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Some actually interesting Super Bowl stories

This story about women in executive positions with NFL teams is quite interesting. I knew about the Raiders’ Amy Trask – there was a Sports Illustrated profile of her awhile back in which she was described as “Al Davis in a skirt” – but I had no idea that so many franchises may someday soon be owned by women:

Charlotte Anderson, daughter of Dallas owner Jerry Jones, is a vice president/director of charities and special events for the Cowboys. She and her brothers — executive vice president and chief operating officer Stephen Jones and vice president/general counsel Jerry Jones Jr. — are active in the day-to-day operation of the team.

Two of the other most influential women in the NFL are San Diego’s Jeanne Bonk, vice president and chief financial and administrative officer, and the New York Jets’ Dawn Aponte, who as manager of football administration oversees the salary cap. Both are examples of women who worked their way up the corporate ladder within one organization.

Lisa Bogdan, daughter of Bills owner Ralph Wilson and a corporate vice president involved in long-term planning for the team, has spent many of her 17 years in the organization as a scout. Personnel is her passion, and she is the only woman in the league actively involved in scouting games. She scouts college games in the East as well as bowl and all-star games and the combine at Indianapolis.

Marsha McCombs, daugher of Minnesota owner Red McCombs, doesn’t have a title with the Vikings but is a familiar figure at the team’s training camp and at NFL meetings. She is being groomed by her father to eventually take over the team.

Rita LeBlanc, a finance and business executive, is in her third full season with the Saints. The granddaughter of New Orleans owner Tom Benson, she also is being groomed to take over the franchise.

[Katie] Blackburn, [daughter of owner Mike Brown,] who eventually will take over the Bengals, is involved in contract negotiations, the salary cap and radio and television negotiations. She played a key role in the negotiating, planning and building of Paul Brown Stadium, which opened in 2002. She also watches film and attends the Indianapolis scouting combine.

“The fun part of the business is football, like knowing the personnel and who all the draft picks are and how they’re playing,” Blackburn says. “My feeling is that they tie together, especially if you’re doing contracts, and you really have to know a little bit about the personnel side and be involved in order to be negotiating and understanding where they’re coming from.”

That’s three future female owners, not counting Georgia Frontiere, Denise DeBartolo York, and the mostly-retired Virginia McCaskey. There’s a separate profile of native Texan and A&M graduate Rita LeBlanc as well.

There’s a lot of Super Bowl excitement south of the border as well. This bit confuses me, though:

Houston’s team might not yet be an attraction in Mexico, but Sunday’s game will be. Hundreds of Mexicans have purchased package deals costing as much as $8,500 for hotel rooms and tickets. Plans offering Houston hotels and nose-bleed seats in the end zone for more than $3,500 have sold out, travel agents say.

Where’d all those available tickets come from? I thought the teams and the corporate sugar daddies sucked up the vast majority of them.

Finally, the next time someone tells me that football is way cooler than baseball, I will note that the opening ceremonies to SB XXXVIII were headlined by Yanni.

“I hope (the audience) gets goose bumps,” Yanni said before taking the stage. “This is emotional. This is not about logic. I’m hoping people leave inspired, feeling great about their city.”

The stage was set for a night at the symphony, but the banners of the Patriots and Panthers that hung between two large overhead screens definitely screamed, “Are you ready for some football?”

Yanni’s backing bows and strings on Enchantment introduced video footage of Texans players working in the community and signing autographs. The melodies burbled like songbirds harmonizing before getting scared by the metallic clang of cymbals. Standing In Motion was a more progressive pop number, allowing Yanni to take center stage at his multi-keyboard control center with an assist from a salsa-inspired trumpeter.

As Yanni led his ensemble through regal arias with Houston’s greatest sports legends looking on, the meshing of fluegelhorns and football suddenly wasn’t as odd as one might expect.

“A Houston Salute” was a celebration of pro football and a tribute to the city’s sports history. A pep rally with an all-star audience that gave locals a chance to say, “Put your smiles on. Company’s coming … but Yanni is already here.”

‘Nuff said.

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  1. William Hughes says:

    Yanni sounds like the perfect excuse to change the channel, go to the concession stand, or go to the bathroom. At least I’ll be out of town this Sunday.

  2. Don says:

    Funny thing is, that with all the focus on “Houston Sports Legends”, they took a pass on Houston’s own symphony orchestra (who actively courted the gig) in order to bring in Jim Nantz’s Florida neighbor Yanni. Nice local touch.