It is known as Super Bowl XV, but today, the Mellow Yellow Bowl seemed far more appropriate after the Oakland Raiders defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10, for the championship of the National Football League.
They tied a yellow ribbon -- well, actually, it was, made of yellow canvas -- into a bow around the face of the Superdome on Saturday, a highly visible reminder that 52 Americans were home from Iran at last. And every man, woman and child who entered the dome today received a yellow bow, the stick-on kind you put on your Christmas packages, as they walked through the ticket turnstiles.
The bow around the dome measured 80 feet across at its widest point, and had 180-foot streamers that billowed in the brisk breeze. It was the brainchild of a Houston radio man.
Inside, the little yellow ribbons were stuck on everything: whiskey bottles to mix the $2.50 bloody marys, grape juice machines, beer taps, microwave ovens to keep the hot dogs warm. A maintenance man had one stuck on his mop handle.
Just before the kickoff, the public address announcer asked the crowd "to rise for a moment of silent thanks for the safe return of the freed hostages." And a large cheer rose up before 20 seconds of silence.
Cheerleaders from both teams were handed long, flowing yellow ribbons and they ran down the sideline from one end of the field to the other while the Southern University band played "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree." Again, cheers.
Some people brought other reminders of a day that was special for far greater reasons than football. One of them was Bill Graef, a shipper in a Philadelphia box company. He asked a plant advertising artist to make him a hand-lettered sign, and he hung it proudly from the upper deck.
"City of Champions Welcomes Back the Returnees," it said. Graef and his son, Bill Jr., were dressed from head to toe in Eagle green, "but how can you help but think about the people coming home?" he wondered. "I'll root like hell for the Eagles, but that's not real important today."
Not everyone agreed. There were a number of highly skilled businessmen working the lobby of the nearby Hyatt Regency, trying to sell Super Bowl tickets at rather inflated prices two hours before the game. The game, and the profit motive, were very important to them.
Most were asking between $60 and $100 a seat for the $40 tickets, though there were so many sellers and so few takers many were more than willing to settle for face value by the 6 p.m. kickoff. At one point, the lobby looked like the pork belly futures pit at the Chicago Board of Trade, with the cry, "I got two, who wants 'em?" echoing through the area.
Yet, for the most part, this was a well-behaved, almost sedate Super Bowl crowd. Call it mellow yellow.
Some folks may have been too pooped to pop off, having spent the previous night swarming through the French Quarter. Others may have been knocked out by the first annual Super Bowl 10-kilometer road race through the quarter early this morning. Bubba Smith started the race, with a gun, not a run, and former Kansas City Chief all-pro Buck Buchanon finished it. Craig Virgin, a world class runner, won it and a San Francisco sportswriter, no doubt weary from a week of typing hype, appropriately finished last.
There was some of the usual Super Bowl zaniness around the dome in the hours before the kickoff.
John Fox, a 17-year-old high school student from Oakland, walked around the Hyatt lobby with a plucked chicken, wearing a Eagle Helmet, hanging from his Raider pennant. "Actually, it's a plucked Eagle," Fox said.
And how will he feel if his beloved Raiders move to Los Angeles next year?
"We'll pluck Al Davis," he said. "He'll never get out of Oakland alive."
Other colors beside yellow were in abundance.There was the rainbow colored hair of that boring crasher.Rock 'n Rollen, and he had lots of competition from fans in green- and black-dyed afro wigs. "I paid $13 for mine on Bourbon Street," said Larry Lambert of Philadelphia, an insurance salesman by trade, a crazy by preference. "I've had a great time, I've gone bananas down here. I got away from my wife, wait, wait, don't write that. Just say we're having' a ball."
So, too, was Bill Scheese of Morisville, Pa. He woke up at 7 a.m. today to paint his face white. "Go Eagles" was printed on both sides of his nose in green, and there was no question in his mind but that an NBC camera would spread his ugly mug coast to coast.
"That's the name of the game," he said. "I want to say 'Hi, mom,' to my friends back home, let 'em know I'm still alive." Scheese also was carrying a battery-powered television so he would know instantly if his paint job proved succesful. "I'm gonna be famous before this day is over, I guarantee it."
Nearby, five young men in blue jeans and no shirts were using the plaza level of the Superdome as the world's largest sundeck. While thousands passed around them, they soaked up the rays, and much liquids.
"Why don't you take it off," a woman dressed in basic Oakland black and white baited the bathing beauty boys.
"Anything you say, lady," one answered, stripping to his undershorts before modesty prevailed.
On the inside, more than 2,500 media types dined on a dome brunch that featured chicken, shrimp casserole and bread pudding. On the other side of the dome, a gathering of Superdome sky suite occupants had similar fare in another sumptuous spread.
And everywhere you turned, from the Gucci guys in the corporate set to the beer-and-a-shot crowd from South Philly, a yellow ribbon was prominently displayed. It was a super day for football, and a while lot more. p
Oakland linebacker Rod Martin summed up everybody's feeling. "God bless the hostages," he said.