Frank Supovitz, my good friend and NFL SVP of Special Events, is leaving his post as the Senior Vice President of Special Events in charge of site selection and the production of the Super Bowl, the annual NFL Draft, The Pro Bowl, and NFL Kickoff, to start his own event planning and consulting firm. For me, it’s like losing a part of the NFL Family, but he’s just going into business for himself. With that, I have to share what the media doesn’t know and wasn’t in the NFL press release:
Frank is only the third person in NFL history to have held his post. Mr. Supovitz took over for Jim Steeg, who departed the same position after 26-years at it, to become President of The San Diego Chargers and lead the effort to build a new stadium there. Because Jim lasted for almost two generations, and took over from Don Weiss, who has the eternal tag of “Father Of The Super Bowl”, I guess I expected Frank to stick around for 30-years. Still, Weiss, Steeg, and Supovitz form the Mount Rushmore of sports event planning.
Over that time Steeg created much of the foundation for the modern Super Bowl that Frank took over as caretaker of, from the NFL Experience, to the Super Bowl Halftime Show. With that increasing number of elements, the job Frank has is more stressful than ever before, and it’s increased with the NFL’s overall effort to get cold-weather cities involved in bidding for the contest.
What people don’t understand is that with every additional potential Super Bowl city comes a new set of political complications, and as the head of the Oakland Super Bowl Bidding Effort, I know Frank has stories and situations he’s not want to share publicly.
Add to that, the fact that some business players in the hospitality and Super Bowl hospitality area who seem more willing than ever to violate NFL price-gouging-prevention and logistics policies, and you have a position that, if you’re not of steady temper like Jim and Frank, could very well drive you stark raving mad.
Frank is to be commended for steering the NFL’s Super Bowl game through these choppy waters. There was the most recent issue with hotels in Arizona, and then the Arizona anti-gay issue. There was the Miami versus San Francisco competition for the 50th Super Bowl – an outcome that still has Miami seeing red over losing the right to host it to 49ers Owner Jed York and the team he and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee assembled. There were the efforts to expand the NFL Draft’s media power by establishing the NFL Red Carpet, which has grown to 30 NFL Players, and whatever Hollywood celebs show up.
And of course, who can forget the Super Bowl Blackout at The Louisiana Mercedes Benz Superdome during Super Bowl XLVII?
The press release the NFL sent out didn’t even begin to capture all that Frank has done and been responsible for. I can only hope my friend is OK. And yes, I don’t lose that term loosely.
The first time I met Frank it was via phone call from him in 2005, and after I reached out to him to introduce myself and share my experience and suggestions formed from not just my Super Bowl Oakland Bidding experience, but the now 10 Super Bowl games I’ve attended since 2000. He and I quickly bonded for a host of reasons, among them that cancer has played a large role in our personal lives.
At the time that year, I was dealing with my Mom battling breast cancer, having lost her husband and my stepdad to prostate cancer, and on my way to eventually losing my real dad to the same kind of cancer in October of that year, 2005. Frank and I talked for two hours, and most of that wasn’t business. Frank is a uniquely nice and caring individual who the NFL should celebrate as he goes on to his next stage of occupational life.
I can’t see who will replace Frank, but I do hope the NFL takes care to look at what kind of person Frank is, and uses that as a template for the future. People like Frank Supovitz don’t come along every day, and that’s why he was able to last in that stressful pressure-cooker for almost a decade.
God bless Frank Supovitz.