Rozner: The adventure that was Super Bowl XX

  • Bears head coach Mike Ditka is carried off the field by Steve McMichael, left, and William Perry after the Bears defeated the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX in New Orleans.

    Bears head coach Mike Ditka is carried off the field by Steve McMichael, left, and William Perry after the Bears defeated the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX in New Orleans. Associated Press

  • Walter Payton is off to the races in the Bears' victory over New England in Super Bowl XX Jan. 26, 1986, in New Orleans.

    Walter Payton is off to the races in the Bears' victory over New England in Super Bowl XX Jan. 26, 1986, in New Orleans. Associated Press

  • Bears defensive end Richard Dent was the MVP of Super Bowl XX 35 years ago in New Orleans.

    Bears defensive end Richard Dent was the MVP of Super Bowl XX 35 years ago in New Orleans. Associated Press

  • William "the Refrigerator" Perry celebrates his touchdown in Super Bowl XX.

    William "the Refrigerator" Perry celebrates his touchdown in Super Bowl XX. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/21/2021 10:48 AM

It's easy now with online maps to determine the distance.

And it goes without saying that in January 1986, nothing resembling such technology existed, so I could only guess then on the spread.

 

But I've checked the map and it's 1.7 miles. That was the sprint on Sunday morning, Jan. 26, 1986.

Dropping my fork and leaving behind a mediocre breakfast, and without so much as a hamstring or quad stretch given the circumstances, I took off from the French Quarter at full speed for the Superdome.

Word was that the Hyatt across from the dome was the marketplace for tickets, and six hours before the game I still didn't have one.

Let's face it, the whole trip to New Orleans to see the Bears in the Super Bowl was probably a bad idea. I was young and broke, heading off on an adventure even though I had no money, no ticket to the game, nowhere to stay and it wasn't until Wednesday that I found a seat on a charter directed by Ted Albrecht Travel.

Up until then, it appeared as if I'd be driving my 1972 Dodge Dart all the way to New Orleans -- all the way, if it made it all the way.

But I was going to be there for that game. I had to be there for that game.

I had never seen a Chicago sports champion and this game was to be no challenge for the Bears. I was going. I just had to figure out how to make it happen.

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It had been a very bad year for my family and in conversation with my dad he understood why I had to go, so he floated me a couple hundred bucks as my checking account was bright red. Not that he had much to spare.

As for lodging, well, there was a party outdoors at Tulane on Friday evening and that led to my accommodations for one night. In 1986, I was nothing if not resourceful. Mostly, my friends would agree, I was nothing.

In search of their next beverage, Barry Rozner and former Daily Herald columnist Bob LeGere (blue coat) traverse the French Quarter the morning of Jan. 25, 1986.
  In search of their next beverage, Barry Rozner and former Daily Herald columnist Bob LeGere (blue coat) traverse the French Quarter the morning of Jan. 25, 1986. - Barry Rozner | Staff Photographer

By Saturday, a family friend arrived in town and he had rented a house, so I had comfortable floor space for the next two nights.

The party in the French Quarter all weekend was Carnival Chicago, dominated by Bears fans who understood the game was already over, but by Sunday morning I still didn't have the one thing I really needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Thus, the sprint in search of a ticket.

In the Hyatt lobby, there were scalpers everywhere and the prices were far beyond what I had in my pocket. Finally, I ran into a jersey-wearing Bears fan who believed me when I emptied my pockets and showed him what I had.

And he sold me that ticket for $150.

It was a gift, easily half the market price, maybe a third. I was in. All that was left was to find a pay phone and call my dad to let him know I would indeed see the game, albeit from a seat about as far up in that monstrosity as a person could be.

Didn't matter.

Our lives were going to get worse that year, but at least for an afternoon we could celebrate, my dad back home and me in a building that was mostly Bears fans.

The game went as expected, a massacre, save the early New England field goal and Mike Ditka's failure to remember that No. 34 was on the team when they were repeatedly inside the 5-yard line.

Unforgivable.

In New Orleans for Super Bowl XX, Barry Rozner holds up a lamp post in the French Quarter Jan. 25, 1986.
  In New Orleans for Super Bowl XX, Barry Rozner holds up a lamp post in the French Quarter Jan. 25, 1986. - Barry Rozner | Staff Photographer

It was 35 years ago next week and I remember so much about that weekend, the nonstop party in the French Quarter, Bears fans taking over the town, running into people I knew everywhere on the street, and the Super Bowl Shuffle played on the big screen as the teams reached their locker rooms at halftime.

Sunday night on Bourbon Street was legendary as we buried the many ghosts of failures past. If you were there, you know of what I speak.

I returned home Monday night and went straight from the airport to the Stadium, where the Blackhawks were hosting the Oilers. Got there for the third period, but I remember nothing about that. The box score says the Hawks lost 4-3.

After the game, I went out with friends who wanted to hear stories from the weekend. It seemed quiet on Division Street after what I had seen in New Orleans.

Working nights, I didn't see my dad again for a few days after that, but eventually we got to sit and talk about the weekend. I remember thinking that it meant more to him that I got to see the game, than the result itself.

That always stayed with me. I mean, he was a lifelong Bears fan and his concern was for me, more than a 46-10 victory.

It was hard to find much happy in our lives at that time, and I remember how those stories made him smile.

Funny the things you remember 35 years later.

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