The atmosphere surrounding the stadium was one of excitement, confusion, frustration, happiness, camaraderie, inebriation…really just a mish mosh of emotions that in any combination ultimately panned out in a highly positive way, because no matter what, we were all at the Super Bowl, everyone there had to be loving life. For example, if you have personal space issues, or claustrophobic tendencies, the Super Bowl may not be the best place for you. Though I wouldn’t say my claustrophobic tendencies are high, they were certainly tested by the crowds eagerly trying to navigate their way into the stadium, the gift shops, the bars, the bathrooms, their seats…my group was lucky enough to have super tall Phil, wearing his proud new Cheesehead purchase, because when I was in doubt and fearing I may have lost the group and become a stranded little girl that someone would have to announce over the stadium loudspeaker for her friends to come and find…I looked to the Cheesehead leading the way (not that this made much sense because he was certainly not the only Cheesehead in our midst).
After about an hour of being herded like confused cattle being sent off to slaughter (my apologies) the group emerged in our section and had our “first view” of the heart of the stadium: the field and the stands in their entirety. This “first view” as I will now refer to it when attending a game at a stadium for the first time, has quickly become one of my favorite experiences though I have now only had it twice. My first view at Soldier Field made me oddly think of a Quidditch stadium at Hogwarts…my first view at Cowboys Stadium made me feel like I was a tiny person in a futuristic world in space where everyone lives on steel spaceships roaming the cosmos. I’m assuming I felt this way for a few reasons. One reason of course is the sheer size of the stadium, it is seriously massive. Then there is the also the colossal jumbo-tron hanging from the ceiling, which is amazing because no seat can really be a bad seat. And finally, there’s the fact that the stadium had its “sunroof closed” only enhancing the spaceship feel. As some of you may know, the top of the stadium is retractable. I was told, mildly sarcastically, by my plane buddies on the flight down to Dallas that the stadium was designed that way so that “God could watch his favorite team,” oh, Dallas. Either way, the stadium is proof alone that the old cliché of everything being bigger in Texas, is true.
One of the most fun aspects of this past weekend was getting to meet all of the other bloggers from the other legs of the Chrysler 200 road trip. We were a very eclectic group of people and sites, but when mixed all together a fun group of people whom I feel fortunate to have met and am now able to call my new buddies (post with all their URLs is soon to come!). Of course all of the bloggers have their own team loyalties and unfortunately most of us were not lucky enough to see our teams in the big game. However, one blogger, Matt from NFL Gridiron Gab, is a die hard Steelers fan and was lucky enough to get to see his team in the Super Bowl. Though the rest of us were not too concerned with whatever the outcome would ultimately be, we all happened to be rooting for the Packers. It’s always more fun to experience a game surrounded by die hard fans and I was lucky to have Matt, the lone Steelers fan, sitting next to me, however, as I’m sure you can guess he was not always the happiest customer in the stadium (Check out Matt’s book 100 Things Steelers Fans Should Know & do Before They Die)…Not to mention I think I dangerously came close to being hit with his terrible towel a few times (however, I probably would have wanted to hit me if I were him…a non die hard fan of either team with a chosen alliance to Green Bay jumping up and down and screaming every time the Packers did well…I must have been one annoying Mexican jumping bean of a girl).
After having been to two NFL games, I can say with certainty that there is a distinct difference between the atmosphere at a playoff game vs. the Super Bowl (despite both being unbelievable and fun). In Chicago the die-hards had surrounded us; the guys who have had season tickets passed down through generations and attend every game rain or shine, snow or sleet…the guys who scream obscenities that if acted out might land them in jail. This is fun to be around, but also nerve racking because when crossed and devastated by their team’s misfortunes, you have to wonder what actions these fans may take. The Super Bowl is different though…it’s not at any hometown stadium and it’s kindaaa pricey so to be able to invest you have to have some cash saved up for a rainy day…or a Super Bowl fund piggy jar works too! Sure the fan enthusiasm was contagious and intense, but there wasn’t the average Joe football fan (as Palin might refer to them), home team enthusiasm feel to the same degree because a lot of the people there were like me…their team was no longer in the equation and they were supporting another team by default. That being said, I in no way mean to diminish the level of enthusiasm and excitement that was coursing through Cowboys’ Stadium’s veins Sunday night…it was just a different kind of drug with a different kind of high class high.
Another big part of the pump-up excitement inducing aspect of the game was the jumbo-tron itself and what was being shown on it. First of all, that thing is both a blessing and a curse. I’m sitting there at the freaking Super Bowl in person and I can’t stop watching the game happening on the screen…I had to force myself to snap out of it and look at the actual field (but seeing Aaron up close and personal on that huge thing is just too tempting). Then there were the videos being shown on it during commercial breaks…trivia, team history, Super Bowl history…fun videos that enhanced the whole aura of how big the event actually was and how monumental it is to be an active participant.
As you all know, I was rooting for the Packers. Again, as you all know, I was a happy happy lady with how exciting the game was and then with the outcome. I had said that I hoped the game would be close…no blow-out crap…I wanted a down to the last second kind of game (with the Packers at least in the lead for the majority) that had me guessing and cringing and sitting on the edge of my seat…and that’s exactly the kind of game the Steelers and Packers gave us. There were also some seriously exciting plays thrown into the mix Sunday night…I think my favorite has to have been when Packers’ Safety Nick Collins intercepted Roethlisberger’s pass and ran it for 37 yards into the end zone…ridiculous (take that Big Ben!). When the Packers won and the team rushed the field, the streamers fell, and the fans cheered and congratulated their fellow fans surrounding them, that was just the bestest thing ever, I never wanted it to end.
To say I had a wonderful first, and hopefully not last, Super Bowl experience would be an understatement. I’m so sad the road trip is over, that this experience has come to an end, but I will absolutely never forget it. What a great way to end my first season of football fandom. And now that football season is over…what am I going to do in the off-season? Help? Suggestions?