Three Catamounts work behind the scenes at the NFL’s biggest event
By JOHN KENYON
When the Pittsburgh Steelers narrowly defeated the Arizona Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., at Super Bowl XLIII, three Catamounts were there making sure that the audio was set up properly, and that everyone on the field and sidelines was safe.
Bill Clarke ’78 ME ’80, director of WCU’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center, and his son Tyler Clarke, then a WCU sophomore, provided audio support for the various performances and ceremonies. David Rayburn ’68, chief of the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary in Tampa Bay, supervised nine troopers providing security on the field during the game.
“We were responsible for anything that required sound, except for the stadium public address,” said Clarke. “That included the pregame performances by Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill, the halftime show with Bruce Springsteen and the postgame awards ceremony. It almost was to the point that it was a TV special with a football game thrown in.”
Clarke’s years of managing the Ramsey Center and the entertainment stages at the annual Bele Chere festival in Asheville helped prepare him for a project on the scale of the Super Bowl. “My associations, contacts and networking with different companies gave me the background, experience and knowledge to provide that sort of support system,” he said.
Although Clarke has ample experience setting up large performance venues, he still felt the pressure of working in front of such a large crowd. “When I walked out onto the field to do a setup, I would get butterflies even though I wasn’t part of the game. It’s quite the experience,” he said.
While Clarke was ensuring that everything ran smoothly with Springsteen’s audio, Rayburn was providing protection for the players, cheerleaders and media on the sidelines.
“I was on my feet for 11 ½ hours. That was tough,” said Rayburn. “Our primary responsibility was to provide sideline security on the field during the game, which included checking field passes, apprehending trespassers and coordinating the evacuation of the field in the case of an emergency situation.”
This was the third Super Bowl that Rayburn has worked during his 21 years of service in security for the Tampa Sports Authority. “I have missed only four Buccaneer games in that time,” he said.
Rayburn and Clarke knew each other long before Super Sunday. “Bill and I are fraternity brothers, and I have known him since he was a freshman,” said Rayburn. Clarke remembers working for the newsstand on campus that Rayburn once owned. “I was the store manager for him,” said Clarke.
Both described their role at the Super Bowl as the experience of a lifetime and would gladly do it again. “I plan to go to Miami next year. I only hope that I get see Brad Hoover ’00 and the Carolina Panthers,” said Clarke.