Some people have tickets to the Super Bowl, and some people have Super Tickets. These last include the few dozen friends of Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke on his "Super Bowl Safari."
They are his guests on the Pan Am 747 jetliner he chartered to fly them (and the players' wives and the Redskinettes) to San Diego, his guests at the Hyatt Islandia hotel there, his guests at several grand parties before and after the game, his guests in his box at the game, and his guests for the flight home.
"It's great fun," said local developer and horseman Randy Rouse as he waited to board the flight at Dulles Airport yesterday. "It's laid on in such an overwhelming manner." Rouse's wife Michele was wearing a fur coat and a tractor cap that said "Doug Williams/A Touch of Class."
No one knows -- or at least no one's saying -- how much this is all costing Cooke (one insider said Cooke told him the plane alone cost $110,000) but there was little guilt evident among the crowd. Forbes magazine listed him as the 49th richest American last year with an estimated net worth of $600 million, but The Washingtonian magazine boosted the estimate to a cool billion.
In this case money does seem to have bought a well-organized party, if the preliminaries are any indication. Those who accepted the telephoned invitation received a follow-up in the mail a few days later with a list of instructions, liberally punctuated with the word "special."
"Drive to the hourly/valet entrance," began Cooke's directions on getting to the plane. "Be sure to get a parking ticket and get it validated by a special attendant at the ticket machine ... There will be special attendants along the way to guide you to a special reserved area. Your car will be well-protected and ready for you to pick up on your return."
Once on the plane, he wrote, "you will be served hors d'oeuvres, lunch and cocktails. There will be an open bar, video, a movie and fun galore."
In the area of attire, Cooke suggested "A. Casual. B. Evening: Less than casual, but not much."
The 75-year-old host was already on the West Coast, reportedly ensconced with his latest flame, Mary Rubloff, the widow of a Chicago real estate magnate. Rubloff, who is in her early fifties, is a former model who was married for seven years to Arthur Rubloff, 30 years her senior. Cooke's estranged wife Suzanne, 31, gave birth to a daughter earlier this week. Cooke's son John, 46, and his two children joined the crowd on the plane. Which also included:
Mayor Marion Barry, traveling with a briefcase "full of work" but without wife Effi, who was occupied with an exam and the death of Dorsey Moore, their son's godmother. (Effi Barry is enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, working toward a master's degree in public health and administration, Barry said.)
"I have it on good authority that it will not snow, and if it does it will not be more than an inch and we'll have no problems with that," said Barry, who was wearing a blue blazer and a Redskins cap. (He just happened to be in Pasadena at the Super Bowl last January when Washington was immobilized by a heavy snow.)
Cooke has been threatening to move the Redskins out from under Barry's mayoral jurisdiction unless the city antes up a new 75,000-seat stadium, which the District's financial experts say the city can't afford. Barry has ordered a study of the situation.
Presumably Barry was not seated next to publisher Bill Regardie, who was also on the plane. Regardie recently called Barry's management "a cancer" on the city. And the lead story in the latest issue of his magazine is titled "The NFL and the Mob." Have a nice trip, Bill.
Former senator and secretary of state Edmund Muskie, who is one of the regulars in Cooke's box, and one of the few who made the owner's-box transition from former majority shareholder Edward Bennett Williams' reign over the Redskins to Cooke's. "It's so much more fun than watching it on television," Muskie said. "I like the noise, the color, the camaraderie. If I watch it in my living room I fall alseep. Unless the Redskins are playing, of course."
Muskie said he was not the kind of fan who jumps up and down and yells. "I don't yell," he said. "Despite my fabled temper."
Columnist Carl Rowan, who is a Cooke regular as well as a longtime holder of 13 season tickets. "We're going to whup 'em," he said. "This is one of the fun times of a lifetime. Consider the fact the Redskins have gone to the Super Bowl three times in the last six years. A lot of teams have never gone."
There were people from the business community, like John Hechinger, high-powered lawyers like William Shea of New York (Shea Stadium is named after him), journalists like Lou Cannon of The Washington Post and some from the horsey world around Cooke's Middleburg, Va., estate.
"There's been an influx of the Middleburg crowd in the last few years," said former senator Eugene McCarthy. "All the women wear hats." McCarthy, a regular in Cooke's box, is scheduled to give a poetry reading in San Diego.
It's hard to know just what the secret is to becoming one of the in crowd that frequents Cooke's box. A number of the media people said they had not met the millionaire before he invited them to a game, but had written or broadcast something that intrigued him.
Channel 7's Renee Poussaint did a series on Cooke in l984 and was invited to attend that year's Super Bowl in Tampa a few weeks later; she and her husband, Temple University law professor Henry Richardson, were invited again this year. Rowan said he wrote a column several years ago that was critical of the team's owners and Cooke called him.
"We had an interesting discussion and have been friends ever since," said Rowan. "I wouldn't cross the picket line during the last strike and we had a friendly discussion about that too."
Novelist and journalist Aaron Latham and his wife, CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl, were also invited to their first game without having met Cooke before.
"When we walked in, he said, 'You wrote 'Crazy Sundays: F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood,' " Latham said. " 'And you dedicated it to your sister.' I was impressed. Apparently Fitzgerald is one of the passions of his life."
Now Latham and Stahl are among the box regulars, with Stahl often seated next to Cooke, who at RFK Stadium always takes the leftmost seat in the three-tiered owner's box. Stahl hosts "Face the Nation" on Sundays and may not be able to make the Super Bowl, Latham said. But he and their daughter were on the plane.
According to several insiders, it's not a particularly riotous group. After all, some of the regulars have been football fans for longer than many of the players have been alive. Muskie is 73, McCarthy 71, Rouse 71, Judge John Sirica 84, broadcaster John Charles Daly 73. While Cooke paces during the game, and embraces some of the women after a good play, the gang admits to only a moderate amount of yelling and screaming.
"I yell and scream," protested lawyer Shea, who is 80 and once owned part of the Redskins with Cooke. "The last play of the Vikings game was a direct result of my yelling."
Former senator Paul Laxalt didn't make the Super Bowl Shuttle, but planned to join the crowd in San Diego on his way back from Taiwan. And at least two regulars were not able to make it. Restaurateur Duke Zeibert was able to transfer his plane seats (he has his own season tickets) to his son Randy and his wife. And writer Larry L. King will be watching the game on television because his play "The Night Hank Williams Died" opens at the New Playwrights' Theatre on Tuesday and he has a small part in it.
"Hell, I didn't have enough faith in the Redskins when we scheduled this," King said. "I haven't missed a home game in four or five years." He too was invited to Cooke's box after the owner read a story of King's in The Washington Post that described his passion for the Redskins.
Cooke greeted the plane in San Diego, where it taxied to a separate area to unload, thus saving the passengers from the tedium of waiting for baggage. The crowd was noticeably more jolly than it had been at Dulles, having enjoyed steak, salmon, champagne and other beverages on board.
Rowan supplied lyrics for a group sing-along, said disembarking passengers. One song was called "Bye Bye Broncos," sung to the tune of "Bye Bye Blackbird." It went, in part, like this:
"Pack up all your cares and woes, adios amigos/ Bye Bye Broncos/ Mann and Manley search for you, Olkewicz and Dave Butz too/ Bye Bye Broncos."
And so on.
Everyone seemed prepared to heed the final words on Cooke's invitation:
"You are one of the Redskins' greatest fans, so proudly enjoy yourself to the limit this glorious weekend, and root like Billy-Be-Damned for our Redskins to beat the living bejeebers out of the Denver Broncos. We are on our way."
Staff writer Tom Sherwood contributed to this report.