Larry Csonka was a 237-pound fullback who was getting the ball on third-and-short, who everybody knew was getting the ball on third-and-short, who still wasn’t denied on third-and-short.
So you think he’s going to let a bunch of NFL owners, whose pockets weigh more than they do, stop him this time?
Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles.
That’s my prediction, in that order, for the next three Super Bowls to be divvied up Tuesday as owners meet in Charlotte, N.C.
It will be a day of celebration for South Florida, for the bid committee headed by Rodney Barreto, for the Dolphins and especially Dolphins owner Steve Ross, who tossed $450 million into the mix to bring the spectacle back to Miami for the first time since 2010.
After spending that much to renovate his stadium, Ross is taking no chances. He’s calling on Csonka, the Dolphins’ Hall of Famer, to deliver South Florida’s presentation to the 31 other owners. Inside that conference room, Zonk will be making points as only Zonk can.
(OPINION: Stephen Ross, Dolphins deserve Super Bowl)
But there are plenty of other reasons for owners to line up Super Bowls starting in early 2019 the way I’ve outlined.
Atlanta has college football’s national title game set for Jan. 8, 2018. The Final Four is headed there in the spring of 2020. So the 2019 Super Bowl slides nice and cozy into the Southeast’s new Title Town and into that new, $1.4 billion retractable-roof Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Barreto says he’d prefer the 2019 game for the simple reason it would bolster his case when bidding opens for the 2022 game. Barreto, if you haven’t caught on, is a firm believer Miami should host every Super Bowl, and you can’t fault the guy for that. There’s one wrinkle that makes this scenario just a tad tenuous, which we’ll address in a minute.
Los Angeles (2021)
The NFL originally planned to award only two SBs in Charlotte. Logic tells you the change was to accommodate the Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles and to provide a shot in the arm to the 80,000-seat “NFL Disney World” in Inglewood, just outside of Los Angeles. The facility, which has a world-record price of $2.6 billion going in (and actual costs hardly ever exceed original estimates, right?), is scheduled to open for the 2019 season.
Owners could place the 2020 game in L.A., but that would mean committing before anyone has a clue on whether the Rams can quickly hammer out growing pains associated with new facilities (Are concession lines flowing? Restrooms? Security? And the biggie: L.A. traffic?). Most believe owners would prefer to play it safe, give the Rams a full season to break in the joint, then plop the SB there.
The wild card
It wasn’t until Barreto’s group pointed it out that everybody realized there’s a massive opportunity and responsibility attached to 2020: It marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the NFL, in what was then called the American Professional Football Conference. Bill Belichick and the Patriots did not dominate that American Conference, possibly because neither had yet been invented. Ditto for inflation gauges.
Barreto attended this year’s Super Bowl, the 50th, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He came away feeling that if Miami gets the magical 100, his committee should capitalize to make it feel extra special.
The question is whether NFL owners might get visions of No. 100 amid the glitz and glamor of L.A. — Hollywood, movie stars, Ed Hochuli on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, etc. If you care to wager on a semi-longshot, L.A. in 2020 and Miami in 2021 would be it.
Me? I’m putting all my chips on Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles.