Denver Bar Association
May 2010
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What’s better than a free trip to the Super Bowl?

by John Friedberg

As a kid, I always knew I would go to the Super Bowl one day. Growing up as John Elway’s biggest fan, I knew how things were going to play out. Elway would play for a while, probably until I finished college, and then, after a year or two, I’d take over. The torch would be passed from John E. to John F. I even had my number picked out: 14, The Second No. 7. It was too logical not to happen, but it would take hard work and preparation to make this dream come true.

NFL Hall of Famer, Mike Ditka (left) and ESPN’s Mike Greenberg (right) congratulate John Friedberg for winning the Norelco Trivia Bowl during a ceremony in New York.

I started reading everything about the NFL and college football and playing catch whenever I could. I practically memorized every football card in my ever-expanding collection. My parents started buying me sports trivia books and biographies. I knew the game inside and out, but I never grew past 6´0´´, never "filled out" into that prototypical football body, couldn’t outrun most defensive linemen and my knees didn’t exactly behave. My golden right arm would be put to use at a desk job. My dream of being a Denver Bronco may have faded, but those random trivia questions and my passion for football never did.

In early January, I heard an advertisement on ESPN radio for a trivia contest. Participants would have to go to the website, answer a few trivia questions correctly, and the winner would win the "Ultimate Football Weekend" in Miami which included tickets to the Super Bowl. I thought it was worth a try, so I logged on, aced the quiz, entered my e-mail address and doomed myself to a lifetime of spam about shaving. Or so I thought.

A week later, a woman named Christie Chiappetta (pronounced like the pet of infomercial fame) notified me that I had won a trip to New York City to compete against seven other randomly selected winners in a trivia game for the chance to go to the Super Bowl. A week later, I was on my way to a trivia game hosted by ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and to meet celebrity guest Mike Ditka. It all seemed surreal.

John Friedberg and former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Antonio Freeman are all grins at the Gridiron Greats charity dinner.

The game was three rounds. All participants started on their own 20-yard line on a football field board. If I answered a question correctly, I moved up 10 yards. If I was incorrect, I moved back ten. In the first round, I played against three other contestants. I eked out a victory, as the runner-up was two questions behind. The last two rounds were head-to-head and resembled a 1980s Broncos Super Bowl, but I wasn’t the Broncos. All those hours sorting football cards and reading sports pages finally paid off! I was on my way to the Super Bowl, the celebrity-studded ESPN Next Party and an invitation I could have never foreseen: I was going to sit with Coach Ditka at his Gridiron Greats charity dinner two days before the game!

I’d like to say the Super Bowl was the highlight of the trip, but I’d be lying. It was a great game, but Coach Ditka’s party was more than I could ever have imagined. At his party, I met Jamie Foxx, Tony Dorsett, Ron Kramer, Antonio Freeman and many other players whom I knew through my football cards, Sunday afternoons or the scores of books that consumed me as a kid. It was a magical night full of heroes and proof that in a way, dreams do come true. Now, if only the Broncos could have been there with me.

John Friedberg is an associate attorney specializing in commercial litigation at Pendleton, Friedberg, Wilson & Hennessey.

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