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In general, I've never been a big music fan. In specific, I've never really cared for Prince, who died yesterday at 57. However, I do want to go on record as saying that I think Prince might have been one of the best performers in the history of pop music.

I saw him in concert only once. That once was nine years ago, at the halftime performance of Superbowl XLI on February 5, 2007. In addition to being Peyton Manning's first championship, it was also the first Super Bowl played in the rain.

Conditions were miserable. There was no warmth in Miami that evening. The rain was cold and steady, penetrating the ponchos that most of the crowd were wearing. The wind cut straight to the bone. Honestly, it was the least comfortable I'd ever been in a football stadium. I suspect that most of the nearly 75,000 people in attendance shared my opinion.

Of course, it didn't help that there wasn't much entertainment to take our attention away from the foul weather. Cirque Du Soleil was a terrible pregame act, bringing out some acrobats to do whatever acrobats do. Two note to future programmers: 1) it's impossible to see what a single acrobat is doing on the 20 yard line, and 2) football fans don't care about acrobats.

The game, when we got to it, wasn't much better. The Chicago Bears — and especially their hapless quarterback, Rex Grossman — were terribly outclassed by Manning's Indianapolis Colts. The Bears took an early lead, but then ran out of gas. Though it took a while for the score board to catch up, the game was a rout.

Honestly, by halftime, I was considering walking out of the stadium and calling it a night. When the public address announcer asked the fans to reach under their seats and light the small LED flashlights we were given, I said no. Enough was enough. Then Prince came to my rescue.

They assembled the stage at midfield and poof! Prince appeared in a cloud of smoke with his electric guitar — in the rain! He proceeded to put on one hell of an invigorating performance. He demanded that we clap, and we clapped. He told us to sing along, and we sang along. He closed, fittingly, with Purple Rain, and it rained. It was exactly what we needed to hear. It turned a disasterous outing into a night to remember.

So, while I've never owned a Prince album or seen Graffiti Bridge, I do recognize that the world lost someone special yesterday. Thanks, Prince.

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I had the good fortune to obtain Super Bowl tickets this year. This time yesterday, I was sitting in the rain and gusting wind of the coldest, wettest Super Bowl in history. I tell you, there wasn't a dry eye in the house when the contest was over, and it wasn't because the Bears were trampled by the Colts, giving Peyton Manning his first NFL Championship. No, it rained and rained and rained. And then it rained some more. Trey and I briefly lamented not wearing raincoats to the game, but then we realized that those people who were wearing raincoats were just as soaked-to-the-bone as we were. Yet I still saw dozens of people in the fourth quarter who were still wearing torn, useless plastic bags as though they were life preservers and holding seat cushions over their heads like umbrellas. Fortunately for us, there was a stadium employee kindly warning us of a large puddle on the way to our cars. Most of the crowd walked through it anyway, as our shoes and socks had been completely saturated hours earlier.

Thanks for the lift to the game, Trey!

Trey and I arrived early in anticipation of the day's events. While that meant that we were parked close to the stadium, it also meant that we would have to wait for nearly an hour to leave once the game was over. There is much truth in the cliche, "First In, Last Out." To my disappointment, the $20.00 I spent on a corndog, pretzel, bottle of water, and a Pepsi didn't go towards paying for a quality parking staff. At least they were a very large corndog and bottle of water. Though I hate Pepsi, as the "Official Soft Drink of the NFL," it was the only caffeine that I could get before the game. I'd forgotten how awful it tastes! Thankfully, the rain quenched my remaining, unsatisfied thirst.

Ahhh, Vice City!

As my first visit to Dolphin Stadium (formerly Dolphins Stadium, formerly Pro Player Stadium, formerly Pro Player Park, formerly Joe Robbie Stadium), home of the Miami Dolphins, it was practically a trip to Mecca. We spotted fans wearing gear from 26 of the 32 NFL teams (Bills, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and my hometown Falcons were not seen), but after the Bears and Colts, the team far-and-away best represented was the Dolphins themselves. I even had the opportunity to watch Dan Marino, whom the locals all apparently simply call "Danny," working on the CBS pre-game show with James Brown and Shannon Sharpe. (It was kind of comforting to see how the town still fully embraces him: the stadium is on Dan Marino Boulevard, and the city is peppered with billboards on which he pitches everything from weight-loss systems to used cars.)

Over here, Danny!

I cheered for the Bears, and Trey rooted for the Colts. I'm not much of a Colts fan for the very sound reasons that they have long been over-hyped, they used to be in the AFC East with the Dolphins, and they are quarterbacked by an ex-Tennessee Volunteer. (Sure, Grossman is an ex-Florida Gator, but at least he's incompetent.) By the second quarter, it became apparent that the Bears were horribly outclassed (as expected) and wouldn't be much of a challenge for the Colts. Trey and I had predicted at the start of the playoffs that any AFC team could take any NFC team in the playoffs this year, and after seeing the Bears' miserable performance in the Super Bowl, I still think that's true.

We came. We saw. We got very, very wet.

Watching the game with Trey proved insightful, if irritating. He made several excellent points about both teams' strategies and execution. After Devon Hester returned the opening kickoff for a Bears' touchdown, Trey pointed out that an opening return always boded bad things for the scoring team. He reminded me that the same thing happened in last month's NCAA BCS Championship game for Ohio State, who, like the Bears, tanked the rest of the game. Most amusingly, early in the 4th quarter, after Grossman completed 2 passes and was moving the Bears down field, Trey proclaimed, "if [the Bears' coaches] call another pass play here, they are complete idiots." When on the next play, Colt's cornerback Kevin Hayden returned a Grossman interception for a touchdown, icing the game, Trey got the meanest looks from some nearby soggy Bears fans, as though Trey himself had stuck the dagger in the Bears' heart. I laughed and laughed.

Final Score: Colts 29, Bears 17

I'm resentful of the fact that Peyton Manning secured his Championship ring (and cemented his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history) in Marino's hometown, but at least it rained on that punk's parade. Now I'm home, and I'm almost dry. It's certainly something that I'll have to do again. Next time, I'll be prepared: I'll take a snorkel.

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To be continued...

 

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