My Super Bowl DiaryPosted:Feb 9th, 2011 6:55 pm
A few of you asked, so I'll try not to bore with you the recap. Remember, this was a business trip. Go to Dallas, bring home the Lombardi, come home. If you're looking for late nights and juicy stories, you'll have to dig through the archives for my Super Bowl XXXI experience in New Orleans.
Saturday, 10:00am: Finished "In the Zone" with a rare 'Go Pack' and hopped in Double T's car for a trip to the airport. My broadcast partner was kind enough to drive me, allowing me to focus and get my game face on.
Saturday, 11:30am: Flight takes off for Atlanta. Yes, Atlanta. I know, but I wanted to use my Delta miles and with 50,000 miles, I had to fly through Atlanta. It pretty much doubled my flight time, but I had no luggage checked and I had my iPod and Kindle, so it was all good.
Saturday, 5:30pm: Arrived in Dallas, met by my buddy Jamie, who was on a direct flight and landed about 45 minutes before I did. Background on Jamie: poker and football-watching buddy. Vikings season ticket holder, but part of the group that cheers for the Pack once the Vikings are out of it. Airport is decked out in everything Super Bowl; we're handed a commemorative large edition of SI, with recaps of all 44 Super Bowls. Jackson loves it (except reading about the Vikings Super Bowl losses and Packer victories, sigh). We grab our rental and head to the Hampton Inn.
Saturday, 7:00pm: I quickly realize why I found this hotel at the reasonable rate of $180 a night, ten days before the game. It's in a dumpy area, next to a closed down La Quinta Inn and surrounded by "gentlemen's" clubs. More on that later....no, it's not what you think. We head to a tequila bar called Trece that Jamie's wife found online. Our reservations are for 9, but we figure we'll hang out at the bar and maybe get a table early.
Saturday, 7:30-11:30pm: Cool place in a cool neighborhood. We go for the tequila sampler, three generous shots of high end tequila (sipping variety) and order some guacamole. Run into some Steeler fans who were cool, but were quick to tell us they were sitting on the 50 yard line, second row. Jerks. So, our table wasn't ready at 9. The place was packed with big groups and we were finally seated at 10:15. Probably for the best, after polishing off the tequila sampler. The restaurant made up for the tardy seating by providing us with a bottle of wine and comping our meals. Lots of Steelers fans in the place. I didn't see any Packer fans.
Saturday, midnight: As we approach our exit, it's completely backed up. We're stuck, not moving for ten minutes. Great. Wiped out from waking early to do the radio show, two flights, said tequila, etc. Was there an accident? No, the aforementioned gentlemen's clubs were filling up and we were in line with everyone else. Finally got to our hotel and I crashed, knowing I had to drive 40 minutes to downtown Fort Worth to do my radio show in the morning. Wake-up call set for 6:30.
Sunday, 7:30am: I'm in a coffee shop in the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott. Prepping for my show with a cup of coffee and getting set to head up to Justin Gaard's hotel room to broadcast "Packer Preview." Radio row it's not--but at least JG was dressed. Had a great time with the show, getting pumped up for game day. It's not the easiest doing radio on the road, but Justin and producer Ryan helped it go smoothly.
Sunday, 10:00am: Jamie and I met up with my brother's family for breakfast. Awesome to see "Packer Preview" past and current prognosticators nephews Sam and Zach, plus their sister Ellee and brother Justin. My brother, whose company makes the "Head Cheese" blankets, had one made into a sportcoat, with beads, Packer tie and a Cheesehead cowboy hat (I'll have a bunch of photos posted in the photo gallery soon).
Sunday, noon: Parked for a C note about a half mile from the stadium, right next to a giant Steelers tailgate party: wonderful. We walk around the stadium to get a feel of things and then lined up to be allowed in to the plaza area. We thought it opened at noon but didn't open till 1:15. We stood in line for about a half hour and were told that large binoculars and cases would be confiscated. Great, I borrowed a pair from a relative--really nice ones. Fortunately, they didn't take them. Later, a woman seated near me said hers were taken from her. I don't get it. It's a sporting event.
The plaza area was very cool. Blue Man Group performing. Reality of the Texas-sized version of the Super Bowl experience: Margaritas were $19 and beers were $10. Lots of sponsorship display areas, merchandise tents and food. We walked around to the front of the stadium and saw Bart Starr at the Fox set. Mingled around till they opened the doors at around 2:30.
Sunday, 2:30-5:30pm: First, we went to check out our seats. Not bad. End zone, second level, 27th row. Glad I still have the binoculars. The place is absolutely gigantic. TV doesn't do it justice. What strikes me is how many tens of thousands of seats are really, really far from the field. But the humongous video boards allow you to watch as if you were at home, except for the ten dollar beers and bathroom lines.
We walked around and found the Pro Shop. Place was mobbed, but I scooped up a couple Super Bowl mini footballs for the kids. Then grabbed something to eat and waited for kickoff. My brother's family got to the stadium at about 3 and were in such a crowd they didn't get to their seats until about 4:30. Packer fans all around me, including a gentleman from DC and his two daughters next to me--he said he had visited this site. That was pretty cool.
Sunday, 5:30-9:30pm: I've already written about the game. What I look back on now are a couple of things. The Nick Collins pick six generated the most excitement until the end of the game. Grabbing a 14-0 lead was huge--no Super Bowl team has ever come back from more than 10 points. We were sobered at the end of the half, when the Steelers scored to get back in the game and we found out Woodson, Shields and Driver were questionable to return. When the team came out of the tunnel, I had the binocs trained on the team, waiting to see if Woodson was in uniform. He finally appeared, well after the rest of the team, in sweats. What a buzzkill. I had one moment of negativity (I think my exact words were 'I've got a bad feeling about this'), at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Nephew Sam called me on it. Told me to be positive. And on the very next play, Matthews and Pickett forced the Mendenhall fumble and the momentum, and the game, turned the Packers' way.
Like all of you, when the Pack settled for three and gave the ball back to Ben with two minutes to go and a six point lead, I feared the worst. I mean, Pat Lee and Jarrett Bush were in the secondary, in place of Woodson and Shields. But they held up well and the drive ended before it started and the Packers were Super Bowl champions again. The scene with the confetti falling and fans hugging and reality setting in was indescribable. (Side note, my cell phone died late in the fourth quarter--I'd been trying to preserve it after tweeting a bunch of photos before the game. Didn't get to tweet as much in the second half as I would have liked) After the trophy ceremony, the stadium played the "Go Pack Go" cheer, giving all of us a chance to scream one more time.
Sunday 10:00pm: Headed back to the hotel and watched as much reaction on ESPN as I could while I wrote my post-game blog, then crashed. Before I knew it, I was headed to the airport at 7:15. It wasn't as packed as I expected; tried to console some Steeler fans while waiting in security. Got to my gate and taped my appearance with P.A. Then I noticed a Super Bowl kiosk and bought a few hats and a couple of t-shirts. Jumped on the plane, went through Detroit and got home at about 2:30 on Monday. And spent much of the rest of the day going through texts and emails.
Wow, kind of feel like I just wrote a Bill Simmons column. Hope I haven't bored you to sleep. I promise to add a new football-themed blog in the next day or so. I'll continue to write throughout the offseason, whenever there's Packer news, or the spirit moves me. I'll promise this, as an homage to Peter King, who I ran into at Starbuck's in Chicago, the morning of the NFC Title game, I will post a new blog every Monday morning called the Monday Morning Armchair Quarterback (MMAQB). I really appreciate everybody visiting and I will keep pounding out material so we can all keep talking about our World Champs.