With Super Bowl Sunday around the corner, an industry insider is here to give us a behind-the-scenes look into the most anticipated weekend of the year.
We spoke with Steve Rosner, co-founder of 16W Marketing, who over the course of his career has represented industry greats including Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, Howie Long, Cris Collinsworth, Chris Simms, Cal Ripken Jr., Ron Darling, Brian Griese, Bob Papa, Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Steve Young, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tony Meola, Clyde Drexler, Andre Agassi, Brandi Chastain, Jim Furyk, Jim Kelley, Warren Moon and more, about what exactly happens before the big game.
(Editor's Note: The writer of this piece is Rosner's daughter.)
Rosner has also helmed special events including the ISI/SFX Charity Super Bowl Golf Classic; New York’s Top 100 Sports Moments; NFL Punt, Pass & Kick; the Cadillac NFL Quarterback Club Golf Scramble; and the NFL High School Quarterback Club Challenge.
Here’s what he had to say about one of the biggest sporting weekends of the year.
Can you talk a little bit about your day-to-day as a sports agent? How do your responsibilities shift during peak times, such as Super Bowl season?
My day-to-day responsibilities have been the same for the last 35 years….client management. Whether that is talking to my clients on the phone about business or personal matters or negotiating a deal on their behalves, it is ALWAYS about how you can service your clients. During Super Bowl, the only thing that is different is trying to juggle the number of people you need to see or meet within the 3-4 days that you are in the Super Bowl city. It is the only time of the year that the entire football and media industry is in one place at the same time and you have to manage your time accordingly.
From your perspective, what does preparation for the Super Bowl look like?
For 16W Marketing, Super Bowl week is actually OUR companies Super Bowl as well. In non-COVID years, we host our annual Thursday Night Get Together, where 125-150 of the industry's most influential people, our clients (Howie Long, Cris Collinsworth, Phil, and Chris Simms, Boomer Esiason, etc.) and friends attend. We are known for picking great local places with great food and our special wines that we ship in from our New Jersey wine cellars.Throughout the weekend, our clients make corporate appearances, in addition to fulfilling our corporate clients’ talent appearances needs as well. Over the course of 3-4 days, we are responsible for 40-50 appearances. Based on that, we prepare what we call our Super Bowl “Bible,” which is a thick binder with all the necessary things we need to coordinate our party RSVP list, appearance schedule, car pickup schedule, maps, hotel room allotment, etc.
Can you walk us through a typical day of Super Bowl weekend?
Breakfast meeting, 2-3 meetings right after, meet a client for lunch, bring broadcast client to meet potential employee, downtime ( an hour to recharge battery), a cocktail before dinner, dinner with my favorite business associate, and then straight to bed. No more late-night parties…too old!
You have watched your clients evolve from some of the best players on the field to the best announcers in the booth. In what ways has your business/role evolved with the players, and what has stayed the same?
From an evolution standpoint, the first word I think of is maturity. Both for my clients and myself. What I mean by that is as time has gone on, and my clients have transitioned from being on the field to the broadcast booth, they have matured not only professionally, but personally as well. Most, if not all, have gone from “jocks” to broadcasters to businessmen to grandparents and so on. You see life a little differently as you get older and happy to say being successful as well.
As for myself, I have matured in the way I do my business, how I listen to my client’s needs, not making everything about business (I really enjoy being part of their lives in and out of the booth), and making it a family atmosphere type of representation. One of the things I am most proud of is the length of time I have represented some of my clients. 28, 28, 24, 21, 20, etc are the number of years I have represented certain clients. Not the normal in our industry.
You’ve been going to the Super Bowl for 32 years. How has your experience changed over time?
Less is more. I have found out if you go to the Super Bowl with a set game plan on who you want to meet, you are much more effective for your clients instead of if you just wing it. Of course, you need to be flexible when a certain meeting or two pop up, but you need to stay as close to your original game plan as possible.
Tell us about your craziest Super Bowl memory.
Back in January of 1995, we were representing 49ers Super Bowl Quarterback Steve Young. My partners Frank Vuono and Fred Fried, alongside their wives, and mine, Stefanie, had seats on the 50-yard line at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. Steve threw for over 300 yards and a SB record 6 touchdowns and was named game MVP. After the game, Frank and I had passes to get us in the locker area, but when the 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo saw us he pulled us into the locker room. By that time most of the players had showered and left, but Steve was still in his uniform by this locker. When he saw us he got up and gave us a big hug and started to cry out of the relief that he finally won the SB as he had played for years in the shadow of the former 49er legend Joe Montana.
As he was taking off his uniform, he flipped me his hat that he was wearing on the sidelines (and on the cover of Sports Illustrated) and told me to keep it as a memento of his big win. I still have the hat to this day. While Steve was in the shower, Frank, Fred, and I were in negotiation with the networks for the Morning Show Steve would agree to do the next morning. Work is never done, even in the winner's locker room!
What opportunity has the Super Bowl given you from a personal standpoint?
That is easy. It has given me the opportunity to have access to the biggest sporting event of them all that enabled me to share with family and friends. At one point when my late parents were alive, I took them as my guest to 18 straight SB’s. This was their highlight of the year and I will never forget their faces when every year my clients would ALWAYS stop by to say hello either at our annual party or hotel. They were proud of their son and I was proud of myself that I was able to put myself in the position to do this for them.
When my daughters Melissa and Amy ( FYI - the one whose name Is in the byline of this article) were old enough to enjoy the festivities, they would join me at SB. Whether it be in New Orleans, Miami, Phoenix, Atlanta, etc. the girls LOVED being at the SB. Not the biggest football fans in the world, but being able to go to all the “in” parties ( LOTS of pressure on Dad to get the tickets/passes to get them in!), events, and of course the halftime show, made the weekend the utmost experience. Of course, I had a handful of friends that would join me annually as well. Giving as many of my inner circle a chance to experience the industry that I did every day was worth all the hard work I put In over the years.
Where do you see the future of large sports events and the industry, in general, heading?
Sports continue to be an outlet for the average person. It gives them something to root for and most importantly an escape from their personal and professional lives. For that reason, sporting events will continue to be a “must-go” from both a fan and corporate America standpoint.
Photography by: Courtesy 16W Marketing, Amy Rosner.