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The day that Prince made Super Bowl sportswriters happy

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 For the sportswriter who liked music, it was a perfect blend of the two.

Every year at the Super Bowl, they would introduce the halftime act for a press conference. I was there the years that Michael Jackson, Bruce Springstreen, Billy Joel and Tom Petty would meet with the media.

Usually, the music critics (and those who claimed they were) would show up and fawn over the acts. But the sportswriters were there, too. Most of us were huge music fans, and the thought of seeing stars up close (U2, the Stones, Alicia Keys) was a great aside.

But then there was 2007 — the year of Prince.

Now, Prince was a little different kind of cat. His publicist came out and announced that he wouldn’t answer questions. It didn’t matter. No one left.

So Prince comes out and says, softly, “Contrary to rumors, I will take a few questions.”

The guy behind me, possibly a plant, started to ask a generic question. As he did, Prince slammed a chord and launched into a version of “Johnny B. Goode.” He followed with two more songs. It was, of course, terrific. He went through a few songs with his band. He finished and, still without answering a question, stormed off the stage.

I considered it one of the finest interview sessions ever.

That’s the thing about music. It touches all of us. Whether you like Prince’s heavier funk or “Raspberry Beret.”

It strikes me as a lonely existence now that Prince has died at age 57. I was on a flight once, and the flight attendant and I started swapping celebrity stories. Hers was Prince. He was in first class one day (of course), and she was waiting on him. But she was not allowed to speak directly to him. According to her, she had to ask the bodyguard her questions and he forwarded them. “Would Prince like some more tea?” “I don’t know. Prince, you want some more tea?” “Yes, please. I would like some more.” “Prince will have more tea.” And she would pour.

Rest easy, Prince.

The world will miss you.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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