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Bill Lucey Headshot

Super Bowl Sunday at the White House

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If there is one universal criticism of President Obama's cool controlled management style, it's that he appears too detached, acting more like a law professor inspiring his students, never giving vent to his anger or leaping for joy when such emotions might warrant it.

You might be curious, then, if the presidents' cool indifference is in play on Super Bowl Sunday?

On the surface, it seems like it is. When questioned by ABC's Diane Sawyer, Mr. Obama said both the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints were terrific teams, but was pulling for the Saints "partly because'' Obama told Sawyer, "when I think about what's happened to New Orleans over the last several years and how much that team means to them...I'm pretty sympathetic.''

A typical calm cool as cucumber Obama response

But during last year's Super Bowl, Obama displayed no such tranquility According to the Washington Post, the president openly rooted for the Pittsburgh Steelers to defeat the Arizona Cardinals and leapt to his feet when Steelers' linebacker James Harrison sprinted the length of the field for a touchdown just before halftime, telling Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) sitting next to him, "what do you think about that!''

Now, perhaps, that's the kind of unbridled emotion the American people are looking for from their president.

U.S. Presidents and Super Bowls lack a rich tradition equal to the World Series. In fact, no sitting president has ever attended a Super Bowl. The closest came in 1985 during Super Bowl XIX, when President Reagan tossed the coin via satellite from the Oval Office. Vice President George H.W. Bush did attend Super Bowl XVI in Detroit on January 24, 1982, when the San Francisco 49ers narrowly defeated the Cincinnati Bengals; while former presidents Bill Clinton and Bush (the elder), participated in FOX Sports Pregame Super Bowl show in 2005 in Jacksonville Fla.
Former President Jimmy Carter, according to Greg Aiello, NFL spokesperson has also attended a Super Bowl after leaving office.

President Nixon, a part-time Florida resident, openly rooted for the Miami Dolphins during Super Bowl VI, he even phoned in a play to Don Shula (a-down-and in); but changed allegiance the following year, when the Dolphins returned to the Super Bowl to face the Washington Redskins. "I always root for the home team'' Mr. Nixon told The New York Times. "And my home now is in Washington.''

During Super Bowl XIII in 1979, President Jimmy Carter put his money where his mouth is by placing a $5 bet with Miss Lillian, his mother, that the Cowboys would beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Carter lost that bet.

In 1993, President Clinton scheduled his first official dinner on Super Bowl Sunday, bringing together the nation's governors, including Texas Gov Ann Richards and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, both of whom had more than a passing interest in Super Bowl XXVII, with the Dallas Cowboys squaring off against the Buffalo Bills.

President Clinton invited the Rev. Jesse Jackson to the White House in 1998, soon after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke to watch the Super Bowl at the White House Family Theater and seek his spiritual guidance, along with his advice on his upcoming State of the Union address. Jackson strongly advised the president not to mention the scandal in his speech. "Hold on to the sides of the boat until the morning cometh'' Jackson told the president "because the storms will pass over.''

No one can accuse former President George W. Bush of hiding his emotions during a football game In January, 2002, while watching a playoff game between the Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, the president stood up and cheered, only to choke on a pretzel, falling face-first to the ground. Bush fainted after a decrease of blood pressure, but quickly recovered and reportedly peeked in on the rest of the game.

That presidential swoon may have been a harbinger of the yet unknown future.

The following year, two months before invading Iraq (2003), Mr. Bush invited Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi exile, and a staunch critic of the Saddam Hussein's dictatorship to the White House to watch Super Bowl XXVII

-Bill Lucey

Super Bowl Footnotes:

• The winning team of this year's Super Bowl will each receive $83,000; $42,000 will be awarded to members of the losing team. The winning share for Super Bowl I, by comparison, was $15,000 for the winner and $7,500 for members of the losing team.

• The Vince Lombardi Trophy, a regulation-size silver football mounted in a kicking position on a pyramid stand of three conclave sides, stands 20.75 inches tall, weighs 107.3 ounces and is valued in excess of $25,000.

• The Indianapolis Colts representing the AFC are considered the home team during this year's Super Bowl and will occupy the South sideline, giving them the option of wearing their traditional blue jersey's if the so desire..

• Ticket Prices: for Super Bowl XLIV sold for: $1,000, $900,$800, $500
In Super Bowl I, tickets were: $12, $10, and $6

• A Roman numeral to designate a Super Bowl wasn't officially adopted until Super Bowl V.

• Next year's Super Bowl will take place in North Texas at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium.

• Super Bowl XLIII, on February 1, 2009 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals was watched by an estimated 151,600,000 viewers.

• A 30-second adversiment during this year's Super Bowl was selling for between $2.6 to $3 million dollars

• 21.5 million people will throw Super Bowl parties; 9.9 million will watch the game in bars and restaurants

• According to National Restaurant Association, 15 percent of Americans order takeout on Super Bowl Sunday, 58 percent of those order pizza, 50 percent chicken wings and 20 percent subs and sandwiches.

• More than 4500 media credentials have been issued for this year's Super Bowl

• 230 countries and territories will televise this year's Super Bowl

• The New York Giants, winner of Super Bowl XXI (1987) finished last the following season in the NFC Eastern Division with a 6-9 record. The Denver Broncos met a similar fate, after winning Super Bowl XXXIII (1999), finishing last the following year in the AFC Western Division with a 6-10 record.

• The coldest Super Bowl in Miami was a chilly 57 degrees during Super Bowl X on January 18, 1976. The coldest recorded Super Bowl was in New Orleans on January 16, 1972, registering a frosty 39 degrees.

• The first well known musical star to perform at halftime didn't come until Super Bowl III (1969) when Carol Channing performed. The tradition of booking a mega musical star, however, didn't really kickoff until Super Bowl XXVII, when the former king of pop, Michael Jackson, performed at halftime with 3,500 local children, the same year O.J. Simpson participated in the pregame coin toss ceremony.

Source: NFL Media Relations

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