Super Bowl: It’s a grand experience

The Media Center is located at the Moscone Center's West exhibit hall. Radio row and portable TV stations take up a big portion of the first floor.

The NFL Experience at the Moscone Center in San Francisco can best be described as an amusement park for football fans. On Wednesday, I got a media credential day pass to scour the grounds and soak in the experience. One thing that stood out was the presence of security, which was omnipresent.
I saw a police officer holding a machine gun and two men from the FBI armed in riot gear with assault weapons at their disposal. It was a surreal scene considering how much fun everyone else was having inside the Moscone Center, a cavernous building used mostly for huge conventions.
Unless you’ve been there, one cannot grasp the enormous size of the Moscone Center. It probably has the square feet equivalent of six football stadiums. NFL Experience featured—among other things—a Play 60 Kids Zone, numerous merchandise and memorabilia, Super Bowl trophies, an autograph stage and Super Bowl rings.
There was a Levi’s Booth where people could get a custom jacket made for them, and plenty of places that were fan-friendly. For instance, you could kick a ball through mini goal posts, run a shuttle drill and even pretend you were an NFL Draft pick, as there was a stage set up remarkably similar to the real thing.
And why the amusement park comparison? Because at each of the aforementioned activities, your photo is taken with the option of purchasing it afterward—which many people do. There was also a display of high-end merchandise and memorabilia set for auction; the most expensive price range I saw for an item was a signed Peyton Manning jersey worn by the legendary quarterback in the Broncos-Vikings game earlier this season.
Manning had a rather pedestrian game, throwing for 213 yards and a touchdown. But to get your hands on this item, you’ll need a minimum bid of $10,000.
The longest lines were at the autograph stage, trophy display and ring exhibit. At the autograph stage, players are rotated in every couple of hours. When I was there, I didn’t recognize either player—the Bills’ Ronald Darby and the Jaguars’ Allen Hurns—at the podium.
Adam Vinatieri, a four-time Super Bowl champion who is regarded as one of the greatest kickers in NFL history, took part in the NFL Extra Points Kick Challenge to support the Pat Tillman Foundation. Vinatieri, who is currently a free agent after having another outstanding season with the Colts, kicked three footballs from 25 yards, awarding the foundation $15,000 for their scholarship fund.
To see Vinatieri up close doing his thing—a master of his craft—was a sight to behold. The force and timing in which Vinatieri kicked the football was precise, powerful and swift. Vinatieri was the only unanimous selection to the Super Bowl 50 Golden Team, which represents the greatest players in Super Bowl history.
The 20-year NFL veteran signed several autographs afterward before taking photos with fans and some of the Pat Tillman Foundation scholars.
Being a member of the press, the highlight of my trip was seeing the media center, which took up two floors of the West exhibit hall of the Moscone Center. Any notable sports talk radio show host descends onto radio row the week of the Super Bowl. Fancy TV studio sets were adjacent to radio row, making for quite a buzzing scene as athletes make the rounds and go from one radio and TV show to another to pitch their product.
Legendary quarterback Joe Montana is reported to make the most in endorsement money come Super Bowl time, which isn’t surprising considering he went a perfect 4-0 in the big game. From the authorities in riot gear to the Skittles Booth and numerous memorabilia and merchandise, the NFL Experience was truly that—an event that proved memorable in a variety of ways.

Leave your comments