Business as Usual, NFL Says : Super Bowl Plans Unchanged by Riot; Heat Calls Game

Times Staff Writer

In the wake of Monday’s riot in the Overtown section of the city, the National Football League issued a 35-word statement Tuesday afternoon announcing that all its Super Bowl activities would proceed as planned.

Nothing else was going as planned. At sundown Tuesday, violence broke out again, not only in Overtown but in the Liberty City section of town.

The Miami Heat, the National Basketball Assn. expansion team that plays in a new arena on the fringe of Overtown, postponed its game Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns, after an angry crowd, estimated at 100 people, advanced on the arena, breaking car windows before being turned away. The handful of people who had come to see the game were evacuated from the arena, with the teams, under police cover.

The Heat called the game, only after an hourlong argument with city officials.


Miami city manager Cesar Odio asked the team to call the game early Tuesday evening. Miami TV stations reported on their 6 p.m. shows that the game was off.

However, at 7:20, John Moynihan, sports director of WQAM, the Heat’s radio outlet, announced on the pregame show that the game had been called “7 minutes ago.”

Moynihan said: “There is no longer a controversy. The game has been canceled. Apparently the city called the TV stations and told them the game was off.”

Moynihan said that Heat officials then insisted that only the club or NBA Commissioner David Stern could call the game.

“The Heat and David Stern and the city (then) jointly declared that the game was off,” Moynihan said.

Moynihan said there were about 1,000 people in the arena, although other reporters said there were far fewer.

The referees driving to the game had their car windshield shattered by a rock, covering all of them with glass.

The game will be rescheduled, a team spokesman said.

Earlier Tuesday, Harry Edwards, a prominent black activist and University of California sociology professor who is here in his capacity as a counselor to 49er players, said that a disturbance of this nature had been inevitable.

“I think the real miracle is, with this kind of media attention, you don’t have more such incidents breaking out in cities with the kind of problems Miami has had to cope with,” Edwards said Tuesday morning at the 49ers’ appearance for picture day at Joe Robbie Stadium.

“It’s a national problem. It just happened to explode here. In 1965, it was Watts. In 1968, in the wake of Dr. King’s assassination, it was 105 cities across the country. This weekend, it simply happens to be Miami.

No member of the 49ers or Bengals has been directly affected.

A sportswriter here for Super Bowl XXIII, Ray Buck of the Houston Post, had a window of his rented car broken by a rock when he and his wife, Mary, inadvertently drove into the riot area Monday night.

Buck was covered with shards of safety glass, but neither of them was hurt.

Bengal receiver Eddie Brown grew up in Overtown and was an 18-year-old there during the 1982 riot.

“It was just the ones who had nothing to do (who participated). It was just something to do for them. If there was something to steal, their preference was to steal it.”