While players and coaches try to avoid Super Bowl distractions to prepare for the task at hand, team executives often find themselves in the midst of a “logistical nightmare” leading up to the season’s culminating game. As Bill Polian and Joe Banner tell, getting everything squared away for the Super Bowl is a long and comprehensive process.
“It involves a lot of logistics because you have to transport the families of the players and all the employees of the organization. The front office has a lot to do in that regard,” says Polian, a six-time Executive of the Year whose teams played in five Super Bowls. “Believe it or not, despite people’s sensitivity towards superstition, that planning begins well in advance, as soon as Thanksgiving if you’re going to be a playoff team.”
“You’ve got literally thousands of tickets, and you have sponsors and players. You have multiple planes and multiple hotels you need to reserve. It’s almost impossible to describe. It’s so overwhelming and huge. So huge, in fact, that you can’t even imagine it until you had to do it,” says Banner.
Both Banner and Polian suggest that everything that goes into Super Bowl preparation could take hours to fully explain. Every minuscule detail needs to be fulfilled.
“You want to try to get the players all the stuff they need to deal with such as: how am I getting my parents tickets? How are they getting there? What airline are they flying on? What hotel are they staying in?” Banner says. “But you want to get all that stuff out of the way as quickly as you can because you want the team to get back into kind of a normal routine. You want them to practice properly and get the game plan installed.
“The worst part is you have to do almost all of the logistical work before the championship game. So if you lose the championship game four times as we did, you still do this absolutely massive, indescribable amount of logistical work. Remember, it’s not like transportation to get to the city. You’ve got hundreds of people you are moving every time there’s a meal and every time there’s a practice or any event.”
As Polian’s former player and Hall of Famer Jeff Saturday put it in our story on the player’s perspective of Super Bowl preparation, giving players the ability to stay in the “rhythm of their life” as much as possible before the Super Bowl can be greatly beneficial. With that in mind, teams put together a plan of action for how to minimize distractions and maximize the time they’re given to prepare.
“You’ve got to plan out everything from arrival day in the city and how much you’re going to install before leaving for the Super Bowl site. All the teams that I have been with have done all of their gameplay and installation in advance because it is much easier to do it first with the distractions that the team is faced with,” says Polian.
“Because of all the media and things going on when you arrive in the site city, we felt it was almost impossible to install anything there. You’re just polishing what you’ve installed at that point.”
Ultimately, among all the pageantry and hoopla of the Super Bowl, the most important thing is to have the players prepared and focused on the task at hand.
“The key for the general manager, the business side of the team who are handing all of the details of the trip, and the coaching staff, is to constantly remind everyone involved that as joyous and exciting as the trip is, the trip is not the point. Winning the game is the point,” Polian says.
“You can be very easily distracted from the central point of winning the game in a million different ways. There are so many distractions that players, coaches and people within the organization are faced with that it would take me an hour to outline them all. Everybody wants their issue handled, and the biggest issue, winning the game, can get lost in the shuffle.”