Football fans fraternize for frenzied Super Bowl XLVI Eyes on game, fun

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Lou DiNardo, left, Frank Tondo, wearing a Patriots jersey, and John Wojtkowiak, all of Boardman, watch the Super Bowl on Sunday at the Youngstown Sports Grille, a Boardman bar and restaurant.

By Peter H. Milliken


Some came to cheer for the New York Giants and others for the New England Patriots as the teams faced each other in Super Bowl XLVI. Still others remained neutral.

But everyone came to enjoy the food, drink and social atmosphere of a popular bar and restaurant.

With its 35 high- definition plasma television screens, the Youngstown Sports Grille was hospitable to those supporting either team or maintaining neutrality as they watched NBC’s live game coverage on 21 WFMJ-TV.

Providing pre-game entertainment during the afternoon in the bar was the River Riders band.

Steelers fan Marla Nardo of Sharon, Pa., was cheering for the Giants “because New England’s been there so many times, and [Tom] Brady was awfully cocky this year against the Steelers.”

She added: “I’d like to see Eli Manning win. His brother, Peyton, gets all the fame, so it’s nice to see Eli in there.” She got her wish as the Giants won 21-17.

Like many other customers, Nardo is a fan of Ohio State University football.

“It’s more fun with a bunch of people instead of just at home,” Nardo said, explaining why she came to the Boardman establishment to watch the big game.

“It’s fun. We’ve been coming here watching the Steelers’ games all season, and it’s just amazing the crowd they get in this place, and the food’s good, and it’s a lively atmosphere,” she said, referring to herself and her boyfriend, who lives in Struthers.

Wearing a Patriots No. 12 jersey, representing New England quarterback Tom Brady, was Frank Tondo of Boardman, who is a Patriots fan throughout the season and a regular customer of the establishment.

“When the Browns left in ’95, I had nobody really to cheer for, and I like Brady because he came from Michigan, and he beat the Steelers,” Tondo explained.

Tondo, who was one of a group of six men watching the game together in the bar, said viewing the game in a bar or restaurant is “more fun” than watching it on his home TV.

“They’ve got a good coach. (Bill) Belichick used to be a Browns coach. Now he’s at New England. It’s a good team. They beat the Steelers,” Tondo said of the Patriots.

Another group, consisting of Dr. Angelo Petrolla of Poland, a local podiatrist, Dan Lyden of Boardman, a retired information-technology specialist, both wearing Ohio State attire, and insurance agent Bill Shattuck of Canfield ensconced itself about 90 minutes before the game began at a corner-restaurant table with a TV screen directly above it.

Lyden, a Steelers fan, cheered for the Giants because he’s a fan of Eli Manning and Warren G. Harding graduate Mario Manningham.

Petrolla said he was neutral in the Super Bowl. “I think they’re both good teams,” he said of the Giants and Patriots.

“I’m kind of leaning towards the Giants,” said Shattuck, a fan of the Browns and Ohio State.

The Youngstown Sports Grille geared up to sell more than 5,000 pounds of wings and more than 75 racks of ribs on Super Bowl Sunday, said owner Sean Pregibon, whose business included a substantial number of take-out food orders for private home parties.

After Valentine’s Day, Pregibon is expecting a major surge in business in mid-March for the NCAA basketball tournament, the local St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 11 and St. Patrick’s Day itself.

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