Super Bowl LI reason for camaraderie in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Super Bowl LI reason for camaraderie in Nevada County

The scene at Margarita's Restaurant in Grass Valley started out calm at the beginning of Sunday's big game, whether it be to gather with friends and family, or to reminisce on sporting memories of the past. It didn't take long, though, before there wasn't a seat in the sports bar to be found.

While the majority there were rooting for an Atlanta Falcons upset over the New England Patriots, most admitted that their Super Bowl allegiances weren't as important as just being there with their friends and family.

"I'm rooting for the Falcons," Grass Valley's Jane Hecker said. "I like to root during the Super Bowl, and for Tom Brady to retire."

Hecker sat next to her family during the game, including her two other sisters, Joy and Joan. Jane, Joy and Joan are triplets.

"I don't want them to come back," Joan Cleary said while the Patriots were still scoreless. "But they need to score one touchdown."

"I'm just coming to our local place to watch because of their sports," Nevada City's Anne Parker said. "This is one of the most popular places for football and baseball. I'm rooting for the Falcons because I'm a Raider fan and the Patriots have won it enough."

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Lilli Ingrasci was one of the few Patriots fans in tow at Margarita's. She's a recent convert from the San Diego Chargers.

"Forget the Chargers," Ingrasci said following the Chargers' decision to relocate to Los Angeles. "I need a new team."

Ingrasci likes rooting for Tom Brady because she served him and other high profile players while in San Diego once.

"I'm rooting for Tom Brady because I waited on him in San Diego, he's a good tipper," Ingrasci recalled.

Watching the Patriots reminded longtime Margarita's patron "Mitch" Mitchell of his dislike of New England, stretching back to his time in the 1960s when he re-enlisted to be stationed in Germany, yet was placed in Boston instead.

"They stationed me in Massachusetts and I hate New England," Mitchell, a Vietnam veteran, said of his time in the armed services. "I volunteered for a freakin' war to get out of New England, especially Boston".

Later in life, Mitchell recalled being hired to recover Joe Montana's trophies and Super Bowl rings after one of his marriage splits when working as a police officer and private security for the teams.

Mitchell also recalled being sent over to quiet a party held by John Matuszak, who played for the Oakland Raiders from 1976-1982.

"I walk in and go over to the stereo, reach in the back and pull on a handful of wires," Mitchell recalled.

"I'm going to stop you in your ground," Matuszak said to Mitchell.

"You keep this up I'll break your nose," Mitchell recalled saying to the NFL player before following through with his threat.

"Blood was coming out and he's chasing me," Mitchell recalled. "And I started laughing. I ran out the double doors outside by the pool. I side step him, trip him, and he's in the pool."

Later, Mitchell remembered Matuszak ordering white wine when at functions so as not to repeat his boisterous ways.

To contact Staff Writer Elias Funez, email efunez@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.