Until a week or so ago, I had never been to the Super Bowl, so when Sunday morning in New Orleans rolled around last week, I wanted to make sure I made it over to the Superdome several hours before kickoff, partially to take in as much of the experience as possible and partially just to beat the crowd.
I arrived at the stadium (along with my Yahoo! Sports Radio buddy, Mike Pearson) around 2 p.m. for the 5:30 p.m. kickoff. Thank God we got there as early as we did, because the process to check the media into the building was the picture of inefficiency, a combination of confusion and apathy that screamed "Louisiana!"
After a solid 45 minutes or so, well ahead of game entry rush hour, we finally made our way into the stadium. Understand that the amount of time it took to get into the stadium had very little to do with any sort of meticulous attention to detail on the part of security.
As it turns out, the amateur footage shot by a couple of Super Bowl gate crashers corroborates that night backs up my impressions.
Below is seven minutes of footage from two Savannah State University students who, in the video, go by the code names of "Kobe" and "LeBron." In the footage, you can see that they methodically and all too easily execute their plan to break into the Super Bowl. The eventual plan supposedly is for them to release all of their footage as a documentary, a documentary that frankly could double as a how-to for anyone looking to terrorize a Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Check out the footage and follow along with my Zapruder-style analysis beneath the video:
0:01 -- Video begins with footage from the local news in New Orleans puffing their collective chest out at the 4,000 security officials that will be put to use on Super Bowl Sunday to ensure that the bad guys don't win at what amounts to our biggest annual sporting event as a nation, by far.
0:20 -- Our two perpetrators introduce themselves by outlining their goals -- break into the Super Bowl and document it! They inform us that they are students at Savannah State, the irony of which is not lost on college football fans. Savannah State's football team is best known for providing so little resistance in games this past season that Florida State called the game in the third quarter. Now, it will be Savannah State (in a sense) benefiting from minimal resistance. (Yes, the security at the Super Bowl is the Savannah State of security.)
0:48 -- The title "GAME TIME" covers the screen and we are off and running with Kobe and LeBron! Not sure which one is which, and I'm not sure that it matters. In the first few seconds of footage, we learn a couple things:
1. The two gate crashers are filming this whole thing by using cameras perched on their heads. (Odds that these cameras have been used to film amateur POV porn? Somewhere around -50,000.) So film quality and camera steadiness will be at a minimum. Know that going in.
2. They aren't attempting to go in using any sort of disguise. They appear to just be wearing hoodies and regular pants. No phony security get-up, no red polo shirt (Security check-in people at the media entrance were wearing red polos.), just two regular guys being sneaky. With cameras strapped to their heads. What could possibly go wrong? (as it turns out, the answer is "Nothing.")
1:18 -- It looks like Kobe and LeBron are heading over on foot to the Superdome. Here they are walking right past several uniformed police officers. It's hard to tell if they're walking somewhere that is supposed to be restricted, but if they are then these are officially the worst cops of all time. For what it's worth, you can hear them both saying they think that they should have been stopped at the barricade that was placed at the front of the street they walk down. 1:48 -- The "ROAD CLOSED" sign would certainly be an indicator that two guys wearing hoodies and cameras on their heads probably shouldn't be walking around in what appears to be a restricted area. Naturally, they walk on, undeterred.
2:19 -- This shot begins in front of a white tent, which quite possibly may have been a gateway into a makeshift tent tunnel to get to the stadium. I'm not being facetious, the media entrance was well outside the actual Superdome. It led into a tent tunnel which led to a large outdoor area which then needed to be traversed to get to the stadium. My point is that just because these guys are in shots that are seemingly blocks from the stadium doesn't mean that these are areas that shouldn't be secured.
There's a woman at the entrance to the white tent screaming that there is "NO ENTRY" at this gate; she is turning people away. So naturally, one of our heroes just asks another security person to move the guard rail a foot to the right, and allow him into what appears to be a restricted area. (Put it this way: if it weren't restricted, I'm guessing that lots of people would be walking in it.)
2:25 -- Kobe and LeBron are seen talking to a couple of regular citizens (perhaps stymied gate crashers, not really sure), and they appear to use them to pick up some intel on where to try and complete the next phase of their mission, almost like a CIA agent finding friendly natives in foreign countries to help execute their plan. These "friendlies" were like Superdome spies.
2:51 -- Kobe and LeBron are now seen walking down a long, empty tunnel that spills out into an underground area with some Super Bowl signage. I can tell you from personal experience of walking into the stadium through the media entrance that, at this point, they are clearly inside of the area where you should need some level of accreditation to have access.
That they've made it this far is simultaneously commendable and frightening. Hell, I walked down that part of the stadium area with the Super Bowl signage myself. This is the point in the video where I knew that some heads would roll in the NFL offices and with the city of New Orleans because of this. As well they should.
3:24 -- The two sleuths arrive at an entryway in the bowels of this underground area and are stopped by a female police officer. She appears to ask them where they are going, and one of them tells her that they are filming a documentary (which technically isn't even a lie). She appears to tell them to wait there while she leaves her post to go check on something, presumably whether or not she is supposed to let these two dudes with cameras on their heads into the stadium. Instead of waiting for an answer, Kobe and LeBron casually just right walk in.
And if you haven't gotten the message by now that if you just act like you know what you're doing that you can sneak in almost anywhere, then you're not really paying attention.
4:45 -- After walking through what appears to be some sort of banquet area, they find a side entrance way into an access area to the Superdome. Apparently, all you need to get inside is the ability to knock on the door and a couple of cameras fastened to your skull, because security officer dude lets both of them right in. Seriously, I'm surprised he didn't give them a voucher for food while he was at it. Why not.
5:07 -- Wow, maybe the scariest part of the video if you are one of those who is fearful of terrorists (which I think is almost all of you). It was only a split second, but we see shortly after Kobe and LeBron come through that side door that part of their credibility-generating getup was a large box of some sort, like the size of a huge Igloo cooler. Honestly, it's big enough to sneak a decent size bomb in, I would guess. It was really that easy for two guys to get inside the Superdome common area carrying a large container? If anything, the container should have raised a bigger red flag, but for that security officer, it was like a ticket through the front door!
5:30 -- Now they're getting really close, with access to the loading zone of the stadium. The closer they get, the increasingly easier it's becoming to just act like they're supposed to be there, because this deep inside everyone who is there is supposed to be there. That's the ironic part about the whole "sneak in" dynamic -- the closer you get, the easier it is to complete the mission.
6:25 -- Now they're close enough to where you can actually see the blue lights of Beyonce's halftime show in the opening at the far end of the building. Almost there.
6:57 -- Mission accomplished, followed by some well-deserved bragging on camera.
Commissioner Goodell, Homeland Security is holding on line one. Should we take a message?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports radio from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. CST weekdays, and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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