I have not worked the day after the Super Bowl since 1996. It’s simple to write that act off as a childish response to a very bad hangover, but there’s more to it than that. To paraphrase a line from REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore,” what started out as a hangover, has grown stronger.
Like many of you, the Super Bowl is a very important part of my family history. For the record, this is not because of any success our team has ever had. As lifelong Cleveland Browns fans, the Fawcett's should by all logical standards hate professional football. Rooting for the Browns is the equivalent of rooting for a prostate exam. It’s very uncomfortable and demoralizing, and you have to think there’s a better way to achieve the same end result.
The Fawcett’s embrace the Super Bowl for one reason – Super Party, the greatest Super Bowl party to ever hit Louisville.
From the early morning chill
Of a snowy Sunday in January,
It takes its first breaths.
Created by one, given purpose by the many,
It returns with the fire and fury out of which the legend was born.
Prepare yourselves. The day of reckoning is upon us.
- excerpt from the Super Party 1997 invitation
I think that piece of literary brilliance accurately sums up the passion my family puts into their celebrations. Incidentally, that party didn’t actually occur because my dad decided to have a heart attack that weekend. Oddly enough, my dad had a stroke during the 2000 Super Bowl as well, which you would think might cause the men in my family to be a bit skittish that day each year. Alas, we persevere. Any by persevere, I mean drink heavily.
Super Party was the brainchild of my oldest brother, a successful and highly intelligent man who had an incredible ability to transform each Super Bowl Sunday into a world class event.
If you ever happened to be around Crews Drive, located in the geographical taint between Buechel and Fern Creek, in the late 1990’s, you would have noticed the oncoming of Super Party. Two giant seven foot wooden football helmets painted like that year’s participating teams were placed in his front yard. One year, the Green Bay Packers organization sent my brother the exact color specifications so that we could get the helmet just right. Instead, we got drunk and played ping-pong for an hour, then just painted the damn thing green and yellow.
Like any good party, the devil is in the details. In 1998, my brother was renovating his basement. Since it looked like a crack house anyway, we decided to paint the walls. The top edge was bordered with past Super Bowl teams and final scores. My other brother and mom painted a football field featuring tiny horses and wedges of cheese (Broncos vs. Packers). Derogatory phrases and images of Art Modell could be seen throughout the basement. And for the record, his basement would never look that awesome again.
Super Party usually had a theme song that could be heard by calling my brother’s answering machine. One year it was set to the Monday Night Football theme (not the douchey Hank William’s song, but the one that sounds like a gang of Vikings are coming to burn down your house and eat all your pita chips and hummus). Another time it was to the Monkees theme and contained the lines, “We encourage all to be naked, and floss after every meal; Have your pets spayed or neutered, and party with a lot of zeal.”
In the backyard, a makeshift goal post made of PVC pipe was erected for a supposed field goal kicking contest. In reality, it just ended up being a bunch of idiots violently swinging and missing a football.
Super Party always began at noon, which you would think would be a recipe for disaster. Sure, there was plenty of drunkenness, but even so, no one ever got in a fight, fell down, threw up, made a scene, cried, humiliated themselves or someone else, or tried to drive home drunk. When was the last time you were at a packed-to-the-walls hardcore party and none of those things happened?
In 1998, Fox 41 decided to cover Super Party. On the Friday before the game, Fox sent anchorman John Young, who my wife and I often referred to as “The Shunt,” because his on-air ear piece always seemed to poke out of the side of his head as if it was draining fluid from his brain.
Young did a nice piece about the effort we put into painting the basement walls, and even made the controversial move of putting my brother on television (controversial because A) Fawcett’s have faces made for radio, and B) we drop more f-bombs per sentence than any family in the free world).
But what I remember most about that evening was that between takes, Young would sing loudly and to no one in particular the Eagles “Take It to the Limit.” For some reason, that seemed like a bold move on his part. His voice was very tender though and I think we all sort of fell in love with him that night.
On the day of Super Party, a young Candyce Clifft came to cover the event. I think to this day, most of us feel a tinge of guilt over the treatment Clifft received. Not that anyone was mean or inappropriate, but because she had to endure so much ridiculousness and utter bullsh*t.
The piece, which I still have on videotape, consists of my boozed up brother, his face unnecessarily accented with eye black, making ridiculous statements about physically abusing Green Bay Packer fans. Clifft also spent a good ten minutes interviewing our Scottish friend T-Bone about his reactions to the strange phenomenon known as the Super Bowl. Little did Clifft know, T-Bone was actually my friend Justin from New Jersey, who if he had enough beer could pull off a reasonable Scottish brogue. Unfortunately that interview never made it on TV, as someone at the party decided to rat us out to Clifft. That chode was never invited to Super Party again. (Incidentally, Fox 41's Elizabeth Woolsey would call me personally the following year to decline our invitation to again cover Super Party. I'm pretty sure it's still her greatest regret in life.)
Eventually, my brother got married, had kids, and moved and as a result, Super Party faded away, another victim of life’s downhill progress. For a few years, I tried to keep the magic alive, twice constructing a fully operational casino in my basement. But as fun as it was, it never felt like anything more than an imitation. If Super Party was Three’s Company, then my party was The Ropers. Decent enough, but lacking all the sexuality and crazy misunderstandings.
Last year, I threw away the seven foot wooden helmets that were a staple of Super Party. For years they had been rotting away in my garage and they needed to be put out of their misery. Damn if I didn't want to cry as the garbage men loaded them in the back of their truck that morning.
Super Party was special. I guarantee you that 100% of the people who ever attended a Super Party will tell you definitively that it was the greatest Super Bowl party ever. It worked because my brother not only knew how to make the experience a complete event, but because he knew how to fill his house with fun and interesting people who genuinely wanted to share the day together. It wasn’t about seeing how drunk you could get or trying to get laid or even about the game itself. It was about laughing and foolishness, all made possible by a good guy who has always spent his life treating people well.
So I won’t go to work this Monday and it won’t be because I have a hangover. In fact, for the third year in a row, I’ll be attending my daughter’s volleyball tournament instead of a Super Bowl party.
For years, I spent the Monday after recovering from Super Party, which then morphed into recovering from just…a party. Then staying home sort of became a sad tradition. Super Party is dead. Long live Super Party.
Photos courtesy of the Fawcett Family Archives