Dayton Daily News — February 1, 2008

Through the Arch: Tom Petty couldn’t root for the Buckeyes
By Tom Archdeacon
Dayton Daily News — Friday, February 1, 2008

PHOENIX — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are the halftime entertainment at Sunday’s Super Bowl LXII and while the Hall of Fame rocker is remaining the musical equivalent of Switzerland in this one — when it comes to the big fight, he said he wants to remain neutral — that wasn’t the case the last time there was such a hyped football game at this new University of Phoenix Stadium.

Before Sunday’s match-up between the unbeaten New England Patriots and the road warrior New York Giants — in what many think will be the most watched Super Bowl ever — the most trumpeted football game here was Ohio State’s meeting with Florida in the BCS title game a year ago.

OSU was routed in that one and Petty was pulling for the Gators all the way.

During Thursday’s pair of press conferences with the musical stars of this year’s Super Bowl — Petty and his band will play a 12-minute set at halftime, Alicia Keys will do the pregame show and American Idol singer Jordin Sparks will perform the national anthem — Petty was asked about his football interests

He said he really didn’t have any NFL favorites, but on the college level he did.

He grew up in Gainesville, Florida and said “when you grow up there, everything has a Gator on it… My earliest memories are of going to the big pep rallies in the stadium the night before (games) — they called them the Gator Growl — so, yeah, I always pulled for the Gators.”

As press conferences with Super Bowl halftime talent goes, Petty’s laconic style paled when compared to the electricity of Prince’s mini-concert he put on for the few hundred media types last year.

Just as he hedged on his Super Bowl allegiance, Petty also didn’t want to pledge support to any of the presidential candidates — even though Hillary Clinton used his 1977 hit “American Girl” as her victory theme after the New Hampshire primary.

“I heard about that,” Petty said. “But we’re not endorsing anyone. I would not want you to take a guitar player’s advice on something like that.”

Although Petty wouldn’t reveal which songs he’ll do Sunday, word is you won’t be hearing “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” Turns out the NFL wasn’t too keen on the whole “let’s roll another joint” refrain.

Petty’s best line came when informed that New England coach Bill Belichick said that he’ll be listening to his songs before the game, Sunday:

“Well,” Petty dead-panned, “it never kept anybody from… winning.”

At their press conference both Keys — who mesmorized the sportswriter crowd with her looks and smile — and the effervescent 17- year-old Sparks, both said they were pulling for the Giants.

Keys is from New York City and Sparks’ dad, Phillippi, played for the Giants in the early 1990s.

Spark admitted she’ll be getting butterflies Sunday, through not for the reason you’d think.

“Even though I’m a Giants fan, I’m not gonna lie, Tom Brady is the most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen — and he’s really cute,” she gushed. “When I’m down on the sidelines and I look over there and see him, I just don’t know what I’m gonna do!”

A lot of NFL defensive backs felt the same way this season.

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