Joe Henderson: The Super Bowl is not just a video game, it’s can also be a target
Just a football video game? Not with fear threats, high security, and a Black Hawk helicopter flyby.
Most people think the Super Bowl is just a football game wrapped around parties and non-stop enjoyable.
Rick Nafe understands much better. Experience taught him that it also can be a target.
In 1984, he was 4 years into his term as director of operations for Tampa Stadium when professional football’s most significant game made its first appearance in the city.
” That Super Bowl technically was the very first time an American sports building was under a terrorism hazard,” he stated.
About 3 months before the video game, a truck filled with 2,000 pounds of dynamites drove to a military substance in Beirut and detonated. The attack killed 241 U.S. service members, including 220 Militaries.
What did that relate to a football game in Tampa?
” We were informed before the game by the FBI and CIA that they had uncovered a plot to explode either the Rose Bowl or the Super Bowl,” Nafe stated. “They planned to drive a cops cars and truck as much as the stadium and blow it up.
” Then we heard that someone had robbed a military supply shop in St. Petersburg. All they robbed was police uniforms.”
Security is always an issue at a large-scale event like the Super Bowl, however that 1984 game changed everything.
This wasn’t some Hollywood movie like the 1977 thriller Black Sunday, which included an attack on the game by a psychopathic pilot in the Goodyear Blimp. This was the genuine thing.
Nafe and others associated with staging the Super Bowl currently had routine conferences about security more than a year out from the game. In spite of the clear danger, the occasion came off without a drawback, however concerns amped up by the time the game went back to Tampa in 1991
Less than two weeks before the video game, President George H.W. Bush sent out U.S. soldiers into Kuwait as part of Operation Desert Storm.
As soon as once again, Tampa Stadium was on ultra-high alert.
Multiple barriers surrounded the stadium, and security workers utilized metal-detecting wands on every individual who entered. That looks like a regular safety measure now, however it was something new against the backdrop of war.
” There was around-the-clock defense for a week or ten days before the video game,” Nafe said. “There were bomb hazards.
” We needed to clear the stadium one day due to the fact that we discovered a suspicious bundle, wrapped in black tape and things like that. We brought in the bomb squad.”
The “bundle” ended up being a football out of masking tape that employees used for a little leisure. It stuck in one of the walls.
There were temporary video boards in the corners of the stadium. Throughout the video game, a resourceful professional photographer decided to scale the scaffolding supporting one of the boards to get a much better image angle.
” He probably didn’t understand he remained in the crosshairs of 16 or 17 rifles,” Nafe stated.
Individuals bear in mind that Super Bowl, the 25-anniversary game, for Whitney Houston’s remarkable performance of the Star-Spangled Banner. Nafe remembered something else, though.
” There was a Black Hawk helicopter circling around over the top of the stadium the whole time. You might see the SWAT person in the entrance,” he stated.
” After the game was over, the pilot asked if he might do a flyby of the stadium. He went from one end of the field to the other. It’s one of the most incredible things I have actually ever seen.”
Nafe also functioned as Executive Director of the Tampa Sports Authority and later on joined the Tampa Bay Rays (then the Devil Rays) as Vice President of Operations/Facilities prior to retiring.
As Tampa prepares to host its fifth Super Bowl on February 7, Nafe knows the security measures that dominate planning for the video game. The pandemic makes complex things further. While officials capped internal attendance at 22,000, security will be simply as tight.
” I really feel sorry for the entire neighborhood that all 3 of our teams this year had to reach substantial objectives under a pandemic. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup, and the Rays remained in the World Series. Now we have the Bucs in the Super Bowl, and individuals don’t get to experience the delight of being there in individual.
” But I understand they have actually done a great task preparing yourself for this video game, and security is the highest priority.”