SEAN IN THE NEWS
By Jay Cridlin
Published Nov. 23, 2020
Lisa Levine thinks her company’s upcoming Super Bowl celebrity flag football game could look a lot like the one they held last season in Miami.
Retired NFL stars like Michael Irvin, Doug Flutie and Donovan McNabb will pal around with players and celebrities on the sand near Clearwater Beach’s Pier 60. The game will air on ESPN platforms the day before Super Bowl 55 in Tampa. Fans will be able to watch for free.
On the other hand, those fans will have to stay outside a fence, a “beach bubble,” Levine called it, so they don’t come into contact with the stars, who will have been tested and contact-traced for COVID-19.
“We knew Super Bowl week would be different,” said Levine, the president and CEO of Celebrity Sweat, which has brought the charity game to each of the last 20 Super Bowls. “We have a lot of sponsors that are NFL sponsors that are all just very sensitive and pulling back completely. But our thought was, even if we couldn’t have the regular meet-and-greets that we would have, even if we couldn’t have the regular seating as close to the players as possible, that’s fine. They would still be able to enjoy the excitement.”
Less than 80 days from Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium, the celebrity event factor — traditionally a major part of Super Bowl week — remains a big unknown.
The NFL has several long-planned official events penciled in, even as coronavirus cases spike in Florida and around the country. The NFL Experience, an interactive celebration of the game, is still scheduled to wind along Tampa’s Riverwalk. The Weekend is booked to play halftime.
But outside the league, there’s a sense of hesitation about what kind of party Tampa’s next Super Bowl will be.
Major sponsors like Anheuser-Busch and AT&T say they won’t be hosting their usual A-list Super Bowl events in Tampa. And local venues that would, in a normal season, already have events locked in still have dates open on the calendar.
“You can’t really put the show together right now, because you don’t know what kind of show to put together,” said John Santoro, owner of the Ritz Ybor. “The sponsors don’t want to pull the trigger on the money if they don’t see enough eyeballs on their product. And the promoters are kind of stuck in the middle of it all. It’s just a big, big wait-and-see.”
Before the pandemic, the Ritz was already reserved for Super Bowl week, Santoro said. Then sponsors of that party pulled out, and those dates have since been open. Only in the last month have booking discussions started heating up again.
Sean participates in Celebrity Flag Football game with fellow Boston Native Doug Flutie
SALEM — For Salem native Sean Stellato, Saturday night was an evening of good times, old friends and working together for a good cause.
Surrounded by family, friends and supporters of all kinds, Stellato and his 14-year-old daughter Gianna celebrated the release of their latest book, entitled “Football Magic: A Pirate’s Tale.” The book is a follow-up to their first story as a father-daughter writing duo, having released “Football Magic: Buddy’s New Beginning” back in 2019.
“It’s a little surreal to see so many people come out to support the vision and the goal of helping other people,” said Sean Stellato, who currently works as an NFL agent. “And to be here with my daughter, I’m really grateful and blessed to be able to do this and create something that we think will really help change lives.”
“It’s been really fun working together and writing about things that we both love,” said Gianna Stellato. “And to see the reaction from everyone and to see everyone come out here and support us, it’s really incredible.”
The book picks up where the last one left off, with main characters Buddy and Gianna riding high after winning the league championship at school. Even better, Buddy’s dad decided to keep the family in Salem, so that Buddy and his sister can stay with their new friends after adjusting to life in a new town in Massachusetts.
When Buddy and Gianna discover something magical, it leads them on a mysterious adventure through historic Salem and Marblehead. Things seem to be going great — until the wicked Kurtin Drapes and his raven reveal some dreadful plans. With the clock ticking and time running out, will they be able to outwit Drapes? Can Buddy and Gianna do the impossible, or will the magical ball lose its luster forever?
“We already had the basics of our story when we started writing this one, so that helped a lot,” said Gianna Stellato. “And it was fun to then go in and add more characters and make the story bigger and everything like that. It’s a lot more enchanted than the first book and has a lot more magic, and I think we were really able to get more creative with this one.”
The evening began with a VIP reception on the roof of the Hawthorne Hotel at the Salem Maritime Center before moving over to the House of the Seven Gables for the main event.
A number of current and former athletes came out to support Stellato for the event, including but not limited to New England Patriots safety Brandon King, former Patriots safety Obi Melifonwu, Detroit Lions cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, Philadelphia Eagles receiver Michael Walker, former Boston Bruins great Bob Sweeney and Las Vegas Raiders assistant director of player personnel DuJuan Daniels, who wrote the foreword of the book.
“To be honest, it’s a privilege to get to know Sean’s family and be a part of this whole process,” said Daniels, the only client that Sean represents who is on the player personnel side of the football business. “Sean’s an incredibly driven person and he’s doing some great things, so just to play a small role in that is very special to me.”
“Sean has always been so supportive of me and everything I’ve done, even before he was my agent,” said King, who has won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. “So if I can come out and support him in whatever way I can, I’m always going to do that.”
“I’ve known Sean ever since he was a kid working out and trying to make it in college football, and I always remembered his determination and passion for the game,” said Sweeney, who played for the Bruins from 1987-1992. “Obviously that passion has extended into his post-career work with charity, and I’m glad to come out and support his efforts.”
“Sean is a great guy and the epitome of someone who you want to have in your circle,” said Walker. “I’m just happy to be part of an event like this and to play a small part in helping him spread his message.”
The night featured a red carpet event, a book signing, a silent auction, a live auction and a number of different raffles, all to benefit the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation.
For Stellato, the night was a great opportunity to celebrate all the things that he holds dear — his family, his friends, the game of football and serving his community.
“Family is my core and football has been very good to me, and I’ve been blessed to live my bliss every day and have my life enriched by so many incredible people,” said Stellato. “It’s so gratifying to see everyone come out and support our cause, and I’m truly humbled by it all.”