Arrow-right Camera


Football fans have a field day

Mon., Feb. 5, 2007

Though their beloved Seattle Seahawks failed to make it to this year’s Super Bowl, Inland Northwest football fans tried new and true ways to celebrate this year’s big game, broadcast from Miami.

In Spokane Valley, 200 people packed into a dimmed gym at the Church of the Nazarene, where Super Bowl XLI action filled a movie screen. They noshed on German sausages with sauerkraut, hot dogs, carrots and soft drinks.

Donations were being accepted to a special ministry fund used to help needy moms struggling to cover the costs of car repairs, groceries and heating bills, said a church official.

“We raise as much as we can and try to do as much as we can for as many as we can. All at fun events like this,” explained executive pastor Steve Wilson, decked out in a black NFL cap and shirt.

In addition to his ministerial calling, Wilson officiates at 20 NFL football games a year. Sporting the black and white-striped jersey and No. 29, he’s positioned “right behind the linebackers” on game days, he said.

“I’m the only full-time pastor in the United States with 20 Sundays off a year,” he quipped. And when people see his NFL cap, they assume it stands for the football league, he joked. “I tell them: ‘It’s Nazarenes for the Lord.’ “

Just a few miles away, fans crammed into Alan and Michelle Danielson’s two-story Remington Hills home. Streamers and bouquets of balloons in both Bears’ and Colts’ team colors welcomed them.

Kids raced around the house while their parents clutched beverages and huddled around a bevy of TV sets as the Colts beat the Bears, 29-17.

Guest Tom Troksa showed off a 2006 Bears T-shirt. His mom, who lives just outside Chicago, he said, “just ‘FedEx-ed’ it to me last week.”

At nearby Spokane Valley Mall, football was the furthest thing from Mercedes Wilson’s mind. The 19-year-old and two of her girlfriends slipped into David’s Bridal to shop for Wilson’s wedding dress – while her fiancé Sean McCall stayed home to watch the game.

“I’m really excited,” she said, blushing as she peered out from behind a dressing room door. Engaged for more than a year, a couple of days back her boyfriend suggested they tie the knot at Coeur d’Alene’s Hitching Post on Valentine’s Day.

Hoping to lure “football widows,” a retailer in Coeur d’Alene specializing in baby and parenting products opened its doors Sunday for the third year in a row, offering deep discounts.

“We had 20 people line up at the door when we opened,” said Margaret Hildahl, owner of Mother’s Haven. “It was mostly moms and some good-hearted dads who came.”

Meanwhile, die-hard football fans flocked to area sports bars for Super Bowl parties, contests and cheap beer.

At Lefty’s Steak & Sports Bar on North Division, for example, fans gazed at 10 televisions, cheering or moaning, depending on which team they were rooting for. Todd Lockie shared a free pitcher of Coors Light he got for finishing second just a bit earlier in a corn dog-eating contest.

“I ate 18 corn dogs in two minutes,” he boomed, as his buddies cheered for the Colts. The champion ate 23. In downtown Spokane, though, it was just another work day for Keith Lankey, manning the television-deficient Thompson’s Chevron station at Third and Monroe.

Lankey said business was dragging with so many people glued to their TVs. “If I was off, I’d watch it,” he said of the game. “It’s the thing to do today.”

He swears he won’t be stuck behind the counter if the Seahawks should ever claw their way back to the Super Bowl.

“I’d take the day off for that,” he said, grinning.


Click here to comment on this story »