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Hartsock: First Super Bowl assignment one to remember

I remember it like it was yesterday. In 1982, my very first sports assignment at WHIO-TV was covering Super Bowl XVI.

My first thoughts were of palm trees, warm breezes and a break from January in Dayton. But I quickly remembered January in Detroit can be a lot worse. That’s right, it was the first cold weather city to host the big game … just my luck.

I was still a news reporter when the boss told me I would be filling in for Mick Hubert and John Snyder, who were off covering a University of Dayton basketball game. As it turned out, I did more stories about the weather than I did about the game that week.

The game-day temperature was 16 degrees outside the Pontiac Silverdome and a balmy 70 degrees inside. Unfortunately I didn’t have a press box seat and my pass only got me access to a back room with some TV’s that were much smaller than the big screens we have today. And the Bengals lost 26-21.

The weather was much nicer seven years later when the Bengals, the 49ers and I got together in Miami for Super Bowl XXIII. But once again, the game took a back seat to another story. This time it was the riots that broke out after a police officer shot a motorcyclist. I remember looking out the window of my hotel and watching the fires burn.

Things didn’t get back to normal until Wednesday of that week. Then on Saturday, the news broke that Cincinnati running back Stanley Wilson was caught with cocaine in his hotel room and immediately suspended. San Francisco took the lead with 34 seconds to play, and the Bengals lost again, 20-16.

The next season it was just the 49ers and me. The guys in stripes didn’t make it to New Orleans, but Anthony Munoz did. The future Hall of Famer joined me to cover media day and we did live reports on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street.

Why was I there to cover a game involving two teams from out west? CBS did the game and we carried it live on Channel 7. My bosses thought it was a good idea to send me and who was I to argue.

I’m hoping that one day soon I can join the Bengals and the 49ers for one more big game. Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath it will happen anytime soon. Especially not next year when it will be played outside in New Jersey. Cold weather and the Super Bowl … been there, done that.

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