By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Analysts offered lots of reasons for the collapse, but none mentioned this: Would you want to come to Houston's Super Bowl if it meant staying at a hotel in Greenspoint?
The AFC champions will be housed at the InterContinental in the lively, flashy, flamboyant Galleria area come Super Bowl week. For some reason, the NFC champs will be relegated to that bleak landscape north of town that's been known as Gunspoint because of its formerly high crime rate.
AFC shopping: The Galleria, where the ladies' clothing boutiques include Gucci and Chanel. NFC shopping: Greenspoint Mall, where women shop at Lane Bryant and Fashion Cents.
Greenspoint officials are eager, however, to let folks know that their part of town is so happenin' it's known as The Downtown of North Houston, which sounds like a very hip place indeed. If you're from a sleepy suburb of "North Houston."
The Wyndham Greenspoint Hotel invited the media out January 7 to see how they'll be "rolling out the green carpet" to welcome the NFC champs. To show how much the players eat, they brought out a giant grouper that was, we guess, pretty big as far as groupers go.
Thinking that Big Fish might not be enough of a lure, they also offered NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, who said the hotel was "beautiful" and would be "the epicenter of excitement" during Super Bowl week.
Allen said he'd been hanging in Houston the last few days with pal Clyde Drexler, playing golf. "And I've been around the Galleria area, just having fun," he said.
Okay. But what about the Greenspoint area, Marcus? What hot spots have you hit in The Downtown of North Houston?
"I really haven't been around here that much," he said. "But they're giving me a tour later, and I'm looking forward to it."
Here's a tip, big guy: Be sure to bring your coupons for the Quizno's in the mall food court.
Crawling in My Skin
The country's law enforcement and security agencies are going increasingly high-tech in their efforts to prevent all kinds of nefarious activities. To get in or out of sensitive areas, people have to flash badges, scan fingerprints or eyeballs, or enter secret codes into keypads.
Or, if you're someone who's just been arrested in Galveston, you can simply crawl out the front door on your hands and knees.
Louis Radzieski, 20, was in the Galveston County Jail's booking area December 27, pondering the fact he'd been charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon, not to mention engaging in organized crime activities.
Ever alert, Radzieski noticed that jail staffers stood behind a high counter; all they could see were the upper bodies of defendants as they were released. "So he took a chance," said Major Mike Henson of the sheriff's department.
Normally prisoners are escorted to the door, he said, but "It was just a busy day. Oh, Christ, there must have been ten, 12 people in the immediate booking area."
When a woman was released, Radzieski got down on his knees and crawled behind her, telling her that he'd prefer if she considered his playful antics a private joke not to be shared with the rest of the world. Or words to that effect.
She called police after they got outside and Radzieski took off. ("She knew he wasn't being legally released," Henson analyzed -- hey, get this gal a job at the Galveston County Jail!) By then someone watching the lobby's video surveillance cameras also had taken note. Still, it took an hour to catch the guy.
"We've had [prisoners] inadvertently released, but never one crawl out," Henson said.
The officers on duty that night are "going to be re-orientated" with proper procedures, he noted.
Fresh Air Fleet
If there's one thing Houston needs, it's more gigantic SUVs clogging up traffic and fouling the air as they get 12 miles to the gallon. Luckily, Super Bowl organizers have realized this fact and are preparing to flood the streets with the silliest "sport utility" behemoths available: Cadillac Escalades, whose most strenuous off-roading usually takes place when there's a puddle on a River Oaks driveway.
Cadillac is lending hundreds of vehicles to NFL players and execs; emblazoned with the game's logo, the cars sit patiently at a Reliant Stadium parking lot, ready to be gawked at by passers-by once they hit the road. There's no guarantee that you'll glimpse a player if you see one at a traffic light, though -- players often rent their own Benzes or other cars if the Escalades don't meet their tricked-out standards.
Houston Sports Legends
The Houston Chronicle, doing its best to add to Super Bowl hype, has been printing its version of collector's cards commemorating 38 "Houston sports legends" to be honored in January 26 ceremonies. Limit the number of local sports legends to 38? Impossible. For instance, they've missed: John Jenkins, coach, University of Houston, 1987-93. Jenkins, as both offensive coordinator and head coach, establishes the run-and-shoot offense that was to football what Creed is to alt-rock. *Career highlights: Single-handedly killed QB David Klingler's chances for a Heisman by leaving him in through the last half of the fourth quarter in an 84-21 rout of tiny Eastern Washington University in 1990. Klingler's 11 TD passes in the late-season game sickened Heisman voters. Other notable routs engineered by Jenkins: 95-21 over a team of SMU freshmen in the Mustangs' first season after reinstating football; 73-3 over Louisiana Tech a week before getting crushed 40-10 by Miami, an actual football team. *Honors: Won a 1990 "Turkey of the Year" award from the Orange County Register for the Eastern Washington game. Also a "Low of the Year" award from The Sporting News. While offering no specific trophy, the Boston Globe opined, "This, quite frankly, was as sleazy as it gets on a football field." After he resigned amid various scandals in 1993, Jenkins was honored with $15,000 by UH so he wouldn't sue over remarks by university administrators claiming he was gay. *Moment to remember: Denying he showed pornography to his players, Jenkins said in 1993 that he merely spliced clips of partially clad women into game films as "tension-breakers."