City officials are taking several extra security precautions for Sunday’s Super Bowl game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.
Because of the war in the Persian Gulf and subsequent terrorist fears in the days preceding one of the nation’s most visible sporting events, Tampa has requested security assistance from 18 federal, state and local agencies.
“No law enforcement agency in the world can guarantee absolute safety under any circumstance,” Bob Smith, head of Tampa’s Public Safety Administration, said Tuesday. “But I am at ease. Whenever you feel there are loose ends, that’s when you get nervous. But I don’t see any loose ends.”
Extra measures taken include the following:
--A six-foot chain-link fence erected around Tampa Stadium, and portable concrete barriers, installed to help manage traffic.
--All fans entering Sunday’s game will be checked by metal detectors. No portable radios, TV sets, camcorders or cameras will be allowed inside the stadium. Media members will have bags X-rayed by machines similar to those used at airports.
--Tampa Stadium was sealed off on Jan. 16 and has been under security 24 hours a day since.
--More than 500 law enforcement officials will be in attendance, some in plain clothes.
--The Federal Aviation Administration has been asked to restrict air space over the stadium on game day. That request had not been granted as of Tuesday afternoon.
Smith said he was disturbed Tuesday when he discovered that seven gates to the stadium were open on the teams’ picture day. “That was about three too many,” he said.
Smith said the Tampa Police Dept. has received one threat to the game. “It was one phoned-in, anonymous threat that has no credibility at all,” he said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
The FBI also has taken an active role in security, but a spokesman said the agency was assigned to work the Super Bowl before war broke out in the Middle East.
Look who’s talking: Tight end Mark Bavaro of the Giants, known for his monosyllabic responses and long periods of brooding silence, was unexpectantly cooperative with the media during Tuesday’s mandatory player interview sessions.
Asked why he has been so reluctant to speak in the past, Bavaro said, “I have better things to do during the season.”
He said he is better prepared to handle the media crush than the last time around in 1987, when the Giants and the Denver Broncos met in Super Bowl XXI at the Rose Bowl.
“It was my second year out of college,” Bavaro said. “I really could not handle it. I’m basically a real shy person.”
What’s a man, really, without his war paint? Buffalo reserve guard Mitch Frerotte, who aspires to a career in the World Wrestling Federation, has been prohibited by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue from smearing black paint on his face for Sunday’s game.
Frerotte has been told it violates the league’s uniform code regulations. Frerotte began the practice this season to motivate himself before games.
“The Indians used to paint their faces to go to war,” Frerotte said.
General Manager Bill Polian received a letter from the league office concerning Frerotte after the Bills’ playoff victory over the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago. Frerotte was not allowed to paint his face for last Sunday’s rout of the Raiders.
“I don’t want to say anything bad about the commissioner,” Frerotte said. “But that’s petty. It’s not like I’m wearing a Rozelle headband (remember Jim McMahon?).”
Frerotte said it is a double standard that teammate Ray Bentley, a linebacker, is allowed to wear a black eye-shadow pattern made famous in the 1970s by rock star Alice Cooper.
“I don’t know why he can wear his and I can’t wear mine,” Frerotte said.
Coach Marv Levy of the Bills was a no-show for his mandatory Tuesday morning session with the media. The NFL office reported that it was not an excused absence.
“This is a clear breach of club obligations,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement. “Commissioner Tagliabue was assured by Bills’ General Manger Bill Polian in a Tuesday afternoon discussion that Coach Levy will be available to the media as scheduled during the remainder of the week. The matter will be reviewed further following the Super Bowl.”
Aiello did not say whether Levy will be fined.
Levy is believed to be the first participating coach in Super Bowl history to miss a scheduled interview session. He was said to be working on this week’s game plan.
Like a lot of Super Bowl players, Adam Lingner is super-popular.
In Buffalo, Lingner has his own radio talk show on WGR, in front of a rowdy live audience at a local pub. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound center also fancies himself a fashion model and has had a good response to 300 promotional brochures of himself, wearing a double-breasted suit, that he distributed to Buffalo area department stores and modeling agencies.
Yes, Adam Lingner is a Buffalo Bill in demand.
Except on his team.
See, Lingner rarely plays. He is the long snapper on Buffalo’s punts, and that’s it. At center, he is listed as third string.
“Yes, folks, I had a tough day yesterday,” was the opening line on one of Lingner’s radio shows. “Four whole plays!”
Co-host Jeff Morrison told the Albany Times-Union: “You wouldn’t believe the folk hero this guy’s becoming. His personality carries it off. He’s got a great radio voice.”
Said Lingner: “The more people get to know me, the more they know I’m a goofball. I’m a natural for radio.”
Lingner earns $225,000 a year for snapping on punts. A 1983 ninth-round pick out of Illinois, Lingner has played in more than 125 NFL games.
He started one.
Times staff writer Mike Downey contributed to this report.