Super Bowl XLV 1 of 2
Monday 07th February 2011
Super Bowl morning. Who the heck would have ever thought that I’d be getting up, in the United States one day, with a ticket in my hand getting ready to attend the Super Bowl? Not just that, but one with my team, the Green Bay Packers not only playing but the favourites to win. And coming off 2 ‘win and you’re in’ home wins and 3 road playoff wins we actually had a great shot at taking the title, despite the injuries we’d sustained.
What was even more amazing was that I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that had we have made the big dance in 2007 I’d have been watching it from the Lambeau Atrium not Arizona. Here I was today though preparing my Packers gear for what could easily be one of the most memorable days of my life. When you consider that 2 weeks ago I was lying in bed with a cup of tea watching the NFC Championship game on a Monday morning,my being here all of a sudden was even more surreal. It took almost a week to figure out my plans to come to Dallas, if any and what do you know, here I was.
It goes without saying but I’d been looking forward to this day ever since I booked my flights.
So, overnight the Brunners, with whom I road-tripped to Kansas City arrived in the Big D and with my ticket to the game and their tickets to the Plaza Party we were ready to go. First stop was The Waffle House for breakfast. Seriously??? I don’t wish to offend anyone so let’s just say it was an interesting breakfast that I had laid out in front of me. Insert cheeky smile here. I’m usually a corn flakes or apple in the car sort of guy so this was, um, different. What I can say though is the good ol’ fashioned Southern styled customer service we received from Brandi was second to none. She was super friendly and called every one of us sweetie, sweetheart, sugar or darlin’ every single time we spoke.
A little worried about the traffic and parking situation we were off to the stadium before noon and I must say I was surprised that we didn’t encounter any traffic along the way. This was contrary to my experience almost every other day in Dallas/FW and because of that I just assumed game day, by the stadium of all places would be horrible. It wasn’t so we were very lucky.
The moment we stepped out of the car we hit by our first street vendor which I can’t say was unexpected. We simply ‘had to have’ a ticket holder for our ticket. Just $20 for a lanyard with a plastic sleeve at the bottom of it. It was the ‘official’ ticket holder he told us and that’s why it was worth $20! I left the car park and after taking one left turn our second street vendor hit us. The same ticket holder for $10 so I took it. A $10 saving in the space of 10 minutes? Today was going to be a good day!
The atmosphere heading toward the stadium was awesome. Not too crazy, not at all mellow. Just a perfect mix of sports fans coming together to enjoy their once in a lifetime experience too. No matter whom they were or whether they supported one of the teams or not I found every one super friendly and super excited to be there. The fellow who owned this Steelers car was pumped by everyone telling him how great it was. And let me tell you, there was more than one Packer fan giving him the kudos he deserved.
As for the actual stadium precinct, it doesn’t need to be said, it’s just plain obvious how spectacular it is. I could go on about it but really, it is ‘Jerry’s World’ and we know whatever he spends his money on is going to be magnificent. That said, the organisation around the stadium was terrible. There wasn’t a single person to assist, like a guide or something, and that made it so tough to figure out where we needed to be. I say ‘we’ because there wasn’t a single person who knew. There were ‘you are here’ maps, though the whole stadium and its surrounds were the ‘you are here’ part. What I mean is there wasn’t a little ‘dot’ that told your actual whereabouts in the stadium precinct. Just a really big map with a really big blue square around it saying you are here!
In addition to that, the actual gates weren’t visible as the crowd control measures they had taken were blocking them. That is, the fences and areas where all spectators could be screened were placed in front of the gates and marked by check point codes such as T1 and S1. Firstly this was a great idea, it made the potential problem of security screening disappear as there was plenty of room to check every single person and secondly, anything that helps me safe in a public place like this is fine by me.
That being said, we had no idea where our gates were because, in my instance, gates G,H and J were hidden behind security checkpoint on the other side of the stadium. One sign would have been nice. I can honestly say though, in defence of whomever was in charge of putting this together, the inconvenience for me at least was no big deal. There people there though losing their minds that they couldn’t easily figure out where they were or where they needed to go.
Not long after that the Brunner’s and I parted ways. We were keen to find a bar but there wasn’t one, that’s right not even one, and, if you take a look at the Kansas City post that I have attached at the bottom for your reference, you’ll see that for them this was a problem. So as they shot off to find one, I found my way into the enclosed areas of the stadium for security screening and entry into the forecourt.
And what a forecourt it was. Just as American and just as grandiose as I would have expected on Super Bowl day. There were competitions galore, men on stilts, live bands, GMC trucks and the chance to have your picture taken with your favourite ESPN sports caster. When I was there I got to choose between Mark Schlereth and Mike Torico. Which was funny ‘cause it wasn’t until I was up on stage with Mark that I saw Mike was over the other side. Turns out Mark played in the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers exhibition game at Sydney Olympic Park in 1999 to help open the stadium before the Olympics in 2000. I was at that game, it was my first actual and only ‘live’ game until 2007 at Lambeau.
From there I did what most fans did. Walked around and soaked up the atmosphere. I’d say I spent the 3 hours or so just cruising around. The one constant thing being the little thought in my head that said ‘you’re at the Super Bowl; you’re at the Super Bowl’. Once I’d had my photo taken with the Lombardi trophy, in front of Dallas’ number one High School Dance Group, pretending to be a Packer player and in front of the stadium just one more time I was ready to find my seat.
And for a stadium the size of this one, it was alot easier than I expected. Along the way I was sure to pick myself up a hot dog and a souvenir cup. Anyone who’s been to a game with me knows I love my souvenir cups and even though the price was a little steep ($16 for 2 items, and the cup had Pepsi in it) I was happy to have it.
Along the way, I met up with an old friend from Australia which I couldn’t believe. He is the Chairman of Gridiron Australia and he was with the President of the International Federation of American Football. I haven’t mentioned this before but I played tailback for our All State NSW team and was picked in the first ever Australian u19’s men’s’ team to tour New Zealand and play against them. Of course, there was no funding available to us for low participatory sport and the individual cost of the tour to each player and his family rendered the trip cancelled. I still have my certificate of National Selection though and my game MVP medallion where we defeated South Australia by some 50 odd points on our way to the National Championship.
So that that little story isn’t all as wonderful as it sounds I can tell you I almost had my head torn off in the Championship game and I dislocated my shoulder aswell. I decided to stop playing after that ‘cause really, by comparison to your 19 year old players I wasn’t that good and getting injured as I often as I was made going to work on Monday really tough.
Either way Mike (on the left) was our coach and it was great to see him out of the blue like that and reminisce a little.
I soon made it to my seat, introduced myself to those around me, ‘cause, that’s what I do and got ready for the game to begin. I met another Australian family too, from about 2 hours north of where I’m from and they were only 5 or so rows in front me. That was totally unexpected and brought the total number of Australians that I knew of at least to 5!
I sat down and stared at the field, then up to the big screen and then down to the field again. I’m sure there were players on it, even if they were hard to make out. And it’s funny ‘cause at that point I wondered, if perhaps, this stadium could in fact be too big. I mean it’s a beautiful piece of architecture and mind-blowing in every way. And let’s face it, this was the Super Bowl, it doesn’t really matter where you sit. That being said though, I couldn’t imagine paying to sit where I was, as far away from the action as I was for a regular season game that may not have any serious consequences to it. Again I couldn’t have cared less, but in week 14 when the Cowboys are playing Carolina and both teams are at 5-8 or 6-7 with no playoff hopes. I wonder if these seats would sell.
Finally we’re onto the anthem. The girl next to me was real mad at Christina Aguilera I’ve gotta say and to be honest, I was trying to figure out why she sang the anthem like a pop star the way that she did. If you ask me anthems are better sung the way they’re meant to be sung but she was going all, well, Christina Aguilera on it. It’s no wonder she screwed up the words along the way. And I don’t blame everybody for being as upset as they were. It’s the national song for goodness sake; you’ve got to get it right!
Tue 15th Feb 11
Hey Wayne, Belinda, Andrew & Tegan from the photo above, we must try and get together for a Äussie super bowl wrap up”
Fri 25th Feb 11
This would have been a dream come true for me. You will never forget this as long as you live. The type of season they had and how everything just fit together at the end. The journey I’m sure was amazing on its own, but I’m sure the feeling you had after the fourth down was indescribable. Thanks for sharing everything!