- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

ATLANTA A quarterback who once bagged groceries and played indoors and abroad. A running back traded after failing his first team. A coach who returned after 15 years. A team that won only four games last season.
The St. Louis Rams used a cast of retreads and rejects to win Super Bowl XXXIV last night, beating the Tennessee Titans 23-16. The Rams (16-3) capped a surprising season that began with an opening six-game winning streak and gained redemption for a 24-21 loss to Tennessee on Oct. 31.
After a lackluster first three quarters with St. Louis leading 16-0, Tennessee scored 16 straight points to tie. However, St. Louis scored on a 73-yard touchdown catch by receiver Isaac Bruce and survived a last-second Tennessee reception that ended inches from the goal line when Rams linebacker Mike Jones game-saving tackle of Titans receiver Kevin Dyson as time expired.
Coach Dick Vermeil, who lost the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles 19 years ago, earned his first Super Bowl ring. Former Arena and NFL Europe quarterback Kurt Warner, who rose from backup to NFL Most Valuable Player this season, and running back Marshall Faulk, who the Rams acquired from the Colts in an off-season trade, wore down the tremendous Titans defense.
As for Tennessee, it was a heartbreaking finish to a electric post-season run that included the "Music City Miracle" victory over Buffalo plus underdog victories at Indianapolis and Jacksonville.
It was the "Shiver Bowl at the Snow Dome." Fans donned fur coats and parkas before entering the comfy 70-degree Georgia Dome. But it didn't cool interest in the nation's biggest sporting event. More than 1,000 Rams fans from St. Louis chartered flights through one agency alone at $2,900 each. That didn't even include the $325 game tickets, which scalpers sold for $1,000 to $5,000.
Indeed, more than 100,000 people visited Atlanta over the weekend, pouring more than $250 million into the local economy. More than 65 percent of those attending the game were considered top executives, with 38 percent earning more than $100,000.
"It has become the biggest social event of the year. It is the one game your wife wants to be part of," said Paul Charchian, president of Fantasy Football Weekly. "All of your friends will be at Super Bowl parties, and you want to be part of it."
Nearly 1 billion people watched the game, including 130 million Americans. The Super Bowl was broadcast in 24 languages, including Mandarin Chinese, Bulgarian and Hindi. The game even prompted an informal holiday in Germany, where many arose early to watch the 4 a.m. live broadcast.
"Lots of Germans have learned that the Super Bowl is the greatest party of the year," said Alexander Roesner, sports coordinator of Germany's SAT 1 network. "The game is a highlight event, especially for the younger people."
That's why Super Bowl commercials have become the most important and expensive on television each year. Thirty-second commercials cost between $2 million and $2.5 million each, pitching everything from encyclopedias, trucks, beer, movies and even the World Wrestling Federation.
There were 3,500 journalists covering the Super Bowl, including 476 from 162 international agencies. An estimated 500,000 also monitored the game through www.nfl.com.
Thousands of Titans fans drove three hours from Nashville for the franchise's first Super Bowl. Oddly, those same fans wouldn't drive three hours in 1997 when the relocated Houston Oilers spent one year in Memphis before moving to Nashville, claiming it was too far. However, a new name and uniforms and a 16-3 record converted the country music capital into "Titanic" followers.
"It wasn't popular to be a Tennessee Oiler fan," Titans running back Eddie George said of the past three years, when the team played in three different stadiums in Tennessee. "We were still known as the Houston Oilers no matter if we were the Tennessee or Nashville whatever. The thing that changed was when we got the new uniforms and changed the name and became their team. We became the Tennessee Titans, and the fans embraced it."
Rams backers seemed equally exited about the franchise's first Super Bowl since moving from Los Angeles in 1995.
"You have got a classic story of a great cast of characters coming together," Rams defensive end Kevin Carter said. "You have got a quarterback in Kurt Warner who was bagging groceries not too long ago and a veteran running back like Marshall Faulk who has found new life with a second team."

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