​Condoleezza Rice on her father and football

One of the many millions of us watching the Super Bowl tonight will be former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- and here she is now:

On February 6, 2005, the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles played in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida. One week earlier, on January 28, I was sworn in as the 66th Secretary of State.

To most people, those dates wouldn't matter, and they certainly wouldn't seem to be related. But for me as the new top American diplomat, I found myself in Israel the weekend of Super Bowl XXXIX.

You see, I had attended or watched every single Super Bowl since I could remember -- thirty-eight of them, to be be exact. And in 2005, I was not about to let that year be any different.

condoleezza-rice-father-244.jpg
An undated photo of Condoleezza Rice with her father, John Wesley Rice, Jr., a Presbyterian minister, teacher and football coach. Courtesy of Condoleezza Rice

My love of football started with my father. Daddy was a high school football coach who loved the game. He had wanted me to be his "All-American linebacker," and had I been a son instead of a daughter, I think I might have done it. But instead, he taught his little girl to be a student of the game.

Every week, we'd race to the store to get Street & Smith's Pro Football Report. We would watch the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturdays, and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Which brings me back to Super Bowl XXXIX. Kick-off was at 1:30 a.m. Monday morning, Israel time. Would there be any sports bars open all night in Jerusalem? Would the hotel sports channels carry American football on TV? Could I stay up that late? All important questions, and this NFL fan needed answers.

Thankfully, my staff had arranged to tape the game in our hotel in Jerusalem. I was supposed to get a few hours of sleep and be prepared for the next day, and then I would watch the game later.

Just couldn't do it. I got up in the middle of the night and watched the game.

I predicted to my colleagues that the Patriots would win by three on a late field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Final score that year? Patriots 24, Eagles 21.

Even half a world away from that stadium and several years after his death, I couldn't help but miss my dad, and wish he was there with me to watch the Super Bowl.

For more info: