Well before kickoff and long before the Texans vs. Eagles score turned on the dark side, there was a rocking party playing out on the sidelines at NRG Stadium where several hundred fans with VIP passes gathered for ground zero views of the stadium and the practicing players.
Tradition holds that VIPs and specially-selected guests garner the coveted field passes that allow pre-game schmoozing within spitting distance of the warm-up scene.
It's all about catching a glimpse of the players on the field, rubbing elbows with the heavy hitters on the sidelines and taking in the impressive of the 71,000-seat stadium from the field.
Before high noon on Sunday, optimism ran high along the sidelines as smartphones were pulled out over and over again to snap the moment and perhaps to grab a quick shot with Houston Texans president Jamey Rootes or GM Rick Smith (wearing a three-piece suit on this day). Even Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis stepped across the yellow rope separating mere mortals from the professional athletes to pose for a photo opp.
On this day, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, the man who sold the NFL on Houston as the Super Bowl choice for 2017, mingled in the enthusiastic crowd along with Super Bowl Host Committee chairman Ric Campo and executive director Sallie Sargent. Halliburton sponsored Battle Red Day and chairman and CEO David Lazar was in the early sidelines mix as well. They were part of the unveiling of the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee logo.
It's all about catching a glimpse of the players on the field, rubbing elbows with the heavy hitters on the sidelines and taking in the impressive view of the 71,000-seat stadium from the field.
Former Houston Oiler Willie Alexander was on the sidelines with former Philadelphia Eagles' Roynell Young, Will Bowen and Alan Hassenflu. Houston Super Bowl Host Committee member David Solomon was accompanied by his daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Dan Cotuno.
Alice and Keith Mosing, Legacy Community Services CEO Katy Caldwell, Sherry and Jim Smith, Rusty Hardin, Joanna and Brad Marks and Gary Petersen with his 4-year-old twins, Margaux and Meyer, in tow were among the notables on the sidelines.
There is no food and no drink during this pregame frolic, rather the opportunity to view the stadium from the rare vantage point and to catch a close-up glimpse of Houston Texans honchos and the chance for a zillion smartphone photos in the heart of the stadium.