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County celebrates Super Bowl

Dan BurkhartDennis Hill of Grass Valley watches Super Bowl XXXVI at McGee's in Nevada City Sunday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

In the end, it probably mattered little to Nevada County residents just who won Super Bowl XXXVI.

For many, it’s simply the best excuse to party.



“We’re for the underdogs, man. The red, white and blue,” growled Jeff Wibberley of Nevada City Sunday as he downed a pint sitting atop a bar stool at McGee’s in Nevada City. “That’s what it’s all about, baby. It’s a very patriotic year, and we’re all celebrating together.”




The Super Bowl, won 20-17 by the underdog New England Patriots on a field goal as time expired, seemed much less about the game than it was about the event: Friends coming together to consume ungodly amounts of food, spirits and camaraderie, using the year’s biggest sporting event simply as a foil.

Over at the Veterans Hall in Grass Valley, nearly 200 members of Twin Cities Church gathered in front of two movie screens, blankets, coolers and chaise lounges in hand, paying homage not to a spiritual God, but one bedecked in pigskin.

“It’s all about community,” the Rev. Ron Thompson said as he munched on homemade chili in a Dixie cup. “We tell people to invite all their friends and have a good time.” It’s at least the fifth year Twin Cities Church, which meets Sundays at the vets hall, has staged such an event.

Asked who he picked to win the Super Bowl, Thompson winked and said, “the underdog.”

As he spoke, people in lawn chairs cheered for their teams, sporting St. Louis Rams pennants or New England Patriots shirts in the darkened hall.

Vickie Smith, her two children and Aileen Dunscombe – all of Colfax – spent the afternoon sprawled on blankets, pillows and sleeping bags in a corner of the room.

“This is great. I did this last year, and I didn’t even know who was playing,” said Smith, who admitted rooting for the Rams this year.

“I just want a good game,” said Brandon Silva, who said he was rooting for the Patriots, even though the Cowboys were his team.

“The chili is hot … that’s all I really know,” he said as Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins booted a 50-yard field goal to give the Rams their first and only lead of the game, with just over three minutes left in the first quarter.

At Cooper’s in Nevada City, bartender Dave Parker pronounced the crowd “OK” during the first half. “We need a West Coast team,” he said.

Arthur Sawl, who grew up in Springfield, Mass., said he was rooting for the Rams because they played in the first pro football game he attended.

“I knew the Rams when they were nothing,” he said. “I’m neutral about football. I don’t go nuts about it. It’s just a game, you know.”

Roger Whitestone of Nevada City pined for more of a local flavor. He rooted for the Patriots, but “if I could see the Raiders and 49ers in the Super Bowl, I’d die a happy man.”

“I hate the Rams,” he said. “They have to play the Niners twice a year.”

Like some smart Vegas bettors, Whitestone smelled an upset.

“You gotta remember: The Patriots are playing ‘the Lambs,'” he said, referring to a popular moniker given to the St. Louis/Los Angeles franchise during the team’s moribund years in the early and mid-1990s.

While her husband downed brewskis, Denise Wibberley reminisced about her own football days. Her brother, Doug Cosbie, was a star tight end for the Dallas Cowboys for 15 years before he retired in the early ’90s.

“I liked (former Cowboys cornerback) Everson Walls,” she said, batting her eyelashes. “He was my buddy. He used to call me ‘Legs.'”

“It doesn’t matter who wins. I just love football,” she said.


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