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The Billion Dollar Game: Behind-the-Scenes of the Greatest Day in American Sport - Super Bowl Sundayby Allen St. John
Synopses & Reviews
If You Build It . . .
“It all started with an innocent phone call,” says Peter Eisenman.
Wearing a navy blue cashmere sweater with a small hole, Eisenman is sitting in the sunny, unpretentious Manhattan loft space that he calls his office, perched in an old black Breuer chair, at one end of a conference table big enough for a game of platform tennis. (Just the thing for spreading out pages of blueprints, I assume.) Eisenman is one of the major figures in contemporary architecture. He is also the first of many auteurs of Super Bowl XLII.
The man on the other end of that phone call in September 1996 was Mike Rushman. Rushman is a Phoenix-based lawyer who had worked briefly with Eisenman on a proposed, and ultimately abandoned, project at the Boston Navy Yard. Now he came to the architect with a proposition.
“Are you interested in football?” Rushman asked.
“Yes,” Eisenman replied.
“Well, the Arizona Cardinals are thinking of building a new stadium. And we’re going to have a competition, with Frank Gehry and Will Bruder, who’s a local architect,” Rushman explained.
“Frank Gehry doesn’t know anything about football,” Eisenman countered.
“This season is the fiftieth anniversary of the Cardinals winning their first NFL championship, so it’s a good time to kick this thing off.”
“Yeah, I know. I saw that team play,” said Eisenman casually.
“Really?” said Rushman.
“Not only did I see that team play, I can name the starting backfield. Paul Christman, who played at Missouri. Elmer Angsman, the fullback who played at Notre Dame. Pat Harder, who played at Wisconsin. Charley Trippi, who played at Georgia. And the fifth one was . . .” Eisenman paused, more for effect than anything else. “Marshall Goldberg, who played at Pittsburgh.”
Unlike Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman knew a thing or two about football.
He went on to tell Rushman how the Cardinals had gotten their name. “They were an Irish club on the South Side of Chicago, and they had no money for jerseys.” Believe it or not, a half century ago, the National Football League was just a ragtag organization that took a backseat to the big college programs of the day. How ragtag? When Jay Berwanger of The University of Chicago, winner of the very first Heisman Trophy in 1935, was selected first overall by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the first NFL draft, he decided against playing pro football and became a successful foam rubber salesman instead.
“The University of Chicago was called the Maroons,” Eisenman continued. “And they would give their hand-me-down jerseys to the local pro team. But after being washed all year, by the end of the season they were no longer maroon, they were cardinal red.”
And with that casual phone call began an odyssey that would see a sleepy desert farming town become a place where, a dozen years later, the worlds of professional sports, high finance, and mass culture would come together on a sleet-gray January Sunday for Super Bowl XLII, not only the biggest Super Bowl but also the best. For a brief shining moment at least, Glendale, Arizona, would become the center of the universe.
The truth is that Super Bowls
"New York Times"-bestselling author St. John follows the money trail and pulls back the curtain, revealing the fascinating inside world--and the massive economic and cultural engine--that is the Super Bowl.
A fascinating portrait of the National Football League, the Super Bowl, and all the position players who come together to create the biggest cultural phenomenon in Americansports.
Think the Super Bowl is only about two teams of titans clashing on the field? Think again. The Super Bowl is about fans, hundreds of millions of fans. It's about money, moremoney than the GDP of twenty-five sovereign nations. It's about precision, the timing of everything from the notorious commercials to the epic halftime show. And it's about the vision and skill ofdesigning a state-of-the-art stadium to house the great show. Here, Allen St. John reveals how America's biggest sporting event is more than just a couple hours on a Sunday: it's a high stakes, real-life dramatic story, with millions of participants all hoping for the same thing--the greatest game ever.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Let the games begin — 1: Game: If you build it — 2: Game: Location, location, location — 3: Game: I've just seen a place — 4: Game: Believe the hype — 5: Celebration: It's my party — 6: Celebration: Making a list — 7: Celebration: In the beginning — 8: Show: No direction home — 9: Show: Men upstairs — 10: Show: Kicked off — 11: Show: Rashomon of the red zone — 12: Game: Extreme makeover — 13: Celebration: High tide, green grass — 14: Game: Point man — 15: Game: Twelve minutes of terror — 16: Game: Toughest ticket — 17: Show: Fist bump — 18: Show: Buck starts here — 19: Show: Homework time — 20: Game: Seven days — 21: Game: Game day — Epilogue — Acknowledgments.
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