Beyond the Boxscore
Snoop Dogg stiffs the Super Bowl for Playmates, but chef Fearing plays mayor
One of the many things the ice and the cold have eliminated from Super Bowl XLV is people on the streets. Foot traffic has been virtually nonexistent in both downtown Dallas and Fort Worth most of the week. (And there's nowhere to walk in Arlington, unless you want to do laps around Cowboys Stadium.)
This is a car-to-door Super Bowl. Unless they're gathering around ESPN's outdoor set, determined to be seen on TV, people aren't lingering in the elements. With the exception of Snoop Dogg vigil.
Snoop may not be the biggest celebrity at Jerry's Bowl, but the rapper certainly has some of the most devoted fans. When word got out that Snoop would be staying at Hotel Indigo on Dallas' Main Street, a loyal group of believers started gathering near the hotel, hoping for a glimpse of their icon (and perhaps a whiff or two of some powerful second-hand marijuana smoke). Only problem is that started on Thursday and there were no confirmed Snoop sightings until he showed up on the stage of the Playboy Party at another hotel at 1 a.m. Friday night.
Snoop completely missed another event he was supposed to host. But at least, he didn't pull a Prince. The Purple Rain man apparently doesn't do Texas ice. For Prince's entire band showed up to play a charity concert where the lowest-cost, face-value ticket ran $1500, but the headliner never did. And no one seems quite sure why.
Or if he's actually in town or not.
Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino isn't so mysterious. Just flaky. The Jersey Shore reality star was spotted all over the Metroplex — and he seemed to find every camera within 50 miles. He just didn't ever find his way to the party he was hosting.
Maybe, the NFL forced The Situation to cancel it like the league did with Michael Vick and his planned Friday night bash — to protect its image. Do you really want The Situation linked to the Super Bowl in any way? However intangibly.
Kid Rock was more than NFL approved, headlining several high-profile shows for Pepsi. Of course when he started calling Dallas' weather "Shit" on stage, more than a few suits nervously fidgeted in their chairs. Hey, Kid Rock doesn't fib.
"The snow messed us up," former Dallas Mavericks standout Michael Finley says. "I'm not going to lie. I was hyping Texas up. But the snow got us."
Super Bowl XLV has morphed into a race between celebs and sportswriters to see who can rip on North Texas' inability to handle some ice with more panache. So far, both sides are losing. Sure, this very well could be the worst Super Bowl week in history (sorry Dallas, even Atlanta's 2000 Ice Bowl doesn't compare because that only affected one night of the week).
Yet, there is one place where all the celebrity snubs, sportswriter complaints and absurd logistics (too-far-spread-out "North Texas" is still the real problem with XLV, the Houston equivalent would be if major Final Four events were held in The Woodlands and Kemah as well as downtown) melt away. In butter charm.
Those who step into Dean Fearing's restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton cannot help but walk out feeling better about Dallas and the whole week. It's not so much the food, which is excellent, as it is the Fearing force. Fearing may not have talked to every single person who has come into his restaurant Super Bowl week, but it sure seems like he has.
Fearing's arms-out way has become even more important than his maple-black peppercorn soaked beef tenderloin.
I first encountered Fearing's people power when I stopped in his restaurant for a solo lunch during a break in a Texas golf trip a few years ago. Fearing's Restaurant was already starting to get lavish national pub and the place was still pretty hopping for later in the afternoon. To be honest, I don't remember all that much about the food.
What I do recall is Fearing coming over to say hi to the guy in golf clothes, welcome him to his place and tell a few funny stories. Fearing had no clue I was a reporter and he wasn't trying to kiss up. He was just being himself. He spent just as much time with a group of lunching grandmothers.
Now, with the Super Bowl in town — and things not going anywhere close to as planned — Fearing has upped his game even more. He's a one man chamber of commerce for anyone noshing on his high-end cuisine.
"That guy should be mayor," more than one sportswriter's remarked after visiting Fearing's. "Or, at least give lessons to Jerry Jones."
When Fearing's asked about this on one of his rounds around his restaurant, he shrugs it off.
"I'm just being myself," he says. "What's there to be grumpy about?"
Well, now that you bring it up ... No, not here. This is the Super Bowl XLV's whine-free zone. Maybe, the big game's only one.
Let's book Snoop, Kid Rock and Prince a table for three.