Hinsdale fans ready for the big game

Most more interested in great football than whether the Chiefs or 49ers win the title


Last updated 2/7/2024 at 4:09pm | View PDF

Jim Zajicek (far left with his son, Luke) said his favorite Super Bowl was in 2022, when he got to cheer on his nephew, L.A. Rams center Brian Allen (not pictured) with Brian's brothers, Jack and Matt, and his brother and sister-in-law, John and Leslie Allen. (photo provided)

Jim Zajicek isn't too invested in who wins the Super Bowl on Sunday, since his nephew Brian Allen won't be on the field.

"If the Rams aren't playing, I don't really care," he said.

Zajicek watched his nephew and the L.A. Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., in Super Bowl LVI two years ago. Allen, a Hinsdale native and Hinsdale Central graduate, is the team's center.

"I was there with my older boy, Luke. It was awesome," Zajicek said. "It was in their home stadium, too, so we got a chance to see Brian the day before the game.

"My son, just seeing him take it all in was really special," he said. "The Super Bowl is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to a 12-year-old. Watching their cousin play is out of this world."

Zajicek wasn't the only football fan who wasn't overly concerned with who takes home the Vince Lombardi Trophy Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Hinsdale's Craig Boggs will be rooting for the Chiefs because of their quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.

"They've been fun to watch this season," he said. "Mahomes is just so solid in these situations. I think San Francisco might have the better team, but I think Mahomes will conquer in this one."

Boggs typically roots for the Vikings, a team he's loved since he was a kid.

"In 1970, my favorite color was purple and they were in the Super Bowl," he said. "Their quarterback was a guy named Joe Kapp. I don't know why I was so fascinated with him."

Kay Sharples, a Hinsdale Falcon Football Board member, is rooting for the 49ers because of the team's connection to her home state of Iowa. Quarterback Brock Purdy and tight end George Kittle both played college ball there, Purdy for Iowa State University and Kittle for rival University of Iowa.

"They've got an Iowa Hawkeye and an Iowa State Cyclone on the same team," Sharples noted.

She hopes for a good, evenly matched game.

"I like having a reason to watch it all the way through to the fourth quarter - when it's a fun game to watch," Sharples said.

Hinsdale Central varsity football head coach Brian Griffin, who'd like to see the San Francisco 49ers win for a change of pace, agreed.

"When you don't have a horse in the race, I normally root for a good game," he said.

His favorite Super Bowls - the Giants and the Patriots in 2008 and the Patriots and the Seahawks in 2015 - were both close games.

"Those games that come down to those last plays or last drives or last moments have been a lot of fun," he said. "There was a Super Bowl with the Rams where they got tackled against the Patriots just short of the goal line. That was a lot of fun." (The Patriots won that 2002 edition 20-17 with a last-second field goal for the franchise's first championship.)

Hinsdale Central athletic director Mike Jezioro hopes to make it home in time from his daughter's swim meet to watch the game.

"My children's sports still take precedence over the Super Bowl - unless the Bears were playing in it," he said.

Living in a house with a wife and four daughters, Jezioro said he has no problem with the attention given to Taylor Swift, who's dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

"I think that's the only reason I'm allowed to have it on the TV - that and the halftime show," he said.

Working in an office with Kelly Watson and Wanda Swik, he said he hears plenty of conversation about Swift.

"I'm used to it by now," he said.

And he sees the affect her attendance has had on one of his girls.

"It's funny, my youngest, who is only in second grade, asked me almost two weekends ago when Taylor Swift's football team is going to be on TV," he said.

With so many programs available on demand, the Super Bowl is one of the rare times millions of people are all watching the same thing, Griffin said.

"There's nothing like it on television any more," he said. "Everybody is kind of doing it together and it's this spectacle. I think it's unique and something special. I enjoy that part of it, too."

Boggs said the game really is more than just a contest between two teams - it's the culmination of six months of football. At the party he attended last year, a college student started yelling at the end of the third quarter for everyone to be quiet so he could share this thought.

"Hey, this is the last time we're going to watch football for six months," Boggs recalled him saying. "Let's listen to the game and have fun."

Jack DiNardo usually watches the Super Bowl with his wife and friends at a party, but she will be out of town this year. So he'll make the quick trip from his home on Eighth Street to his childhood home on Oak to watch the game with his parents and sister and her family. His dad, Larry - a two-time All-American and co-captain at Notre Dame - is another big football fan.

DiNardo said he doesn't mind all the hoopla that surrounds the big game.

Jack DiNardo, a star defensive end for Hinsdale Central who went on to play at Northwestern University, plans to watch the Super Bowl at his parents' house. He moved back to town with his wife Stevie, also a Central alum, and their two children C. J. and Joey. (file photo, photo provided)

"I'm definitely a big football fan, but the pageantry for the Super Bowl is just kind of fun," he said. "The commercials, the halftime show, I don't see it as a distraction. I see it as a fun, national event."

But he wouldn't want every football game to be broadcast the same way.

"I'm glad every game is not five hours long, but once a year it's no big deal," he said. "It's fun."

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean


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