SAN DIEGO — Michael and Lynne Campbell are longtime Bronco fans and, being from the Mile High City, they are used to the hazards of trying to enjoy a professional football game.
With season tickets in Denver, the Campbells, brother and sister, have weathered snow and wind and sleet and ice through a decade of Rocky Mountain football seasons. Indeed, when the Broncos played the San Diego Chargers this season, the Campbells drove their four-wheel-drive truck through 30 inches of snow just to get to the stadium. It was a two-hour journey from the foothills of the mountains.
Those adversities paled, however, when they found Sunday that their seats in sunny California's San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium were far from advantageous.
From where they were sitting in Row 55 of the 21,000 temporary bleacher seats behind the Redskin end zone, they had a great view--of the back of the scoreboard.
Not only could they not see the action on the giant board, they also found themselves so far removed from the Denver sidelines that it was next to impossible to pick out favorite players.
"We'll have to yell so loud, and still Denver won't hear us," lamented Lynne.
Jack Murphy Stadium was literally packed to the rafters Sunday, and despite all the good seats and mild weather and Super Bowl hoopla, there were always some seats that anyone would call lousy.
Bill and Laurie Barron had won free tickets from local radio station KFMB. They came to the game early to scout out their seats. Luckily, they brought along binoculars.
The Barrons, from nearby Santee, were also housed in the upper reaches of the back of the scoreboard bleachers. Longtime Charger season ticket-holders, the couple had been in the stadium earlier this year, marveling at how the make-do bleachers were being erected and wondering about their safety.
"I saw them putting them up," Bill said. "I remember thinking I wouldn't want to be one of the ones sitting up there. And here I am."
Down lower were Ulrich and Suzanne Dembrowski, a Washington couple who had followed their beloved Redskins through 27 seasons and now to the Super Bowl.
Dressed in maroon T-shirts, they were snuggled in a midlevel corner of seats behind the Redskin end zone. If they leaned back, they could almost rest their heads against the scoreboard post. Trying to look up at the big board was impossible. The angle and glare produced one big black blur. In addition, they were in the end zone.
But it was the Super Bowl, and the Dembrowskis were witnessing history.
"You know," Ulrich said, "when I picked up my tickets at RFK (Stadium in Washington), as soon as I walked away, some guy offered me $1,200 for the pair of them."
He shook his head, wondering if he hadn't passed up a good opportunity to dump some bad tickets. But then his wife tried to find the bright side. "You see these cushions," she said, pointing to the souvenir Super Bowl seat cushions placed throughout the stadium. "We get to keep them."
The Dembrowskis could at least take heart in knowing that not all the crummy seats were in the end zone.
Don and Jan Davis from Albuquerque, N.M., were sitting in the first row, but right at a corner where the stands meet the turf at eye-level, their view was blocked by the backs of the heads of an army of photographers and a sea of pianos. In addition, their depth perception of the field was minimal, almost to the point where the playing surface resembled an upside down U.
Still, they were not complaining. Don had already been to three Super Bowls--at Tampa, Palo Alto and New Orleans. And he never watches football on television, which to many fans provides the best seat possible.
"Nah," he said, "I have to be here."