ESPN has been the star of Fort Worth's Super Bowl week so far, braving the ice, snow and frigid temperatures to broadcast from the heart of Sundance Square. On Friday night, ESPN The Magazine took center stage with its Next party at River Ranch in the Stockyards.
In classic Cowtown style, the brown carpet featured a cowhide backdrop and fencing to keep the media in its pen. Inside a mechanical bull and antler chandeliers shared a massive space with saloon girls, a Full Swing golf range and more Absolut vodka than Kid Rock and his crew could drink in a lifetime.
New Orleans Saints RB Reggie Bush and Olympic gold-medal winning gymnast Nastia Luikin were among the early arrivals, and Snoop Dog snuck in (and out) quickly, but the star-studded guest list that was expected never materialized: No Michael Vick or Mark Sanchez. Not T.O. or Tony Romo. And definitely no Marissa Miller, Hayden Panettiere or Hugh Jackman. Guess they were all having too much fun in Dallas at the Playboy, GQ and Audi parties?
Nelly strolled in around 10:30, and said he wont be making a cameo at this years halftime show, despite rumors. There was also a nice mix of ESPN personalities (Chris Berman, Bonnie Bernstein, Chris Mortensen, Michael Wilbon, Steve Levy, Sage Steel), current NFL stars (pro bowler Andre Johnson and AP defensive rookie of the year Ndamukong Suh) and legends (Tony Dorsett, Doug Williams and Kellen Winslow).
TD is picking the Steelers, BTW, and still looks like he could suit up and play in the game Sunday.
If the NEXT party seemed a little low-wattage for an affair that was voted the No. 1 Super Bowl party last year in Miami, Kid Rock changed all that when he took the stage in the massive tented back area and gave the entire event a much-needed jolt.
Clad in his signature sunglasses, black lid and rumpled T-shirt, he tore into his set and sing-along hits like All Summer Long. He threw in a couple of curveballs, too, such as the Dukes of Hazzard theme, a defiant rant against American Idol and funny song about turning 40 (he celebrated his 40th last month.) And when Rev Run of the seminal rap group Run DMC bounded onto the stage for a few songs, including Walk This Way, the cell-phone wielding crowd all moved closer to try to capture the magical moment.
The live music wrapped around 1 a.m., when DJ Ruckus cranked things up in the main room. Tipsy dudes and ladies in sparkly dresses way to short for 20 degrees danced for another hour or so to tunes like the hyper-popular Black and Yellow, when the DJ told us we didnt have to go home, but we had to get the heck up outta here.
So we did, happy to have spent a night on The Ranch with Kid Rock and the ESPN crew. But just a tad disappointed we didnt get to meet Jennifer Aniston or Brooklyn Decker. Thats what we get for believing in rumors.