|Playboy bunnies pose at one of the many parties during Super Bowl week. (US Presswire)|
The Super Bowl is a big event to some, but to others it's just the cherry on top of a week of over-the-top parties and concerts. Over the years the parties have become as much of an attraction as the actual game. Each year they seem to get more extravagant and each party tries to one-up the other.
In order to give you the full Super Bowl experience, I stayed up into the wee hours of the night sampling hors d'oeuvres, rocking out with Lil Wayne and partying with Playboy bunnies for research.
It's a tough job, but some one has to do it.
Each party is rated with the super scientific "Squirrel Factor" rating system, named after Ray Lewis' famous squirrel dance. If the party is hot enough to make you squirrel dance on your kitchen table it gets five squirrels. If the event is not cool enough to make you nod your head it gets one squirrel.
EA Madden Bowl
The Madden Bowl has evolved from a quaint lounge party where players came to play as their virtual self to an all-out extravaganza complete with musical performances. Arian Foster, Drew Brees, Victor Cruz and plenty others grabbed a remote control while thousands of onlookers watched them juke and shake virtual opponents on two large screens. Players got out of their seats and trash talked, further showing they are competitive in everything they do. After the games were over, and the final scores tallied, the real party began. A-Town product Big Boi rocked the stage on his 38th birthday with solo joints and songs from the Outkast days. Then the Crescent City's own, Lil Wayne, took the stage while simultaneously taking all of our common sense as we lost our minds to his tracks.
Celebs present: Terrell Owens, David Koechner, Jerry Rice, Eddie George, Donovan McNabb, Holly Robinson Pete and Arian Foster.
Squirrel factor: 5.
I give this five squirrels because a concert and party is all about dancing and that's just what Lil Wayne and Big Boi delivered. Their tracks had me doing the squirrel, the baseball bat, the dougie and some other dance moves that may confuse my dad. Actually playing Madden was the icing on the cake.
ESPN NEXT Party
When your business is sports, your party has to be sports too. Which is why ESPN held it's party inside of a … wait for it…. football stadium. The location, Tad Gormley Stadium, wasn't downtown, which made it difficult to get too. However, once you got there it was totally worth it. Partygoers were greeted with a replica of the LACMA street light display and once inside they rocked out to the sounds of Cee-Lo Green and Goodie Mob. And no Super Bowl party is complete without a confetti explosion. It felt like I won the Super Bowl and that I was awaiting the Lombardi trophy and Jim Nantz to ask me for an acceptance speech. The best part of the party was that there was no snooty VIP feel. Everyone got to party with everyone and even rub shoulders with their favorites celebrities and athletes.
Celebs present: Holly Robinson Peete, Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson, Kelly Rowland and Donovan McNabb.
Squirrel factor: 3.
I give this three squirrels because Cee-Lo's performance with Goodie Mob had the potential to be awesome but partygoers were not keen on the hip-hop history that was on stage. The confetti shower, the football stadium and the lack of a VIP area made this one of the most enjoyable parties of the week.
Audi Forum New Orleans
The highlights for some of our team members were simply, well, getting picked up at the hotel in an Audi A7 and dropped back off in a Q7. Between those chariot rides, the crew rubbed elbows with football legends Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. The setting was legendary as well. Literally. Hosted at the cavernous Ogden Museum of Southern Art, which has a 40-year history and has featured works by Jacques Amans, William Henry Buck and Dominico Canova. Providing the soundtrack to the night were Solange Knowles and Diplo and as for the celeb factor? Cannonball! Will Ferrell, rocking his Anchorman 2 mustache, stole the show, mingling with fans throughout the VIP section. He was joined by former Attack of the Show host Olivia Munn, The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner and actress Anna Faris.
Celebs present: Will Ferrell, Olivia Munn, Jeremy Rennar, Anna Faris, Stacy Keilber (former Ravens cheerleader), Jim Brown, Barry Sanders
Squirrel Factor: 3.
Solange did a great job of keeping the party hyped while guests like Will Ferrell and Anna Faris kept us laughing. Also, did we mention that Audi picked up partygoers in swanky Audi rides. Nice touch, Audi.
DIRECTV Celebrity Beach Bowl
This “flag football meets beach party” event has become a staple at the Super Bowl and it's obvious why. The one thing celebrities love more than watching sports is playing them. And this is the one chance they get to do that during Super Bowl week. Snoop Lion is a perennial favorite in the game despite his allegiance to the other game of futbol. Olympian Lolo Jones made her inaugural appearance in the Beach Bowl and once again, she didn't walk away with a win. The Blue Team, coached by Michael Strahan, ended up taking home the championship. Maybe next year Lolo?
Celebs present: Ian Somerhalder, Jillian Barberie, Jesse Wlliams, AJ Calloway, Anthony Anderson, Strahan and Warren Moon.
Squirrel factor: 2.
This event is a celebrity junkie's dream, but squirrels are reserved for events where you can get your groove on and this wasn't one of them. The awesome VIP gifting suite featuring Keratin hair products, Boomphones headphones and TRX training equipment among other things saved the day.
Held in a historic mansion on St. Charles street, this was another out-of-the-way party that was worth the trip. As if the huge GQ magazine cover photo of Kate Upton in a bikini top wasn't cool enough, Upton herself made an appearance at the event. Every man present was in heaven, and every woman wanted to be her. Victor Cruz, who I believe has a stunt double because he was at every party all week, was also present. When you got done fawning over Kate you could have your photo taken with authentic New Orleans brass instruments, your fortune told by a tarot card reader or have a custom t-shirt made with the GQ and Lacoste logos. After you finished stuffing your face with mini quiche and adult beverages, Lil Wayne treated you to an intimate performance. For those who didn't want to grab a cab back downtown, there was a DeLorean parked out front. They just had to make sure not to hit 88 mph.
Celebs present: Terry Crews, Hayden Panettiere, Chris Johnson and David Arquette.
Squirrel factor: 4.
I give this event four squirrels because of its unique location and intimate feel. I was so close to Lil Wayne that I could read his road map of tattoos. You can't buy that kind of access. Also, once again Lil Wayne doesn't disappoint when it comes to making you nod your head.
Maxim Party presented by Patron Tequila
Upon arrival Greek goddesses wrapped in white robes with gold leaf crowns greeted you. Proceed further down the carpet and goddesses in a chariot with a bottle of Patron glided toward you. Is this heaven? No, but it was pretty close. Once inside patrons could take photos with people dressed like Greek statues or get their Atlas staue on by posing with a faux boulder. Or they could have a god profile printed out for them. I didn't have one done but I assume mine would say something like “Adena: Goddess of Everything Awesome.”
Celebs present: Sway, Terrell Owens, Lolo Jones, Patrick Warburton, Anthony Mackie, Anthony Anderson and Kyle Busch.
Squirrel factor: 3.
Live performances usually get me dancing more than a DJ but the music was pretty banging at this party held in a huge warehouse. There was plenty of room to shake your tail feather.
The Playboy Party presented by Crown Royal
The title says it all. This is the most legendary party of the week. Upon entry a rainbow of Playboy bunnies greet patrons, making it very difficult to leave. Once inside, dancers dressed in bedroom attire are strewn around the venue, moving in an extremely suggestive manner. It's Playboy, what else did you expect? When you were done ogling the dancers, you could grab a Mardi Gras mask to complete your sexy, mysterious look. There's was also a fortuneteller present to tell you who you would be leaving the party with.
Celebrities present: Who cares? There were Playboy bunnies, complete with ears and cottontails, present.
Squirrel factor: 4.
A performance by hip-hop artist B.O.B was just enough to get me in a groove. Plus, the scantily clad dancers sprinkled throughout the party inspired you to invoke your inner Beyoncé.
DIRECTV's Super Saturday Night Party
Partygoers were blessed with DJ Questlove on the ones and twos but the real gift came when Justin Timberlake took the stage to perform his new and old hits. Next to Beyoncé's performance, this was the most talked about concert of the weekend. Timberlake's two-hour show was his first in almost five years. He performed his new single Suit and Tie and was joined on stage by none other than Jay Z and Timbaland. Fittingly, this was the last big party before the big game and it delivered.
Celebrities present: Alec Baldwin, Gayle King, Maria Menounos, Will Ferrell, John Legend, Kate Upton, Tom Arnold and Landon Donovan.
Squirrel factor: 5.
Why so many squirrels you ask? I'll give you three reasons: Justin, Jay Z and Timbaland. Enough said.
By the way, don't think we just partied all week in New Orleans. We worked hard to deliver groundbreaking coverage to our users and we also took time to give back. Our The NFL Today duo of Bill Cowher and Shannon Sharpe took part in a cycling challenge for charity with FlyWheel. Twenty four top athletes got together to see who was the fittest indoor cycler and to raise money for NFL Play 60.
Which party did you think was the hottest? Make your voice heard in the comment section below or on Twitter @NFLMondayQB . Also make sure to check out more Super Bowl XLVII photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also follow Adena Andrews on Twitter @adena_andrews.