Fans Prepare to Be Bowled Over : Football Is the Name of the Game for Sunday Parties

Times Staff Writer

It is the day when a turnover isn't something filled with apples, when a sack isn't a paper bag, when the spread isn't something you put on bread.

Sunday is also the day when the President is sworn in again, but, trivialities aside, it is the day when professional football determines whether the San Francisco 49ers or the Miami Dolphins are the champs.

Just as on New Year's Eve, some merrymakers will spend Super Bowl Sunday in a boisterous commercial setting, while some will be among friends in a home. For just about everyone, it will be tube time. Total tubulence. And a time for eating, including crow.

Football Faithful Six years ago a marketing consultant in Santa Barbara, Rick Slade, irreverently began something called the Church of Monday Night Football. It is a church that finally gets to meet on a Sunday.

On Super Sunday, just as they did before the Monday night games, they will recite their commandments:

--Honor thy holy point spread . . . for it is right on.

--Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's beer.

--Thou shalt not commit adultery during half time.

--Thou shalt stay tuned until the final gun . . . for the point spread may change.

--Forgive those who bet against the home team . . . for they know not what they do.

Gathering Flock "We usually reserve Sundays for the more traditional religious observances," Slade said. "But all along, in view of the fact that ABC pioneered Monday night football, one of our goals has been to have them telecast the Super Bowl."

This now about to happen, Slade and his flock will gather at noon inside one of what they call their chapels--Derf's Cafe--their leader wearing his special cap consisting of half a football.

Like nearly everyone else in the nation, they will be watching on television what the sports experts like to call the ultimate game. Although, as former running back Duane Thomas sagely observed: "If it's the ultimate, how come they're playing it again next year?"

Be that as it may, sports fans play them one party at a time. And in keeping with the spirit of the Super Bowl, humble indeed will be some of the observances by the faithful.

Take the modest bash hosted by movie and TV producer Pierre Cossette. All he does is rent Chasen's for the afternoon and have over a few friends, 400 or so, to watch the game.

This will be the 10th year of it. Cossette has a dozen color TV sets installed, festoons the walls of the classy dining hall with National Football League team banners, dresses the waiters in referee outfits and hands an official game program to each arriving guest.

These will include Johnny Carson, Howard Cosell, Suzanne Pleshette, Bob Newhart, Karl Malden, Dyan Cannon, Ernest Borgnine.

Year after year the restaurant, which normally is closed on Sunday afternoons, implores Cossette to let it include its famous chili for the game party.

"But I remain firm," he said. "The only stuff available is what you could get if you were at the stadium--hot dogs, peanuts, beer, ice cream bars."

Even the concession lines. "Although we will have waiters, most of the guests will be going directly to the kitchen to get what they want."

As at most get-togethers, there will be a pool on the score of the game. "We have three boards--for $5, $25 and $100 a square," Cossette said. "Everybody makes this their first stop."

Las Vegas, of course, also does things in humble style, and the day on which everybody becomes a party animal is no exception.

Half-Time Show At the Golden Nugget, which is having an invitation-only tailgate party, the theater ballroom will be divided into four living room sets. Lest there be a lull during half time, the Las Vegas High School band will play live during the intermission.

Not to be outdone, half time at the affair in the Congo Room at the Sahara will be occupied with a performance by the cheerleaders from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Here in town, the beertenders will be busier than usual, some watering holes having their most active day of the year. At the Sports Deli in Century City, for instance, it will be standing room only. Reservations for the 300 seats in the restaurant and the 40 seats in the lounge began being taken last summer and have long since been filled.

"For $15 the fans get a bottle of champagne, all they can eat from a buffet and the opportunity to watch the entire contest on two giant-screen sets," said general manager Edmond Guenoun.

No umbrellas will be permitted.

While much of the nation will be watching the game, it isn't everywhere that it can be done in Southern California style.

Portable Sets Actor Rod Steiger, for example, plans to be on the beach in front of his Malibu home with a portable set. Composer Bill Conti plans to peek at the screen while sailing to Catalina with his family aboard their 41-foot ketch.

For much of the citizenry, though, Super Sunday will be a day to stay put and have the home field advantage.

Most of the residents of Bellflower probably don't realize it, but one of their own--now age 74--is still enshrined in the National Football League record book after 51 years.

On Dec. 3, 1933, while playing for the Cincinnati Reds against the Brooklyn Dodgers--both of them professional football teams at the time--Gil Lefebvre returned a punt 98 yards. Twice the record has been tied, but never broken.

"As usual, my wife, Ethel, and I will be watching the Super Bowl at home," said Lefebvre, uncle of former Dodgers infielder Jim Lefebvre. "We have television sets in the living room, bedroom, den and kitchen. All of them will be on so that we won't miss anything, no matter where we are."

With one exception.

And as is his custom, Dr. Warren Procci will spend an hour or so Sunday afternoon washing his Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit in the driveway of his San Marino home.

Procci, director of residency training in psychiatry at Harbor UCLA Hospital, will be able to observe both clean tackles and a clean car thanks to a portable TV set he plans to have on during his weekly ritual.

The Beautiful People, the Ordinary People, most will share a common bond beginning at 3 p.m.

Even the dearly departed. Seven years ago, football fan Elbert Hausam suffered sudden death, as it were. During the expected four hours of Sunday's game, there will be a cold can of beer and a television set resting on his grave at Rockville Cemetery in Solano County.

"Several months ago his son, Barry, stuck a wooden sign in the ground near the grave," the son's wife, Cathie, said by phone from their Fairfield home. The sign read: "49er Faithful 24 years."

When the team made it to the finals, cemetery superintendent Russ Workman said he decided to have one of the gravediggers, Steve Samo, place the beer and TV set. "It will be nice to have another fan to watch the game with," he quoted the digger as saying.

Among the living, Mayor Tom Bradley, as is his custom, will watch the swineskin spectacle with his wife, Ethel, in his home. City Councilman John Ferraro, his chief opponent in the mayoral race, will be at the home of a friend with whom he and others regularly watch "Monday Night Football."

James Caan will be watching in his Bel-Air home with his 8-year-old son, Scott. Ann-Margret will be watching in her Beverly Hills home with her husband, Roger Smith.

End of Party From 1958 to 1973, attorney Paul Caruso used to give a party in his Hancock Park home after the annual Rams-49er tussle here. Such became the turnout--eventually exceeding 1,000--that one year he encountered a freeloader who had no idea what the host looked like, at which point Caruso discontinued the parties.

But, for the fourth year now, he will be giving a Super Bowl party, complete with lasagna. "We expect at least 70 people. It's taking on ominous overtones," he joked.

Home will be a popular place Sunday, a fact not lost upon the supermarket chains. As are some of the others, Ralphs will offer a selection of party trays in its deli sections.

"It has become bigger every year, letting us do the catering," said Al Marasca, senior vice president for marketing of Ralphs Grocery Co. Sandwich, cheese and potato salad trays range from $2.90 to $3.45 per person, minimum order 10 people.

Suitcase of Beer A new concept among major breweries for this year's game revelry is the suitcase of beer, according to John Mas, alcoholic beverage section manager for Safeway Stores Inc.

Guzzler's travels.

"It is 24 cans of beer in a luggage-type container, taking the 12-pack one step further," he said. As a special for the Super Bowl, Safeway stores are offering a suitcase of Miller's High Life for $6.99, with a $1 refund available from the brewery.

For those unable to be near a TV set, let there be tape.

George C. Scott, who once starred in a movie about a dolphin and currently is playing Benito Mussolini before the cameras in Yugoslavia, is having publicist Jim Mahoney tape the Super Bowl for him and has sworn everyone on the set to secrecy as to the outcome.

Same for Victoria Principal, who is shooting a "Dallas" episode in Hong Kong and is having her boyfriend tape the game.

Then there are those whose vital interests compel them to be away from home. Such as horseplayers.

Ever considerate, Santa Anita not only will show the game on its 80 monitors during the racing program but will keep the plant and concession counters open long after the final event, so patrons can stay and watch the football contest until its conclusion.

Although it is heresy, there are those who frankly, my dear, don't give a damn about the game.

For them, Sunday afternoon is an ideal time to catch a movie that normally would require standing in line an hour.

"For those who want to get away from the tube, we have the pleasant solution," said Robert Selig, president of the California Theater Assn. Of course, as has happened in previous years, don't be surprised if that patron across the aisle, wearing a headset and listening to something on the radio, lets out a whoop at odd moments.

Finally, consider Westwood real estate developer Tom Safran, who has chosen to spend the magic day on the beach in Florida.

"Not only didn't my Chicago Bears make it to the Super Bowl, but I just observed a key birthday, and I want to spend the day contemplating it all," he said.

Safran has just plunged across the 40-year line, which carries more penalties than either team will want to get Sunday.

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