By Curt Yeomans
Harry Martin came to Georgia this week to fish, but he also plans to catch the big game with his son Sunday, when the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers face off in Super Bowl XLIII.
"I'm not a Cardinals fan, but they beat the [Atlanta] Falcons, they beat Carolina, and they beat the Giants, so I guess I'll be pulling for them to win," Martin said as he sat down Friday at the bar, at Buffalo's Southwest Café in Jonesboro.
"It just broke my heart when they beat all of my teams along the way, though. I wish the Giants had won, because I like Eli Manning. He's a really good player, and his father was a really good player who played for a really bad team in New Orleans."
Martin, who is from New York but retired to Florida to pursue fishing, says he's never missed a Super Bowl.
He is one of many in the area making plans to watch the game in sports bars, at home and in the basements of churches.
One traditional gathering is the Family Life Missionary Baptist Church's Super Bowl Fellowship and Madden NFL '09 Tournament. The video game tournament starts at 3 p.m., Sunday, and will have categories for boys, girls, women, and men, ages 8 and up. The church is located at 1115 Morrow Road in Morrow.
Some churches turn on television sets and provide food for members who want to watch the game.
Some viewers flock to sports bars to cheer and brag.
"I think we're going to have a pretty good crowd," said Sheila Cervasio, a bartender at Buffalo's. "People like to share a good time. They like cheering for their team while they are surrounded by others."
Martin said the Super Bowl is alluring to so many people because "it's the last [professional] football game until the next season begins [in the fall]. It's you're last chance to watch football for a while."
Buffalo's is one of several restaurants and bars in the area which will host parties Sunday. Buffalo's, and other bars like the Irish Bred Pub in Rex and the Three Dollar Café in McDonough, will give away free items and conduct drink specials.
Employees at Irish Bred will also solicit donations for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital during the game. Fuzz Myers, daytime manager at Irish Bred, said the Super Bowl is one of the pub's biggest events of the year.
"We had nearly 200 people attend our Super Bowl viewing party last year," said Myers. "It's not as big as St. Patrick's Day, of course, but it is up there with New Year's Eve."
As the game approaches, several bartenders and patrons are picking favorites.
"I'm a Steelers fan, and I just don't have any connections to Arizona," Cervasio said. "I like [Cardinals quarterback] Kurt Warner. I think he's cute, but the last quarterback who I thought was cute was [Chicago Bears quarterback] Rex Grossman. He's pretty much fallen off the face of the Earth, so I won't be basing my support on cuteness again."
Wayne Rhea, a Riverdale resident, did not begin to follow football until December, when he began catching parts of games on the big-screen television at Buffalo's. Still, he's already firmly entrenched in his support for the Cardinals, and will be at Buffalo's Sunday to watch the game.
"I just like the way they play," Rhea said. "I like the way they handle the ball on offense. They definitely have some good ball-runners."