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Commentary: Super Bowl - Eagles win game, Minnesota wins the experience

Someone tweeted last week that it's better to be in a cold place surrounded by warm hearts than in a warm place stuck with cold people. The state of Minnesota was certainly the former as the host state of Super Bowl 52. The only complaint overhea...

Someone tweeted last week that it's better to be in a cold place surrounded by warm hearts than in a warm place stuck with cold people.

The state of Minnesota was certainly the former as the host state of Super Bowl 52. The only complaint overhead was the temperature and of course as a life-long Minnesotan I didn't think it was that cold.

While preparing stories for last week's sports section, I started a conversation with a member of the BBC, who attended the last few Super Bowls. He said Radio Row was a bit crowded, but added the volunteers and people of Minnesota were overwhelmingly nice.

The media work center located at the Mall of America in Bloomington was filled with foreign reporters from all parts of the globe. The weather was a key topic of everyone's conversations, but it was the only negative heard in the two days I was there.

Former Minnesota Viking and current Sirius Satellite Radio personality Rich Gannon, who lives in Minnesota, said the cities hit it out of the park as a host site.

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"I know there were people who were a little upset with the weather and how it got cold all of a sudden, but look, this is what you get in Minnesota this time of year," Gannon said. "I think everyone is going out of their way to be Minnesota friendly and hospitable and I've talked to a lot of different people around the National Football League and different owners and lot of players who have come through and been a part of the many different events of this week and everyone has just loved the experience.

"I think the Mall of America has knocked it out of the park with Radio Row. My friends at Sirius Satellite Radio, it's worked out for them. I just loved the NFL House. That's an incredible setup they have over their next to First Avenue. The Convention Center has been great. I've been down there a lot this week doing a lot of stuff with the NFL Experience and I think the stadium is going to blow people away."

The Mall of America was filled with former and current players who were being interviewed on the radio waves or television or by print media. Friday, while typing about Pierz's Ben Herold meeting former Pittsburgh Steelers Hines Ward, my childhood idol strolled through the media work center. There, wearing his yellow Hall of Fame coat, was none other than the NFL's all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys.

That doesn't happen during a normal work day in Brainerd.

Nor does the chance to talk to a three-time Super Bowl winner in Mark Schlereth, who was a teammate of Pequot Lakes head football coach Chip Lohmiller's in 1992 when both won a ring with the Washington Redskins.

Schlereth is now an ESPN personality and was in town doing work for the sports station.

"Minnesota is great," Schlereth said. "Obviously it's cold and it's snowy, but it's been phenomenal as a host city. I spent most of the week at the Mall of America, which was awesome. I loved it. Minnesota has been awesome and I played in the first Super Bowl here in '92 with the Redskins. I love Minnesota. It's great."

Schlereth played in two other Super Bowls in warm weather and said he would prefer a warmer climate, but had nothing bad to say about how Minneapolis and the surrounding communities prepped for the big event.

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"Radio Row was easy for me and the cold is always tough to be outside and to do all that stuff is a tough deal, but the bottom line is the city has been great," he said. "The city has done the best they could. I've enjoyed the heck out of it. It's been a cool experience."

Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis was a hotbed of action all week complete with snowmobile tricks, cross country skiing, zip lines, NFL experiences, ice sculptures, lots of hot chocolate and even more people wearing blue winter coats as part of the volunteer brigade that welcomed NFL fans to Minneapolis.

About the only thing that could have made this Minnesota Super Bowl better is if the Vikings became the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium.

"That would have been off the charts," said former Viking and current director of college scouting Scott Studwell. "We have such a great fan base. That stadium would have been unbelievable. Unfortunately we aren't playing in it. It was certainly a sad moment in my life and a sad moment in a lot of other people's lives, but we'll push the restart button and do it all over.

"Every year you have to add some new pieces, but I think the nucleus of this team is good. We have to figure out the quarterback situation and add a piece here and there, but I think for the most part we'll have some tough choices with some contracts coming up, but that's what they pay me to do. I'm just going out there trying to find new guys."

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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