This past pre-Super Bowl week was emotional for a lot of reasons. For one, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to get out of Wisconsin, a state that turned into the biggest block of ice I’ve ever seen or felt – and never want to again. I missed connecting with friends and peers and taking in the build-up to inarguably the biggest sports event of the year.
There is public relations value everywhere you look during Super Bowl week. Commissioner Roger Goodell may have been criticized on Wednesday and officiating and diversity deficiency took its deserved hits, but today is when the sport’s super ratings generator shows the league at its best. It’s the finest publicity an organization could ask for.
The result of being stuck is that I watched and read more media coverage than I planned. The most important takeaway from all of it was not the spectacle and marketing machine that is the NFL and Super Bowl LIII, but how many special player stories surface each year whether it’s in their communities or how they got to the biggest stage in football.
Good Sports — Chris Long named Walter Payton Man of the Year – The Philadelphia Eagles defensive end is one of many NFL players who brought special stories to Atlanta, even though he isn’t playing. Outspoken about society’s ills, quick to support peers and working to make the world a better place, he ensured several underserved communities have access to clean water, better educational opportunities and made lives better at moments’ notice.
Social initiatives — Proverbial boots on the ground shared that social causes were more prominent than ever in a Super Bowl host city thanks to the growth of RISE (the Ross Initiative for Sports for Equity), The Players Coalition and a football player who hasn’t seen the field for two years – Colin Kaepernick. Social justice was a major player during the week leading to Super Bowl LIII and I anticipate it will grow in years to come.
Peace and love –- I’ve read plenty of hate for the New England Patriots. People want to see different teams in the Super Bowl, they don’t like Brady or Belichick and this weekend, New England is being criticized on social media because of owner Robert Kraft’s and aforementioned men’s friendship with the President of the United States. I admire and appreciate so many things that Kraft has done, Belichick’s coaching brilliance and Brady’s ability to adjust to new personnel each year that I choose to focus on what this organization has accomplished as it plays its ninth Super Bowl since 2001.
The Rams have not been without detractors. An umm, transient team (Cleveland to Los Angeles to St. Louis back to Los Angeles), this organization is still fighting for a fan base in its second season back in California. A few did, however, make their way to Atlanta. One thing for sure is that Rams head coach Sean McVay is a superstar in the making, and NFL teams throughout the country are hiring young football minds in hopes they can emulate his success as quickly.
An international holiday – Millions of people throughout the world set aside four hours – or eight if you’re watching some pregame shows — on a February Sunday to watch two teams play football. People that on every other day debate sports, politics and the color of the sky come together to watch NFL’s premier event. The game helps build bridges among sometimes, the most unlikely people. What could be better?
©Gail Sideman, gpublicity 2019