To verify that George Bush was getting his wish and "life was going on" there was the display of capitalism outside Tampa Stadium an hour before kickoff.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of football fans trying to buy their way into Super Bowl XXV. Obviously, the prospect of a terrorist attack wasn't sufficient to overwhelm the desire to pay $500 or more for a $150 ticket to watch three hours of football, the halftime show by Disney World, and the National anthem sung by Whitney Houston.As far as tickets were concerned, demand far exceeded supply and buyers far exceeded sellers. By kickoff time at 6:18 EST a lot of people were forced to take their hundred dollar bills across the street
from the stadium to the Sears store, where a super large-screen TV in the parking lot was showing the game free-of-charge - and where they could buy a washer and dryer, a color TV, a CD player, a Die-Hard battery and a living room set to compensate for not getting a pair of seats on the 30.
After a week of so-so anti-game and intensive anti-frivolity sentiment; after a Super Bowl buildup that included more than one observation that nothing was more important than watching war updates on CNN, game day dawned in Tampa to reveal that not everyone could find it impossible to pull away from Headline News.
The NFL was ready to stop the game, and the TV broadcast, if something major happened in the Persian to Gulf to cause ABC to pull its telecast away from Tampa Stadium. It wasn't that the game couldn't have gone on, it was that the NFL didn't want it to go on without the $45 million worth of network advertising sold by the network.
But nothing major happened - either in the Persian Gulf war or in Tampa Stadium. Other than the best football game in Super Bowl history.
The only military aircraft to fly overhead were four F-16s from nearby MacDill Air Force Base. They buzzed the stadium as soon as Whitney Houston finished the anthem to a rousing ovation and 73,813 American flags waving in the stands. It was the one area that Bills and Giants fans agreed on.
Everyone and everything entering the stadium - the boom boxes of the New York Giants players not excepted - was searched, examined and risked. Long lines stretched behind people with metal screws in their knees or bulky handbags. But there were few of the complaints generally associated with such inconveniences.
The smugness that thousands were ticketless outside the gates no doubt had something to do with the cooperative attitude. It was a privilege to be frisked. Overwhelming support for the war, and for the need to keep anything subversive and Iraqi outside the gates, no doubt had a lot more to do with it.
It was a Super Bowl Sunday with a unique mixture of football and patriotism. Super Bowl XXV t-shirts sold alongside t-shirts that said "Scud-Busters" and "Desert Storm" and "It Ain't Over Till The Fat Man Swings." American flags sold equally as well as Giants and Bills pennants - all properly inflated by Super Bowl standards.
At the half, Disney World featured kids from every state in the union whose parents are in the Persian Gulf. President Bush made a televised appearance from the White House.
"It's your mothers and fathers who are the true champions, the true heroes of our country," said the President. "God bless you all, and God bless all freedom-loving people around the world."
With that came a chorus of "America the Beautiful" and a rousing, flag-waving ovation.
That was followed by "Go Giants."
And that was followed by the second half of a Super Bowl game that, for a change, was worth watching from start to finish. A Super Snore it wasn't, not for the crowd watching in person, not for the soldiers watching on television at 5 a.m. in the Middle East.
It all meshed together Sunday in Tampa. The day the Super Bowl didn't stop the war, and the war didn't stop the Super Bowl.