Tales of Super Bowl week: To party or not?

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“Most passes caught with a hangover,” he proudly bragged for the rest of his life.

Joe Namath topped that boast just two years later with the most famous guarantee in sports, and soon was followed onto the stage by an Oakland Raiders team that claimed to have bartenders on retainers in every NFL city.

Their carousing inspired a suggestion that the local cops keep media guides in the glovebox of their squad cars to speed the booking process along. After several years of relentlessly bad press, defensive tackle and certified party animal John Matuszak issued an ultimatum: Anybody caught breaking curfew during the week would have to answer to him.

Naturally, the Tooz was found partying late into the morning soon after. But at least he had an explanation.

“That’s why I was out in the streets,” he said. “To make sure no one else was.”

Ditka’s cast of characters, on the other hand, rarely lacked for late-night company. They generated so many tall tales of Bourbon Street escapades that if only half were true, Chicago’s 46-10 destruction of the Patriots on that Sunday was even more impressive than it seemed.

“Look, I’d been to a few Super Bowls by then, including with coach (Tom) Landry, and nobody was more buttoned-down than that. But you can’t treat every team, or even every player, the same,” Ditka said. “I knew what they were doing. Heck, I used to do the same stuff myself. But we had a veteran team. … All I really asked was for their full attention Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And we got that in spades.”

True _ if you overlook Jim McMahon’s decision to moon a TV helicopter filming one of the Bears’ practices. He’d arrived with a sore hip, then added a grudge when a local TV reporter made up quotes in which the punky QB called the town’s women “prostitutes” and the men “stupid.”

McMahon brought along an acupuncturist, who was working on his hip when several players noticed the helicopter hovering above. According to the official version of the story, McMahon’s pants were just a few inches off his hip.

“OK,” teammate William “The Refrigerator” Perry conceded many years later, “maybe once Jim realized the ‘copter wasn’t going away, he pulled his pants the rest of the way down.”

Sadly, not all stories of Super Bowl prep week ended so harmlessly.

Three years later, the big game in Miami was preceded by riots and Cincinnati running back Stanley Wilson didn’t play after a cocaine binge. A decade later, Falcons safety Eugene Robinson was arrested for soliciting a prostitute the day before the game and just hours after receiving the Bart Starr Award for “high moral character” with his family in attendance.

The next year, Baltimore’s Ray Lewis was entangled in a double murder that took place at an Atlanta nightclub in the wee hours after the game. He was found guilty of misdemeanor obstruction of justice, but has since rehabilitated his image.

In 2003, Raiders center Barret Robbins disappeared Saturday from the team’s San Diego hotel and headed to Tijuana, Mexico. He returned that night disoriented, missed the game the next day and spiraled downward into substance-abuse clinics and jail time.

“The world is a lot closer than it used to be, but the image these guys are supposed to keep up hasn’t changed,” Ditka said. “You’re supposed to be a warrior, on and off the field _ train hard, play hard, the whole nine yards.

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