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Super Bowl Scribe

Journalist Art Spander has been covering the Super Bowl since 1977 and he's giving Diablo the low-down on the who's who of sporting events


For many, a trip to the Super Bowl would fulfill a lifelong dream. For Oakland resident and 49-year newspaper veteran Art Spander (pictured above, with backpack), it’s just another week at the office. From his Super Bowl baptism in 1977 in Pasadena, to this year’s championship game in Miami on February 7, Spander has missed America’s premier sporting event only once. He even has his own plaque in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We asked him to share some highlights of 32 winters past.

Best game: Sure, there have been some exciting finishes, but one of his fondest memories is of January 1982, when all of Northern California was captivated: “That [first] 49ers Super Bowl was fun because nobody expected it; the team had never done anything. Sometimes, the actual game is not what makes it exciting—sometimes, it’s the circumstances.”

Best part of being there in person: “Just being around all the nuttiness. I like to call it sports journalism’s convention because everybody [in the business] is there.”

Fantasy Super Bowl matchup: The 49ers of 1989 against any one of the first four Steelers championship teams, featuring Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, and the “Steel Curtain” defense. “Those were some pretty darn good teams. I’d secretly root for the 49ers because I’m a West Coast guy.”

Favorite halftime show: Thoughts of Michael Jackson (1993) surface, which naturally tie in with his sister Janet’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” (2004). Finally, “I’m a huge Rolling Stones fan, so I enjoyed that one [2006]. I even went to their press conference.”

Most significant changes: Inflated ticket prices? Media overkill? International fervor? They’re all on the list. But, like a true newspaper man, Spander first considers how the job and his deadline are affected. “It used to be a day game—now, it’s more prime time. It’s a full Sunday evening.”

Most embarrassing moment: “Other than blowing my deadline?” 

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