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Tom McEwen

The late Tom McEwen, sports editor of The Tampa Times from 1958-62 before being named sports editor of The Tampa Tribune in 1962, graced the Tribune sports section with his award-winning column, The Morning After, and his Breakfast Bonus notes columns were a signature offering from the 19-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year. McEwen died in June, 2011 at the age of 88. His wife, Linda, occasionally contributes past columns and exerpts to this blog.

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Super Bowl: The Greatest Show in the World

Posted Feb 11, 2012 by

Updated Feb 11, 2012 at 12:59 AM

We just experienced the 2012 Super Bowl and Madonna: the game, the Patriots and the Giants, was great, the ads spectacular and all had a good time except at the end when the New England fans got disappointed. It brought to mind our first Super Bowl here in Tampa and a letter I had saved of Tom writing to Jim Steeg, who was in charge of the games for years and years, a man unmatched in putting on the greatest show in the world, and a great personal friend of both Tom and I.

I was invited to watch the game at Val Pinchback Jr’s home with his wife, Mindy, and family and friends. It brought back memories of the monumental tasks of putting on the Super Bowl and the heartstopping problems to solve. Val Sr. was in the NFL headquarters and did all of the scheduling of the NFL team games for many, many years until his death. In 1984, Tampa’s first Super Bowl, Jim did the impossible. - Linda

Steeg: This is McEwen

They told me I could not mention the women at Hooters and your 50th birthday party.

They told me I could not mention the insurance costs of the ‘84 Super Bowl Party at the Florida Fairgrounds when you hired and allowed high wire trapeze acts and motorcycle acts on wires above the diners in the great hall there, probably the most daring of all parties.

They told me I could not mention your skills at juggling ticket allotments and the Commissioner’s Party - also not improperly recognized as Jim Steeg’s Super Bowl Party - not the wonder at who and the heck are all the people there every year?

They did not tell me I could not say I have no idea who has the second-toughest, and second-best, job in the world to you, Jim Steeg, nor who could possibly succeed you.

Remember who followed Vince Lombardi, or Bear Bryant? No one remains who could manage the greatest event in the world with the aplomb, absence of known malice, or getting a case of the crazies, of despite some acts seeming to make no one who counts angry. And how bold but lasting it was to come to Tampa for a Super Bowl, then three more, to start the Host Committee and the NFL Experience with us, and paving the way for the mid-sized American cities to get on the rotation - Tampa, Phoenix and San Diego and Jacksonville and others later.

Yet, in these tense moments, you remain the same, unsmiling, stoic, impersonal, yet loyal to friends and pro-Super Bowlers, fair and fun, if without much of a sense of humor. It did show once when you had to change the wallpaper in the bathroom for the NFL Commissioner’s wife at Saddlebrook near Tampa. And your patriotism burst through In smile and tears and gratitude when your choice, Whitney Houston, sang the great National Anthem in Tampa during the Gulf War and the tense circumstance came off brilliantly, without a hitch, and as American as the Super Bowl wants to be.

Finally, riding with you on a Saturday inspection of venues at a Super Bowl, I watched with admiration at the great Jim Steeg Juggling Act when on the car phone, you had the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Paul Brown, George Halas, and a representative of the White House while you and Brownie and Weiss settled the matter positioning of coin flip participants, or something equally critical.

Thank you, Steeg, for the fun and the lessons, helping take Tampa to the bigtime, but mostly for the unchanged friendship.


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