Professional football’s premier event comes with a slight twist for Pacific servicemembers.
Try eggs, bacon and java, in addition to the standard fare of ribs, potato salad and cold beverages. And how about a kickoff just after dawn, instead of sunset?
Welcome to Super Bowl Monday, a bit of a departure from the national spectacle that falls on Sunday in the States. The defending champion New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Jacksonville, Fla., with kickoff at 8:30 a.m. Japan and Korea time.
There’ll be no shortage of viewing options of Super Bowl XXXIX; American Forces Radio and Television Service has the game covered wall-to-wall. Nine hours of pre-game, followed by the game itself, then post-game, could last 14 hours or more.
Clubs, community centers, even exchange food courts from Misawa, Japan, to Mangilao, Guam, are offering plenty of dining options, albeit with a bit of breakfast flair.
And for three Japan bases, some special guests — cheerleaders from three NFL teams — will spice up the occasion.
The main difference between enjoying the big game here and in the United States is the date: Monday. Though virtually all of America takes a chunk out of its Sunday to view the Super Bowl, it takes place on what’s normally a work day for Pacific bases.
“From a historical standpoint, individual commanding officers have allowed varying degrees of leeway,” said Mike Chase, a Yokosuka Naval Base spokesman.
That leeway permits lower-tier commands and section supervisors to “in some cases allow troops to watch the Super Bowl that Monday morning, even if it’s not a national holiday,” Chase said.
Regardless, the game translates into big business for base clubs, which open their doors an hour or two before the contest and serve wide-ranging fare, from breakfast to lunch specials to snacks. The parties and food are available either for free or a nominal fee, depending on location.
Contests and giveaways dot the morning, with prizes ranging from trinkets like T-shirts and caps to wide-screen televisions and round-trip airline tickets.
Most venues serve non-alcoholic beverages, and on bases with venues that don’t, commanders urge servicemembers to drink responsibly, Chase said.
“Most commanders have had a policy that if you’re going to drink responsibly during the game, to go ahead and take leave for that day,” Chase said.
While pads will crack by the light of day, catching all the pre-game action requires staying up all night or taking a nap early Sunday evening and ensuring alarm clock and coffee pot are functional.
FOX, this year’s Super Bowl rights holder in the United States, begins its pregame coverage at 11 p.m. Sunday. AFN’s Pacific, Korea and Atlantic channels carry the bulk of pre-game activities.
The once-a-year slice of NFL Americana comes with a special glitz at Yokosuka, Camp Zama and Misawa Air Base in Japan, where members of the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams cheerleaders will be on hand to greet, sign autographs and perform for the troops.
It’s a departure from past years, when former Super Bowl heroes such as Dwight Hicks, Billy Kilmer, Earl Morrall and Ken Stabler ventured overseas to watch the game with the troops. Players or cheerleaders, it’s still “a big morale booster,” Chase said.
Such luminaries “who volunteer their time to watch the Super Bowl with the troops have all been huge boosters of the troops, without exception,” he said. “And they let them know how much they appreciate their service to the country. To many of the football heroes, they (troops) are heroes.”