My seats in club level thanks to former Redskin Shaun Suisham...sort of.
Well, my 4 nights in Miami for Super Bowl 44 were that good it is taking me a full week to get my story up. The Snownami that I came back to in D.C. did not help either. Anyway, the weekend was a total blast, and I could not have dreamed of a better weekend. Knowing that I would be writing this piece before I left, one night I decided to introduce myself to celebrities as Shaun Suisham to see what would happen (we kind of look alike)...little did I know the amazing adventure this would take me, including sitting front row Club Level next to Tom Arnold at the Super Bowl. I should first state that I got to talk with Shaun several times throughout training camp this past August, and I genuinely got to meet a great, family guy (which makes this story all the better). Quick note, all my pictures are on our HH Facebook. Check em out.
I flew into West Palm Beach in the early evening with a college buddy where we hit the town hard...real hard (getting back to my old man's house at 6:30 am).
I wake up on my bedroom floor at 8am. I guess I had the brilliant idea to check my email before going to bed and I passed out while my laptop was powering up. I showered up and we headed over to media day at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center. A lot of familiar faces were there including Mike Wise (and producer/friend Chris Johnson), Ken Harvey, Doc Walker, and Chris Cooley (see that interview here). With my recorder and camera in hand, this is where the fun began....
The convention center floor was setup with tables everywhere to the tune of about 100 shows doing live broadcasting. Celebrities and stars made their way from table to table on a fixed schedule escorted by security and a manager. Since I was a recent addition (and obviously affiliated with no radio stations), I made all my interview attempts as the celebrities walked from table to table. The first person that caught my eye was Andy Rooney, who was propped in a chair Weekend at Bernie's style. People would come and go and take pictures without conversation and it really like he was a fountain more than a person. I decided to go the other route with dialogue and it was an instant crash and burn. He seemed offended I didn't know he was a Big Blue fan and that he attended every single Super Bowl for the last 30 years. Time to move on.
As I made my way on the major floor...I realized my instant need for coffee and Gatorade. To my right Jamie Foxx, who has a Sirius radio show, was interviewing Usher. To my left Jim Rome was interviewing Sugar Shane Mosley. Sorry, Ken. Someone already has the nickname coined "Sugar." I say you two fight for it.
Then straight ahead I see Floyd Mayweather and Chris Rock make their way to their respectful tables. Bingo. I decided to follow these guys around. First, let me say the majority of these radio interviews I stopped to listen to were painfully boring. They asked the same questions of "Who do you like in the Super Bowl?" and "Is Peyton Manning the best QB ever?" Chris Rock and David Spade, who were pushing their new movie Grownups, never fell in such traps. When asked about what team would win, Chris Rock replied "the black coach!" and Spade fittingly "I think the white one will win."
Floyd Mayweather absolutely dominated the interviews, but when he shared the interview with Chris Rock...he was as quiet as can be. Chris Rock:
"Shane Mosley? Really??? He's like 85...I could beat him. What I'd really like to see is you fight Shane Mosely and Bernard Hopkins in the same day! (pause...Floyd has head down laughing). Everyone wants to see you fight Paccy. Just do it. Heck...I'd even pay $50 to see you and Paccy argue about something!!!"
At that point Rock just started hammering Mayweather about his ridiculous watch. I seriously could not stop staring at it since it glittered like a disco ball. Chris Rock:
"OH MY GOD! Hold up...look at that watch! My God. No one wants to hear me talk...let me take my headphones off and put them on the watch....people would much hear from that. How much that thing cost you?!"
Chris' security was not too keen on Chris taking a break to talk to me, which is why I only managed this pathetic measly piece:
Next I got to speak with the Lingerie Bowl girls who were advertising fans to come to their championship game that Saturday night. It was clear that they take their competition seriously, which made the conversation actually quite good. I asked questions about what kind of dirty tactics they use to tackle and they responded that over time they learned how to wrap up a girl well enough they don't need to pull hair, etc. I ended on the question, which I'm sure everyone is dying to know the answer of:
Is there an advantage having fake breasts?
Erin (on right): (laughing) "No...they hurt."
Fair enough. I was unable to get closer than 10 feet to Snoop Dogg. I of course wanted him to do a quick free-style with Hogs Haven. His bouncer, who's forearms were bigger than my torso, continually shooed me away. Mark Sanchez I then saw cutting through the crowd. I got my introduction out and as soon as mentioned "Redskins," he never looked back and said "I'm only talking to whoever [his rep] says." What a wussy. I was actually happy for Sanchez's success but just curious to see what his season would have been like after seeing the amount of helmets Campbell took to the chest.
We arrive into our South Beach Hotel and get ready for Ocho Cinco's party at a private mansion, which my old man was able to get us on the list for. We get to the party around 11pm and walk in with Spike Lee. No red carpet entry with the cameras, but ah well. My friend and I are chatting it up when I see Marvin Lewis, the Bengals Head Coach. I go up and introduce myself and he is absolutely rude as can be despite standing off. Multiple people, including some Bengals fans that were there, said he has been that way to everyone all night. I guess I shouldn't have opened with, "My friend and I were just talking Redskins earlier today, specifically how Steve Spurrier had never heard of sleet before."
What I found odd is that the DJ would stop playing music for 30 minutes at a time. Not great for a party. It then came to me now was a good time for me to start my "I am Shaun Suisham" experiment. I look over and there is Brady Quinn talking to several people including some cute girls.
Shaun Suisham: "Brady, how are you doing?"
Brady Quinn: (smiles and continues conversation)
Shaun Suisham: (without hesitation) I'm Shaun Suisham...from the Redskins."
Brady Quinn: (immediately stops conversation) "What's up buddy? Wow...how you been?"
I go into my tough times with missing the two kicks and that my family and daughter are still in Washington. I turn the conversation back to him where we talk about his chances of staying in Cleveland, Charlie Weis, and Jimmy Clausen. First off...Brady is a great dude. Super nice. His stay in CLE is up in the air but he is hell bent on playing next year and it looks as if Derek Anderson is the small favorite. Of course he'd like to stay in Cleveland, so nothing new there. I told Brady the horrible stories I head about Clausen's cockiness and poor leadership around campus. Brady didn't necessarily deny it, but changed the subject back to Charlie Weis who he had a lot of high praise for. This went on for twenty minutes before I said my good bye. Walking away laughing, I see TO and Ocho Cinco making their way through the party towards their cabana. Groupies everywhere pawing...I walk right up.
Suisham: "What up guys...it's Shaun Suisham."
They both stop surprised but excited, shake my hand, ask how it's going...then keep moving towards their spot. At this point any group my friend meets he introduces me as Suisham. There were fans and girls following me around the party and with the lack of music, we decide to hit the road.
We leave the party and head to Fontainebleu, the spot to be in Miami. If you've ever been to Circle Bar at the Hard Rock Vegas, it's the same type of scene/vibe. Suisham is absolutely killing it at this venue.
After enjoying time at our pool where I spent equal time sharing my daquiri and iPhone for Capitals updates on their awesome come-back win over the Pens, we walked along the beach to where the NFL stage was setup. Some awful band just finished playing and then walked by Eli Manning and Marissa Miller into a party of tents? We immediately walk around to the front of the hotel and it's red ropes galore in front of the W Hotel. VIP only. My one friend tries to talk his way in but the bouncers are having no part of it. Damn. But wait? Why not try Suisham. My friends reply "No way that works." Nothing to lose. I walk right up in my sneaker, bathing suit, and "I pull out" t-shirt.
Suisham: "Yea, I'm Shaun Suisham...kicker for the Redskins."
The guy immediately pulls back the rope and I walk right in. I wave my friends in as the rope is still up. As we approach the pool party, there is another level of security. I drop the same line...right in. Over the next few hours (as Shaun Suisham) I'm talking with Kevin Connelly, Antoine Walker, and Charles Oakley. My friend shouted, "Quick...take a picture!!! Antoine Walker is paying the bill!!" Classic.
I never would have noticed if it wasn't for a photographer getting his camera destroyed that A-Rod was sitting on a chair directly next to me. I started chatting it up with an older guy standing in our area. When I mentioned my name, he invited me to his cabana for drinks. That's when he introduced me to his son and all his friends (age 10) who were so excited to meet a NFL kicker. I was like "oh man, this is too far." My friend said under his breath "If you sign any autographs, make sure to spell it wrong like Sean Zuisham." Oh man...just as I finished laughing and turned around the kid comes out with a soccer ball asking how far can I kick it. Luckily the pool was packed and I said "next time."
Since it was getting late, we decided to head back and shower up since they were getting ready for the night party, which we heard Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, and a slew of others were attending. When we returned to the W Hotel we noticed a huge entrance to a private party. Red ropes...the whole nine. I dropped Suisham again and they weren't having any part of it. Right as they asked me to stand to the side, I look over and it's Matt Stafford. I naturally introduce myself, Shaun, and tell about how things got screwed up for me since I just flew into town and my name is off the list. He assured me it's no problem and he'll get me in. At this point I'm starting to think I'm Shaun Suisham.
Anyway, my friend and I realize we don't have tickets to the Super Bowl yet. We ended up meeting friends at Emeril's restaurant for a drink. In the entrance my friend recognizes a former Giant player wearing a Super Bowl ring. We talk to him and he runs one of the largest ticket broker sites in the NYC area. I mention my name (Suisham) and he immediately invites us to eat at his table and that tickets won't be a problem. Huh? As I'm walking through to our table, I see Emeril himself cooking away. At this point an older lady is overly excited and asks to take a picture with me. I agree, but then realize this is getting a bit out of hand. Since the friends we met were leaving I decide to leave as well having thanked the inviter for his hospitality.
We head back to Fontainebleu and there I see Chris and Tanner Cooley. I filled them in on the Suisham successes and mention that the only real place it failed was to Club Liv, which was the club right where we were standing. Tanner was gracious enough to let me roll in with them, and we chatted for awhile. Chris wanted to see "Suisham" in action so I approached 3 gorgeous girls standing by themselves. I mentioned my name and the party I was with and I might as well have told them "Hello ladies. I recently just discovered I have lupus and contracted a never-discovered STD. Would you like to meet my friends?" We got a laugh out of that and I then headed back out of the club to the main bar area where my friends were. They happened to be talking to cute girls and when they found out I was a NFL kicker, they wanted to take us to a strip club immediately. At this point the Suisham thing had hit on everything I could have ever imagined. I couldn't lose. When they noticed I signed my tab with an Amex that had "Kevin" on it...I replied immediately "I get all my friends into the parties...they pay all the tabs."
Enough was enough and it was time to go home.
We still don't have tickets in hand so we decide to scalp at the stadium. We're waiting for our 1pm bus to the stadium when Ocho Cinco strolls through the lobby in his pajamas. I mean, how can you not like this guy? We make it to the stadium and it takes us all but 5 minutes to scalp 2 upper deck tickets together for face value. Next stop is the NFL Official Tailgate Party (online they were $800/pop). I realized it's a corporate-heavy event, which means mostly older people go. We decide to hang out front the tailgate entrance, which is inside the Super Bowl park. Simply asking for extras, we score 2 right away. We're in. Except for the Steve Winwood music, the party was phenomenal.
We watch the first quarter from our seats when my friend throws, "We're going to the Club Level." We make our way down and again we see the same red ropes we've seen all weekend. I tell them my name and over the next 15 minutes these two kids working security will not budge. At that point they notice the 400 level tickets in my friend's pocket and know the jig is up. As we're walking away we notice another club level entrance with a kid working with the ropes. I said, "Hello...my name is Shaun Suisham and..." You guessed it...ropes open and in we walk. We grab some beers and I have a nice chat with Stephen A Smith. We watch part of the second quarter from the tunnel and I notice 2 seats in the front row aisle that have not been used once. We make our way and sit down when a guy behind us says,
"Those are Michael Dunkin Clark's seats."
My friend replied to me, "Well, at least we know who to look for!" A short time later Tom Arnold cuts right past us to get to his seats. He looked backed and laughed, "You're not Michael Dunkin Clark!!" ... to where my friend replied, "Are you sure?" Tom Arnold shot back, "You're OK, he's not coming back." Bingo...front row club level.
All my pictures from the trip you can see on the Hogs Haven Facebook account.