“That guy is famous in Mexico,” my husband said Sunday when we were out and about in Super Bowl Village. He was pointing to a distinguished-looking man without a coat having a smoke outside of Circle Centre. Being Mexican, my husband recognized the man as the guy who calls the NFL games on TV in Mexico. Yes, that’s right—futbol isn’t the only type of football with a big fan base south of the border.
The sports journalist was Antonio de Valdes of Televisa, Latin America’s largest network, and he is, indeed, Mexico’s answer to Al Michaels—with 224,000 Twitter followers to prove it. We shocked him a little by approaching and welcoming him to Indianapolis, and he was more than happy to speak—in English, for this gringa—about Mexico and football.
“This is my 20th Super Bowl,” Valdes said. He and two other Latin American networks are on site to call the game for an audience of about 30 million people. They’ll be rooting for the Patriots. “Lots of Patriots fans” in Mexico, Valdes said, “because of the success they’ve had in the past years.”
Valdes reeled off the list of NFL teams by popularity in Mexico: “Dallas is number one. Pittsburgh is number two. Then San Francisco, New England, Raiders, and Miami. I’m a Raiders fan.” Though the Colts didn’t make the list, they were Valdes’ preseason pick to become the first team to play in their hometown Super Bowl. He paused for a puff, then continued. “Dallas thought the same thing last year.”
Indy made a good impression on Valdes, who also travels to the States to cover Major League Baseball games (personally, he roots for the Dodgers). “I didn’t expect this, a big city,” he said. “Let me tell you, this [host city] is the one with the most enthusiasm. Usually you cannot find the atmosphere of the Super Bowl until Thursday or Friday of the game.”