INDIANAPOLIS -- You'll be happy to know I didn't fall asleep on the couch watching the Super Bowl like I did in Dallas last year. That's because I took a different approach when covering the Super Bowl parties in Indianapolis. I didn't stay until the very end of every party and I drank mostly water.
As a result, I was able to squeeze five parties into four days this year (and best of all, I didn't have to bow my head in shame when my buddies asked what I thought about the game). Here are some of the highlights from those parties:
BEST PARTY: EA Sports' Madden Bowl XVIII
The Madden Bowl doesn't get as much attention as The Maxim Party or ESPN The Magazine's "Next" Event, but it never disappoints. The party had the best athlete sightings (Tim Tebow, Drew Brees, Troy Aikman, Robert Griffin III), the best food and the best eye candy (I'm convinced they brought in Hooters Calendar girls to work the party) -- not to mention it included a performance from Nas and a surprise 45-minute performance at the end of the night by Snoop Dogg. In other words, it was a sports fan's dream. Honorable mention: Rolling Stone’s Bacardi Bash.
BEST MUSIC PERFORMANCE: Rapper Drake at ESPN The Magazine’s "Next" Event
I love rap, but hate rap concerts. Rappers often bring way too many friends on stage and give way too many of them microphones. Drake, on the other hand, stayed away from that formula. Drizzy delivered a medley of his hits (for a guy who hasn’t been around that long, he has a ton of them) and he surprisingly had much of the crowd singing and rapping along (the latter is never a given at such an exclusive party). Also, check out the video of Cam Newton introducing Drake. Lets see Eli Manning do THAT. Honorable mention: Rapper Nas at EA Sports' Madden Bowl XVIII
WORST MUSIC PERFORMANCE: Rapper Lupe Fiasco at Rolling Stone’s Bacardi Bash
OK, so Lupe wasn’t bad. In fact, he was kind of great. But I was too annoyed to enjoy it. I’d waited on the red carpet for him for over an hour only for him to tell me “I’m on a press blackout — publicist’s orders.” What he really meant to say was “I only do interviews when I have something to promote.” It's probably my fault for not seeing it coming -- especially since he's burnt me multiple times in the past. Let's just say a lot has changed since he was an up and coming rapper asking me for my phone number. Honorable mention: Rap group The Roots at EA Sports' Madden Bowl XVIII
BEST FOOD OR DRINK ITEM: Banana Foster Puffs at EA Sports' Madden Bowl XVIII
I wasn't the only one who enjoyed this fried dessert. CNBC's Darren Rovell had them the next night at the Playboy party, which took place at the same venue as the Madden Bowl, and tweeted “Dead serious: Best thing at Playboy Party are these Bananas Foster puffs.” Honorable mention: Dunkin Donuts’ mint hot chocolate at ESPN The Magazine's "Next" Event
BEST DRESSED CELEBRITY: Miami Dolphins’ Brandon Marshall at EA Sports' Madden Bowl XVIII
You know a guy is looking sharp when he has you thinking "Maybe its time I take a break from the plaid western shirts and step it up a little." That's what happened to me when I spotted Marshall wearing a purple button down with a bowtie and suspenders. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he had his equally classy looking wife on his arm the entire night to compliment his outfit. Honorable mention: Larry Fitzgerald at EA Sports' Madden Bowl XVIII
WORST DRESSED CELEBRITY: Ex-NFL star Keyshawn Johnson at ESPN The Magazine's "Next" Event
I can understand Keyshawn wanting to take a break from the suits he wears all the time on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown," but an over-sized plain white t-shirt at an ESPN party? C'mon, man! Honorable mention: Matt Forte at EA Sports' Madden Bowl XVIII
NICEST CELEBRITY: Pop star Jordin Sparks at DirecTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl
Some celebs moaned about the long line of media outlets on DirecTV's blue carpet (it probably didn't help that the room felt like a sauna), but Sparks never seemed to stop smiling. Sure, she was constantly wiping the sweat off of her forehead, but she did every interview that was asked of her and was too nice to cut them off when they went too long. Honorable mention: Country singer and "The Voice" judge Blake Shelton at ESPN The Magazine's "Next" Event
CELEBRITY WHO IS TALLER THAN YOU THINK: ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt at ESPN The Magazine's "Next" Event
I figured Ven Pelt was tall, but I didn't know he was 6'6 tall. That makes him two inches taller than Dwyane Wade. Honorable mention: Jordin Sparks at DirecTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl
BEST SILENT AUCTION: Rolling Stone's Volkswagen Rock and Roll Tailgate
You normally see the same items over and over at silent auctions. That's why I really only check out silent auctions when I don't know anyone at a party and have already exhausted the "pretend you're busy texting someone" routine. This auction, however, was hard to ignore. Guests could bid on a guitar signed by three of The Beatles, boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali, a James Dean autograph, a football play written on a piece of notebook paper by Vince Lombardi and a photograph of Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards signed by all three pop stars.
FAVORITE CELEBRITY QUOTE: "I predict I'll be dead 13 hours before kickoff." - Comedian and recovering drug addict Artie Lange when asked for his Super Bowl prediction at the DirecTv Celebrity Beach Bowl
BEST PARTY GIVEAWAY: Van Heusen ties at ESPN The Magazine's "Next" Event
Guests could choose from a variety of neckties at the Van Heusen table off to the side of the party. Me? I passed. I really only wear ties when I'm dating someone who can tie them for me. Sad but true.