There are three flags flying in front of the hotel serving as press headquarters for the Super Bowl: the United States, state of California and National Football League.

The NFL's is by far the largest.

"The Super Bowl is the second biggest day in America," muses the television man. "Christmas is first. If the NFL hands out gifts, it ties Christmas; if it makes up some songs it goes ahead. The game passed Easter two years ago."

The players say they hate the hoopla around the game, the press says the week-long buildup is nothing but hype and the league wonders sometimes about the monster it has created in the 13 years since Super Bowl I.

But the NFL baby keeps growing and growing.

Sunday, 104,000 people will view the game in person at the Rose Bowl. Another 50 million to 80 million are expected to tune it in via television. Ticket scalpers have been getting as much as $250 for end-zone seats, $350 for a 40-yard line vantage point.

This year, the league thought its annual pregame party was getting too big. It handed out 4,400 tickets to the affair last year. This year around, a mere 3,000 were available.

When it comes to Super Bowl, the NFL does not deal in small numbers. Ever.

So what if the Rams really aren't Hollywood's pet anymore? That doesn't stop the screen stars from making predictions.

Don Rickles -- "Even though I heard that Georgia Rosenbloom has hired an ambulance instead of a team bus to take the Rams to the ballpark, I pick the Rams by four."

Sally Struthers -- "A poem: 'When it comes to the Super Bowl, my money's on the Rams 'cause of Vince Ferragamo -- just look at those gams.'"

About 27,000 Pittsburgh fans are here and a record 2,267 newspapermen.

George Allen, hired in 1978 to coach the Rams to a Super Bowl then fired before the season started, will be here too. As a CBS analyst. His role: bbe the Ram coach against John Madden's Steelers in a pregame show.

(Allen's prediction: "Pittsburgh by a field goal, either 17-14 or 20-17.")

The City of Pasadena, which hadn't seen much of Super Bowl types until the NFL party Friday night (at the Pasadena Civic Center), figures to add from $750,000 to $1 million to the city coffers because of this game.

"Super Bowl fans are completely different than those who come New Year's Day to the Rose Bowl," says concessionaire Ray Wilkins. "They are businessmen instead of students. They are mostly adults out for a good time. Super Bowl people have plenty of money and they spend it.

"I think a prerequisite at Super Bowl is coming with $500 in your wallet and having it empty when you leave."

More on Super Bowl eating habits: In 1977, the Rose Bowl crowd consumed 162 kegs of beer. There will be 1000 kegs available Sunday.

Beer will cost $2. In 1977, when it was $1.25, a man ordered 50 beers to go. "I don't want to come back from my seat once I get there," he said. He left a $20 tip.

CBS-TV spent $6 million for rights to this game and another $1.3 million to put it on. There will be a record 16 cameras used, along with 75 microphones, 100 monitors, and 20 miles of audio cable. The game will be carried in 24 countries.

If you tune in the pregame show you'll see Lindsey Nelson live from Kelley Barracks in West Germany and Jayne Kennedy live from a helicopter above the Rose Bowl. And Allen vs. Madden.

In all, it will take CBS 5 1/2 hours to televise 15 minutes of actual game action.

The gas crisis has not missed Souther California. But it has missed the Super Bowl.

The Steelers were stabled at Newport Beach, 61 miles south of the Rose Bowl. The Rams were at Costa Mesa, 56 miles away. To get to their practice field, the Steelers had to travel 44 miles round trip. The Rams had a round trip of 34 miles.

The press had to go 94 miles round trip to interview the Steelers and 78 to talk to the Rams.

Gas was no problem. All you had to do was borrow an official NFL car and return it within eight hours, no charge.

About the NFL party. In 1977, the league rented the Queen Mary.It was a disaster. Too many people in too small a place. Somehow, three guests got so lost they had to go through a nearby customs area to get back in.

This year, the Pasadena Civic Center -- bigger and much more suited to this massive gathering -- was transformed into a New York subway station, in keeping with the big band '40s theme. Featured artists: Helen O'Connell, Tex Beneke and Bob Eberle.

The NFL didn't like the decorations on the playing field after Ohio State and USC in the Rose Bowl, so they took up the eyesore areas and -- three weeks before the Big Event planted (not sodded) new grass.

Until the sun came out Friday, even Commissioner Pete Rozelle admitted he was worried there were going to be bare spots on the playing field.

"Green mud wouldn't have looked to good on national TV," one releived NFL man said.

"We are going to win," said Ram owner Georgia Rosenbloom, the runaway media star of the Super Bowl.

For the occasion, Mrs. Rosenbloom composed a verse titled "The Future Is Suddenly Now."

It concludes: "There's one thing for sure -- I can't bring back the Past However, the Future that I dreamed of before Is suddenly NOW -- and we've settled a score! So today is all mine -- I clearly can see, Don't dwell on what's gone Or what's yet to be. Yes, NOW is so perfect Except for one goal That secret desire to win the SUPER BOWL!!!"

With no apologies to George Allen.