Super Bowl Dreams

Super Bowl Dreams

The Cincinnati Bengals are Super Bowl bound—and Lord willing, SO AM I!

As someone who has faithfully covered the team for the past five years, the National Football League has graciously granted me an official media credential for the press box at SoFi Stadium. For a football junkie like me, that means a journey to the pinnacle of the NFL, a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the mountaintop summit of the entire sporting world.

Ever since Jim O’Brien kicked the Baltimore Colts to a 16 – 13 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V, I’ve dreamed of going to this iconic event. Year after year, for over half a century, I’ve longed to experience the world-renowned glamour and pageantry with my own eyes and ears.

The undefeated Dolphins, Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, the ’85 Bears, America’s Team with Aikman and Smith, the Greatest Show on Turf, Brady and Belichick—all viewed through the lens of that distant and detached boob tube screen.

Regardless of who was playing or where I was, I’d always make it a point to somehow tune in. Whether at a large social gathering or alone in my man cave, I simply couldn’t miss. Those 1:00 am kickoffs while stationed in Germany were especially difficult. One year while traveling, I remember frantically searching for a television at a seaside bar off the coast of Thailand (early on a Monday morning) just to get my Super Bowl fix.

Each year, after the final credits rolled, I promised myself that next year would be the one that I would finally make the in-person plunge. And yet, the plunge never came. Like so many other well-intentioned plans, this one careened into the backburner of misplaced priorities and dashed hopes. As the Super Bowl itself ballooned in stature and as ticket prices subsequently soared, my dream coincidentally vaporized.

And just as suddenly—as improbable as it sounds after all these years—I’m riding triumphantly to Super Bowl LVI on the backs of the Bengals. It’s a serendipitous ride of sorts, the Super Bowl venue at SoFi Stadium beckoning to me like a fairytale fantasy of my pre-adolescent youth.

You see, the Bengals are playing the Los Angeles Rams in LA. I’ve always loved the City of Angels. When I was young, my dream was to move to Los Angeles and become a movie star. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the talent, the looks, or the teeth to be a Leonardo DiCaprio—so I became a dentist instead. I guess things worked out okay, but I always wondered how different my life would have been as an Asian Brad Pitt.

Having missed out on Hollywood, I did the next best thing. I became a fan of everything LA—including the Los Angeles Rams. Yep, those Rams—the early Rams—the Rams who played in the glorious LA Coliseum. Posters of the Fearsome Foursome, Roman Gabriel, and Jack Youngblood adorned my bedroom walls. Vince Ferragamo, “Hacksaw” Reynolds, and Eric Dickerson populated my card collection. My daily moods and outlook on life sadly fluctuated with the fortunes of Pat Haden and Jim Everett.

When the team moved east, however, the Rams lost a bit of their luster for me. Budweiser Clydesdales and Gateway Arches couldn’t hold a candle to the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Bowl, Rodeo Drive, and Venice Beach. I discovered that my love for the team was as fleeting as my hopes for movie stardom.

Therefore, there’ll be no divided loyalties this coming Sunday. I’ll be cheering wildly for the Cinderella Bengals. What a heartwarming story it will be when the midwestern team of my midlife sports-writing career takes on the west coast team of my youthful Hollywood dreams. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

Here’s what else has worked out. My daughter, Katie, lives in LA. Unlike her dear old dad, she followed her heart and took the west coast plunge early on. Now I get an unexpected visit with her while working the game of my dreams–in the city of my dreams. It simply doesn’t get any better than that. I feel so blessed.

Super Bowl LVI, here I come. Please don’t wake me up.

Dr. John Huang covers professional sports for Sports View America. His latest book, KENTUCKY PASSION, is available in bookstores and online at

I Love LA

I Love LA

I love LA! I love it for a bunch of different reasons but reason #1 has to be the weather. New York, Chicago, and Lexington typically have sweltering summers and frigid winters but in LA, it’s always 73 degrees and sunny. Call me a climate hedonist, but I’ll trade that any day of the year for traffic gridlock, outrageous housing costs, and the occasional earthquake.

Bingo and I stepped off the plane yesterday to–you guessed it–73 degrees and sunny, with a gentle refreshing ocean breeze. We’ve got the Blue Pacific  to our west and the San Gabriel Mountains to our north with palm trees and movie stars mixed in for good measure. On our two mile run out to the ocean this morning, Bingo was a virtual babe magnet–kind of like a four legged David Hasselhoff during the height of Baywatch. Now he’s snoring away on the rooftop deck, no doubt dreaming about his newfound canine celebrity status and exhausted from this morning’s foray onto the Sunset Strip.

Most people think of LA as one huge city, but it’s really just a bunch of diverse neighborhoods stapled awkwardly together and bisected by a bunch of freeways and a mountain range. Within each of these neighborhoods, you can find whatever tickles your fancy. Hipster wannabes can head over to Echo Park or Silver Lake. Wanna smoke some weed? Just visit one of the many medical marijuana clinics over by Venice Beach. Do you have a desire to live out your retirement days in total comfort and obscurity?  That’s what infamous mobster Whitey Bulger tried to do in Santa Monica until the FBI came knocking. Want people like OJ or Travolta as your neighbor? Move to Brentwood. Looking for a beach view from rocky cliffs? If you’re like Beyonce and want to purchase Cher’s former home, try Malibu. Craving some sushi? The Little Osaka district in Sawtelle is for you.

Speaking of sushi, another reason I love LA is the abundance of ethnic food. You can get anything here. Mediterranean kabobs, Korean bulgogi, Vietnamese pho, Chinese soup dumplings, all sorts of exotic seafood, and of course anything remotely Mexican. It’s probably not quite as energized and competitive as the Manhattan food scene, but people in LA don’t feel the constant need to be so driven. Sure, if I lived here, I’d want to be successful and famous as “the orthodontist to the stars”, but I’d also like to carve out enough time to chill out at Starbucks, do some yoga, meditate on the beach, and munch on some octopus seaweed rolls. It’s like “whatever” here 365 days of the year. Oh yeah, LA also has In-N-Out Burger. The cheeseburger with animal style fries is to die for. You can’t get that in New York.

You also can’t get Kobe in New York–or Kareem, or Magic for that matter. Growing up, I always found myself cheering hard for LA sports teams. I loved the Lakers and Showtime as well as the Dodgers and Fernando Valenzuela. My favorite football team was the LA Rams who are supposedly moving back to the city after a prolonged absence. Merlin Olsen was my favorite player back then until he became Father Murphy and started selling flowers. And how about the Wizard of Westwood in Pauley Pavilion or those USC Trojans playing in the LA Coliseum–FIGHT ON, man!

Another reason I love LA is because it’s in the Pacific time zone. There’s something impishly mischievous about waking up at daybreak and realizing it’s already approaching 9:00 in Lexington. Rabid sports fans can watch NFL football starting at ten in the morning here and Monday Night Football rarely ends past nine at night. I can sit through an entire World Series baseball game and still have plenty of time to hit the Kogi food truck for some late night Korean quesadillas–and still be in bed by 10:30. Sunsets are especially awesome here on the west coast. Anyone can wax poetic while sipping a cool drink on an ocean pier as dusk settles over sand to sea. 

Finally, the real reason I love LA is because my daughter Katie lives here. It’s hard to emotionally accept the reality that your one and only little girl now lives in a strange city 3000 miles away. She came out west for college and I can kind of understand why she decided to stay. A dear friend of mine recently said that we try to raise our kids with roots but we have to give them wings also. So rather than fret about Katie’s decision, I’ve tried to make LA my second home. Bingo and I are here for a week and we’re going to savor every second of our precious time together. I’m afraid Bingo’s already getting into this west coast vibe and might not want to come back to his old Kentucky home either. Roots and Wings! We love LA!

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