When National Football League officials asked Dante Tyson-Bey for help at the Super Bowl, Alabama State University’s head equipment manager didn’t hesitate.
The job didn’t offer any pay, but it was an opportunity Tyson-Bey couldn’t refuse.
“Working at the next level is always a great opportunity,” he said. “You’ve got coaches and players who have played the game and never get to the Super Bowl in their careers, so it was exciting for me.”
Tyson-Bey had worked as a voluntary assistant at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, but this time it was a different role and a different setting.
“I was just helping with headsets,” he said. “Headsets are very difficult. If the headsets don’t work, the coaches can’t communicate so you have to go in and hook them up, but each headset is different. Like, our headsets here are $65,000. Their headsets are way over $100,000, maybe $200,000.
“I love doing headsets but it’s a heck of a job. People don’t see behind the scenes what the equipment managers do on game day or the week leading up to the game. We do a lot of work. A lot of work.”
In his previous Super Bowl work, Tyson-Bey had worked with the replay booth at Lucas Oil Stadium, a job he was somewhat familiar with after spending a year on the equipment staff of the Colts a decade ago. This time, his work with the Super Bowl would take place at the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever been to San Francisco and Santa Clara, where they played the game, is just down the road,” Tyson-Bey said. “It was awesome. The weather was great in the day time. But at night, the weather changes so fast. It was a great experience, it was exciting.
“I was just glad to be there, to see a lot of the celebrities and the different people. We got a chance to go out a couple of times and they have all types of parties. We got a chance to mingle, do a lot of networking.”
Tyson-Bey is now in his eighth year with the Hornets, overseeing the athletic equipment room and locker room facilities while maintaining the Hornets’ equipment and surpervising his equipment staff. Prior to joining the Hornets, he worked in a similar position at Alcorn State in 2007 and 2008.
Before that, most of his work was in the professional arena, working with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, the WNBA’s Detroit Shock, the Colts (2004) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2005-06) in the National Football League and the Arena Football’s Grand Rapid Rampage and Detroit Fury.
“The NBA championship, it’s exciting,” he said, “but the Super Bowl? It’s a whole other level.”
Tyson-Bey stays busy with the Hornets, but loves the opportunity to mingle at high-profile events. (While at the Super Bowl, he spent time with former Hornet assistant coach Dexter Jackson). That’s one of the reasons he enjoys working as the practice coordinator for the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, which gives him an opportunity to visit with administrators and equipment managers from Sun Belt and Mid-American teams.
“Mr. Williams heard my name from somebody and they gave me a call,” he said. “I’ve been doing it ever since. That’s exciting, too, and it’s the whole week. I appreciate Mr. Johnny Williams helping me out with that.”
Williams, the executive director of the bowl, said he first encountered Tyson-Bey at a bowl-sponsored youth clinic held at Alabama State.
“He came on board then as part of our team,” Williams said. “He’s been a very vital part of our team. He coordinates with the teams about their practices and the logistics with their equipment. He’s been a very, very useful addition not only for our game week but for all of our events because equipment managers are ‘get-it-done’ kind of guys, whether it’s setting up our golf tournament or delivering products to different venues.”
But all of his local work pales in comparison to working at the Super Bowl. And while the job was voluntary, the National Football League paid for his travel and accomodations, an opportunity he hopes will return next year.
“I just went out there and tried to do my best,” he said. “It was exciting for me and for somebody to give me that opportunity is always a pleasure. I really appreciate it.”