- Tiki and Ronde Barber. They were involved in a Reebok promotion. I cornered the two for an interview.

You know, they sound alike and even think alike. I think Tiki is funnier. I think Ronde has a better shot at the Hall of Fame.

The weather is getting colder and the traffic is getting heavier. And the food is getting fairer by the day. That's because I ate at George Steinbrenner's favorite IHOP last night at 2:30 a.m. There's just "no time" at a Super Bowl to do anything but work and look for another party.

Thursday, Jan. 29

The Steelers and Cardinals took a back seat Thursday to "The Boss."

Bruce Springsteen, who will perform at The Bridgestone Super Bowl XLIII Halftime Show, held his first press conference in more than 20 years -- and boy did he have a blast!

Here's a sample of some of his quips.

+ "If anyone from New Jersey is here -- don't give them the microphone."

+ "We play like we're still 16."

+ "We are one of the few bands that has stayed together and stayed alive."

+ "I love my job."

The Boss could teach all of us something about passion and pride -- and about handling the media.

Practically every member of the New York media was there. And these guys were awestruck -- taking photos and acting like teenagers at a rock concert. The real concert will take place on Sunday around 8 p.m.

Eli Manning was doing a promotion for Gatorade, and for once he combed his hair. The Super Bowl XLII Most Valuable Player said last year's shocking victory by the Giants over the Patriots was accomplished because of amazing cohesiveness. Good stuff, Eli.

I ran in to Miss America, Mike Francesa, Carl Banks, Mark Malone, Damian Woody, Rich Eisen, Michael Kay, Kevin Mawae, Jay Glazer, Dick Stockton and Deion Sanders.

Derek Jeter held his golf tournament Thursday nearby. I had no time to crash it. (ED: It's not clear if that means Bruce got booted!)

Tonight after my "live shot" of course, I am heading out to the All-Madden Party. I got an invite to Kim Kardashian's and Carmen Electra's party on Saturday. Don't tell my wife!

Tampa is buzzing -- as much as this city can -- and Super Bowl Sunday is still three days away!

I will keep you in the loop. And hey, where is Strahan's Bash?

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