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Monday, February 7, 2011
Oh, what a wild ride it was

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's tough to get three kids on your lap, especially when one is a 15-month-old up way after bedtime.

But Green Bay's Scott Wells did an admirable job of keeping his son Kingston from grabbing the microphone while speaking in coherent sentences during his postgame press conference as a member of the NFL champion Packers.

His wife, Julie, in a personalized NFL shirt with metal spikes and black lace that she calls her rock star jersey, said her offseason just got a little easier. "We just fly right along with it," she said as she ushered Kingston, 7-year-old Jackson and 4-year-old Lola out of the media center.

Sunday in North Texas was about as over-the-top as it comes. Former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson wandered around watching the Steelers give their monotone postgame addresses. As though it were a matter of great importance, singer Christina Aguilera released an official statement to apologize for flubbing a line in the national anthem. And all over town, suits and cowboy hats mingled with face painters and foam cheeseheads.

As I talked to a couple of Packers fans, a Fort Worth sheriff's pickup truck hauling a trailer crept by in clogged traffic near Sundance Square. I peered in the back. "What's a cow doing down here?" I asked.

"Oh, that's not a cow," said Brett Greenfield, a Wisconsin native. He then used his Midwest animal husbandry skills to identify the animal as a Longhorn steer.

Those from dairy land, they know their bovines.

Debbie Ballard watched Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler clamber onto the ESPN set in Sundance Square on Sunday morning. An ambassador for Fort Worth, Ballard was not clear on who the football players they joined were, but that's only because she prefers real men, meaning ones who play hockey.

Take Dallas Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas.

"He takes a puck to the face, and he's back in the next series," Ballard said. "I heard a [football] player hurt his toe and was out for the rest of the season."

Who can argue with that?

Sisters Terrie Petties and Tanya Reed live in different states, but this Super Bowl was their chance to meet up in Arlington. They grew up in the South, but during that window in the 1970s when you had to pledge allegiance to the Steelers or the Cowboys -- there was no other choice. Terrie had on her black jersey.

Driving up to the stadium, we saw dozens of makeshift parking lots charging from $70 to $150. A couple of businesses offered "free" parking with the purchase of $1,000 in paper clips, or something like that. On the walk into the stadium, I counted a troop of Girl Scouts, two military recruiters and three people who wanted to save eternal souls.

Once inside the stadium, I saw NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier walking through the main entrance. It was tempting to ask why he was bothering to watch these "athletes" when any second they could be out with turf toe.

Greenfield's best celebrity sighting was Michael Strahan. The Packers fan (and Longhorn expert) said the former Giant was engaging up to a point -- he wouldn't give his pick before the game. Apparently Strahan said Fox pays him too much for that expertise to just dole it out for free.

And to the game.

The logistical problems leading up to the game really couldn't dim the fact that the last football game of the season, and possibly for a longer stretch than usual due to the NFL's labor issues, was a good one. Not the greatest -- there was no Plaxico Burress or Santonio Holmes to make the Steelers' last drive a shocking success -- but it wasn't the blowout you might have thought when the Packers were up 21-3 in the second quarter.

Aaron Rodgers lives up to the hype. Cue the confetti. The redemption talk gets quietly swept to the side to make way for the Packers.

And now, how the heck are we going to fill our Sundays?