Super Bowl Frenzy
With Super Bowl LIII right around the corner, Members describe the highs and lows of being a football fan half a world away.
The NFL season ends in heartbreak for 31 teams. Even for the lone champion, success is nearly as impossible to replicate as a fingertip sideline catch.
For diehard football fans like Member Ken Hoofard, that means accepting the feast-or-famine nature of following your favorite team.
“I don’t know what it is about being a fan,” Hoofard, 59, says. “It’s almost masochistic when your team is playing bad. But you stay with them. Hope springs eternal.”
The lifelong Dallas Cowboys supporter has seen enough football over the years to take a 30,000-foot view of his fandom. A season ticket holder during the 1990s, Hoofard fondly remembers the three Super Bowl victories of that era.
“We’d tailgate before every game,” Hoofard reminisces. “The energy [at Texas Stadium] was electric. Any moment if [the Cowboys] were losing, they could turn around a game and win it.”
The Cowboys are no longer contenders, and Hoofard hasn’t been back home in Dallas for three years. But for the last two Super Bowls, he’s made the Club his home field.
“Last year, I got here by 8am,” Hoofard says. “I was first in line.”
He had no rooting interest in the New England–Philadelphia matchup. Instead, it was the atmosphere he craved.
“People rib each other and talk to other tables,” Hoofard says. “Even as a fan, you’re competing with another fan.”
There’s no beating a live stadium crowd, but to many Members the Club’s Super Bowl events are the next best thing. And this year promises
to be an even more exhilarating morning in the New York Ballroom, with VIP table seating and a new sports bar-style setting for general admission, along with giveaways, Super Bowl breakfast specials and all the action on 3.5-meter screens.
The Club’s Super Bowl revels guarantee far-flung fans everything they want, except the final score.
Hoofard watched New England fail to repeat as Super Bowl champions. He says he can see time running out on the Patriots dynasty, just as it did for his Cowboys.
“They’re probably going to lose,” Hoofard admits, “and, every now and then, they’re going to lose in some heartbreaking fashion. But you’ve got to watch.”
Don’t tell member, Jeff Multz about heartbreak. Multz adopted Atlanta’s teams after attending college outside the city. Other than a playoff run in 1999, the Falcons didn’t give Multz much to cheer about over the years.
Fast forward to the third quarter of 2017’s Super Bowl. Multz’s Falcons were trouncing the Patriots by 25 points. Multz, watching in rapture from his office, called the game at halftime and took his colleagues to lunch.
“I’ve seen every Super Bowl since the fifth one on,” Multz, 54, says. “Whether I was cocky or not, I thought the Falcons had this one.”
An hour later, he checked his phone for the final, triumphant score. The game was tied.
“It was shock,” he says. “I couldn’t fathom how this could happen.
[My colleagues] were going, ‘What’s wrong, Jeff?’”
Multz watched the rest of the game, including the Patriots’ celebration, on his phone in stunned silence. This year, if his work schedule cooperates, he might take his heartbreak to the Club.
“It’s the next best compromise to watching live,” Multz says. “[The Super Bowl party] is great for fans, whether they’re Americans or foreigners in Japan.”
He has a different message for the Falcons: “Come on, guys, get it together for a straight season.”
In 2004, it seemed the Super Bowl-bound Philadelphia Eagles had finally gotten it together. Philly native and Member Greg Leviton invited some friends to his New York City apartment to watch the Eagles–Patriots showdown. He might as well have skipped the invitations.
“I probably didn’t have any conversations,” Leviton, 42, says. “I was glued to the TV.”
That loss would be Philadelphia’s last Super Bowl appearance for nearly 15 years. During that time, Leviton moved to Tokyo with his wife and two daughters while the Eagles cycled through numerous quarterbacks, coaches and jersey designs.
But the team, “the soul of the city,” according to Leviton, remained trophyless. Until, that is, he took his seat at last year’s Super Bowl party in the New York Ballroom.
“There’s always going to be somebody there wearing [your team colors],” Leviton says of the Club’s Super Bowl bash. “It’s almost a bonding experience, especially if your team is in it.”
The Eagles stayed in it until the final whistle. Throughout the game, Leviton had been explaining football basics to his British seatmate, Member Lloyd Danon. On the final play, with Philadelphia leading by a score, Danon took out his phone and recorded Leviton’s reaction.
A pass from star quarterback Tom Brady tumbled to the deck. Leviton sprung to his feet, arms outstretched, fingers skyward.
“At certain times,” Leviton says, “your instincts just take over as a fan.”
Super Bowl at the Club
Feb 4 | 7:30am
Super Bowl at Traders' Bar
Feb 4 | 7:45am
Words: Owen Ziegler
Image: Yuuki Ide