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A Super Bowl Diary: The Final Chapter

A Super Bowl road trip that led off with meeting most of the Giants squad, and capped off with witnessing a championship in Indianapolis.

wednesday, february 8

I decided to wait until this morning to write the final chapter of my Super Bowl diary, so that I did not interfere my final entry with the excitement of yesterday’s parade and rally to celebrate the win.

The other reality is that I am finally rested up (slightly) enough to more thoroughly be able to sum up the experience.

I left New Jersey for Indianapolis with no ticket, or expectations to meet any of the players/owners/legends.  So to end up having experienced what I did in Indianapolis, I consider myself extremely lucky.

The details are below from Saturday’s all day hang-out at the Giants team hotel where I got to meet the likes of team owner John Mara to Brandon Jacobs and Jason Pierre-Paul

Matthew White, Townsquare Media

Matthew White, Townsquare Media

After arriving so early into the game on Sunday to beat security lines, I found myself growing increasingly nervous as the day went on, which built to a crescendo by kick-off.

Kick-off and the build-up to the Super Bowl start made you feel like heart was going to beat out of your chest because of the excitement.  It was palpable.  The NFL truly markets an event like no other.

The game got underway with a feeling that it was nice to finally just watch a football game again, except that every play felt like the game was on the line.

I also did not fully get to enjoy the Madonna half-time show because I was furious that the Giants had just allowed the Patriots to march 96 yards and score a go-ahead touchdown with :08 to go.

Matthew White, Townsquare Media

Both teams did not look especially sharp, which led to the realization that the game would end in dramatic fashion.  The game recap from me is not needed, as it has been watched and talked about a million times.  But basically, from the Manningham catch through the last incomplete Hail Mary from Tom Brady, I do not think that I took a breath.

As the ball fell to the Patriots painted end zone turf, I exhaled and hugged my brother, as all the other Giants fans in my section jumped around and hugged and high-fived.  The post-game celebration was basically 30 more minutes of jubilation before exiting the stadium.  Once the outside of the stadium was reached, my iPhone unfortunately died, so I could not catch what a crazy scene that it was.

Giants fans were hopping, jumping, hugging, and running through the streets of Indianapolis…some even just yelling at the top of their lungs.

The best part of the whole thing was that it was just a good, competitive game inside with spirited fans on both sides, with no fights or arguments that I witnessed.  Maybe the thousand dollars-plus cost of each seat was a major deterrent for people that did not want to risk getting thrown out, but it was just an awesome football atmosphere.

We made our way back to the sports bar at the Giants team hotel to meet up with friends and family.  This time the rest of the hotel was cut-off to anybody besides the team’s friends and families, as a private party was being held inside.  The scene inside Champions sports bar was the same kind of zoo as the stadium and streets were.  It was euphoria for Giants fans.

As I exited the bar a time later with my brother and parents, we got back to our hotel a few miles away, as we planned to leave early in the morning to make the trek back to New Jersey.

I was a combination of every happy emotion, but absolutely exhausted.  Unfortunately, I do not sleep well in cars, so I sat in the car for 10 hours needing sleep desperately, but instead just replaying the good times from the weekend.

The plan leading up to and during the weekend had changed so often, but ended up working out better than I could ever imagined in my wildest dreams.   I got to witness a Giants Super Bowl in person with my brother right next to me, a night after meeting the entire team while hanging out with a venue full of Giants fans with about as positive and cool an energy as I’ve ever been part of.

Andrew Burton, Getty Images

And with the celebrations in the books now, and some fans talking repeats of championships, I am just spent from this run.  It has been so amazing, such a whirlwind, and something I would not trade in for in the world.

I thank everybody who read this blog and joined me in this experience, which I can absolutely call the most fun experience of my life.  Thanks again to Dan Alexander for all of the help with this.

An amazing run….but now back to reality.  Let’s see what kind of news Governor Christie can stir up this week!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6

 

Matt on the road
Somewhere on the road between Indiana and New Jersey (Matthew White, Townsquare Media New Jersey)

The 10+ hour drive back from Indianapolis to New Jersey allows for some serious reflection time on what I just witnessed.

I woke up on Sunday morning already on cloud 9, thinking that if the Giants won the Super Bowl, it would go down as the greatest weekend of my life.

My brother and I spoke about the topic all weekend of the letdown it would be if we had to walk out of that stadium last night hanging our heads in defeat, and watching Pats fans dance in the street.

Thankfully, I do not have to blog about those circumstances.

After a morning of meeting up with friends and family for breakfast, we heard it was best to get into the stadium very early to avoid the security lines. We decided to head in when the gates opened at 2pm. Keep in mind that kick-off was at 6:30 pm, along with the fact that my brother and I normally do not leave our Giants tailgate at Met Life Stadium till about 10 minutes before kick-off.

Lucas Oil Stadium
The security line outside Lucas Oil Stadium (Matthew White, Townsquare Media NJ)

To say the day was backwards would be the understatement of the year.

I made my way into Lucas Oil Stadium around 2:30. What an absolutely beautiful facility. I had plenty of time to see every nook and cranny with the early arrival.

One of the biggest obstacles this weekend was keeping the iPhone charged, especially as I used it for pictures and videos, on top of my normal personal usage.

We brought a charger in with us to power up before the game (people all over the stadium were doing the same).

I’m going to write a full entry about the game when I get back to New Jersey this afternoon. We decided to leave very early to get back at a manageable time.

Thus, I am writing this on aforementioned cell phone as the car cuts through Ohio.

The one thing that bears mentioning is the just what an amazing atmosphere Super Bowl weekend offers. I have been to some cool events in my life, but nothing had that kind of energy and vibe to it.

It was basically a party in the streets of Indy after the victory. We celebrated at the sports bar in the Giants team hotel afterwards. What a scene.

Thanks again to Dan Alexander for his help with this diary. I will check back in later today when I am back to my computer with Internet access.

 

Super Bowl Sunday, February 5

 


First off, a big thanks to our Digital News Coordinator, Dan Alexander, for posting all the stuff I sent him yesterday, including the pictures. As I wrote in my entry, the plan was to write something up andpost it during some down-time between events.

That all changed when we got to the Giants team hotel for what was supposed to be a quick lunch.

Dan was responsible for everything making its way to the website, so a big thank you to him.

When I wrote yesterday’s blog, my group had just made the decision to hang out at the Giants team hotel for the long haul. It can really be summed up as the single coolest day of my life, and I write that line knowing I will be watching the Super Bowl live with my brother as our favorite team plays. To say I feel extremely lucky and blessed right now would be an understatement.

Everybody has their things in life that really make them tick. Sports happens to be mine, so I have to keep pinching myself to remind myself that this weekend is real.

Hats off the Giants and their hotel for allowing fans to hang out, drink, and eat in the lobby ALL DAY with the hopes of meeting their favorite players before the biggest game in sports. The players, both current and former, were engaging and accommodating. The fans were pumped up, but knew the limits of what was going too far in the efforts to meet the Giants team.

It was just an absolutely surreal scene as we saw the likes of people from team owner, John Mara to current players, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, and Ahmad Bradshaw. At times, the scene toed the line of getting too crowded and chaotic, but until I left at about 11PM, order was maintained.

Giants Safety Antrel Rolle (Matthew White, Townsquare Media)

I am not somebody who runs around asking for autographs and pictures to celebrities because I truly do not like hounding people. Working in the media, I have had an opportunity to meet some pretty well-known and important people in my career, so I ordinarily do not get wowed by the sight of celebrities. Last night was one big wow for me.

We happened to have gotten a table in the corner of the lobby before we even realized what was taking place. It really just started as a lunch before we headed back to the hotel. A ton of players walked right by us and said hi, took pictures with us, and shook hands.

This was a night I did not bring my media pass with me because I wanted to take in the whole night as a pure, life-long Giants fan.

As the day and night rolled on, you could see the look on the faces of fans soaking it all in, and like me, wondering if this was real.

The Giants truly rolled out the red carpet for the relatives and friends of their players, who arrived in Indy for the game. They walked around with special credentials, with the team holding a series of events for them throughout the week. All in all, just a totally top-rate operation.

When I woke up this morning to write this blog, I already felt like I had one of the greatest weekends of my life. Then I, of course, remembered that tonight is the real reason I came out here.

I cannot even imagine what this scene will be like out here if the Giants win. The city has done an amazing job of handling the crowds throughout this weekend, and I see no reason that they will not be able to handle tonight.

I have nothing to compare this Super Bowl to because it’s my first time out here, but it has all been run so well. Being able to walk everywhere, including Lucas Oil Stadium, is the thing that everybody has been raving about all weekend. The one complaint is that while the crowds have been managed pretty well, is that the downtown gets very packed by the end of the night. That is to be expected, though.

The naked eye tells me that the amount of Giants fans outnumber the Pats fans out here. I would not say the margin is huge, but it is definitely decisive. I also might be jaded after spending 11 hours with Giants fans yesterday.

I wrote that yesterday was blue heaven for a Giants fan.

If this team gets it done tonight, I wouldn’t even have words to describe.

It’s off to Downtown Indy.

The emotions I have are a combination of euphoria, nervous, anxious, and hopeful…hopeful to put an exclamation point on this amazing sports weekend with a Giants Super Bowl victory.

Enjoy the game everybody!

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4

Brandon Jacobs
Brandon Jacobs (Matthew White, Townsquare Media NJ)

My Blue Heaven

Giants team hotel at the Super Bowl
Giants team hotel at the Super Bowl (Matthew White, Townsquare Media NJ)

I was planning on typing blog two from my hotel room between morning and night activities.

I walked the Super Bowl village to start the morning, before making my way over to the Super Bowl experience, which is a basically an NFL playground with games, shops, and exhibits inside of the enormous convention center downtown.

Being downtown in this area makes you want the game to be here now, but man , what a show the NFL puts on.

As my group decided to go grab lunch before heading back to get ready for tonight, we came to an agreement to grab some food at the Giants team hotel.

I was not completely prepared for the atmosphere I was walking into, especially as a Giants fan.

This hotel can basically be summed up as one big party for Giants fans. Its decked out in blue with merchandise being sold all over and a packed lobby with fans.

Rather than frown upon everybody descending on their hotel, the Giants have embraced the atmosphere here.

In one hour here of hanging out and taking in the scene, I have seen numbered players and front-office personnel, along with the arriving families and friends of the players.

At this point, I have never been so excited for something in my entire life.

I plan to check back in with how this night turns out later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Right now, though, this place is my blue heaven.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Matthew White, Townsquare Media

As I write this first entry, I am about to cross the border from Pennsylvania to Ohio with about 5 hours till I arrive at my first Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

Right after the Giants completed their remarkable run to the Super Bowl by defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, the wheels got spinning on an exhausting two weeks of planning this trip out.

I am a die-hard Giants fan that attends most home games, with my uncle running a very large, long-standing tailgate. The texts started immediately of gauging interest to see who wanted to make the trek out to Indy. I have never had an opportunity to head out to a Super Bowl, so I determined that this is something I wanted to experience.

Prices were not surprisingly through the roof for flights, hotel and tickets to the game. The plan began as a bunch of us going out to Indy to soak in the Super Bowl weekend festivities, tailgate outside of Lucas Oil Stadium, and watch the game to the flat screen TV hooked up to my Uncle’s RV with all my fellow Giant fan friends/family. That was the ORIGINAL plan, while holding out hope of maybe landing tickets somewhere around $1200-$1500, which was not likely with the going rate around $2500.

I realize this plan sounds crazy and idiotic, but I truly wanted to feel Super Bowl weekend as not only a Giants fan, but an absolutely huge sports fan.

Plans change sometimes, though. After hitting logistical snags combined with some people bailing out, the plan was for a scaled down group to go out there and bag the tailgating at the stadium, just hanging out and watching the game in town.

Matthew White, Townsquare Media

As I left with some others this morning, there was uncertainty about what the weekend would hold besides knowing we were driving out there and we had a hotel near the downtown.

That all changed about 2 hours in. I got the call that my brother and I were going to be able to get two face-value tickets for the game.

What a game-changer this has been for the 11 or so hour ride. Morale was definitely not low, since the Giants are playing in the Super Bowl, after all. But, even though I resigned myself to watching the game in the city, which is supposedly football heaven at the moment, it still would have pained me to know I was about 3 blocks from the venue where the Super Bowl is being played with my favorite team in it.

I never thought I would be so happy to pay $900 for a single game. But with the ticket market what it is, I consider myself way ahead on the game at this point. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a sports fan.

The planning of this trip for two weeks has distracted me from the actual Super Bowl game, but I have now been overcome with Super Bowl fever.

I plan on blogging about the experience all weekend with pictures, video, and a glimpse into what the Super Bowl weekend is all about.

Please leave your comments and questions, and I will be glad to respond.

I came out to Indy with a very loose game plan besides just knowing I would be out here for the atmosphere. A primary goal (though I thought it was a long-shot) was locating a reasonably (by Super Bowl standards) priced ticket. I’ve been fortunate enough to secure that on the way out.

Now, I hope I can return to New Jersey on Monday having just witnessed a Giants Super Bowl win in person.

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