I got a text from John back in August saying we won the chance to buy Super Bowl tickets at face value through the NFL lottery. He spends hours at the kitchen table addressing envelops, entering different contests and getting mail-in deals, so I thought nothing of him telling me about some small chance we might win a contest where we could pay a small fortune to see two then undecided teams play in the Super Bowl.
When he texted me in August I wasn’t even sure if we would go, face value is still $500 and that doesn’t include airfare, hotels or vacation time. Or loss of sanity from flying across the country with a baby.
In true Sweet form, it took us 2 days and 5 flights to get from Charleston to San Francisco–a route with the intention of making the trip less expensive–we rented an AirBnB near Fisherman’s Warf so John’s mom, who we also flew in, could babysit, and we planned a post-Super Bowl week on the west coast (best coast) to make it worth our money.
The Super Bowl has always been about two things: the food and the commercials. I love football, but it’s hard to get that excited about teams that aren’t yours, especially if you’re coming off another season so embarrassing they fired their coach.
Being at the game is a completely different experience. It was surreal, honestly unbelievable, that the game we were at was THE SUPER BOWL, and not just another Corn Huskers game. It wasn’t until they brought out the MVP from each Super Bowl–including Eli Manning–that we really realized how cool it is to be part of history. Super Bowl 50. Part of a crowd of true grit football fanatics. These are the most passionate fans, the ones that travel on a whim because their team won their division two weeks earlier, the fans that pay thousands of dollars for mile high seats and bad food just to be part of the biggest day of their team’s life.
Here are some of the highlights of game day:
We had to root for the Broncos because it could potentially be Peyton Manning’s (who is Eli’s brother in case anyone doesn’t know him) last game, so we got dressed up in our ugly Bronco’s gear and headed to the stadium at 10 am. For a 3:30 pm game.
We took fan buses from Fisherman’s Warf to the 49ers stadium. The AC was broken and they made a huge deal about reimbursing us. No AC plus Ugly Christmas Sweater did not make a pleasant ride.
The amount of people that also showed up three hours before kickoff was incredible. They had 13$ beer tents, carnival games, and our favorite, a postcard booth where you could send out reminders in case people didn’t know you went to the Super Bowl.
We had over three hours and nothing to do but wait, so we wandered around, got a lot of comments in our ugly sweaters, heckled a Panther fan or two and made our way up about 26.2 miles of ramp to the very top. The very top.
I really don’t like heights. This was bad enough that I actually think seatbelts, or parachutes, should have been required.
Still with over an hour left until kick off (I swear time was moving in reverse), and the sun only getting hotter, we went on the hunt for ‘gold flaked’ hot dogs that a security guard had told John about when he asked if there was better food. The stadium is usually known for their gourmet food stands, but they scaled way back for the game and focused mainly on hot dogs and burgers. It seems like it should have been the other way around. The Super Bowl is THE biggest event of the year, but I guess the higher the ticket price the lower quality the food.
Back in our seats at 30 thousand feet, it was amazing how many Broncos fans were there, considering how good people thought the Panthers were this year. They (we?) were deafening. The Carolina fans kind of disappeared into the crowd.
The opening ceremony was pretty impressive. I thought Lady Gaga’s understated performance of the national anthem was incredible. And seeing the MVP’s from all of the previous Super Bowls take the field, legends like Roger Staubach sharing the stage with Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning, was a once in a lifetime experience. (Although they panned to Peyton Manning in the locker room when they announced him and I’m not sure he knew he was being filmed).
If you’re reading this you probably watched the game so I’ll spare you a play by play. And you know that it was an underwhelming performance from both teams.
About halfway through the second quarter they made an announcement that the audience would be participating in the halftime show. They had put giant cards on every seat, and we were instructed on how to use them.
It was really cool seeing it come together, but the halftime show from where we were was nothing short of terrible. I don’t like Coldplay and I’m not a huge Beyoncé fan (I do love Bruno Mars) but it would have been exciting to see them perform live. We couldn’t see or hear anything from where we were and the video was cutting in and out on the big screen like a remix. The whole set up was odd, the crowds by the stage you see on TV are choreographed, and I wasn’t feeling the 70’s flower power vibe. I was a little bummed, especially after how amazing Katy Perry’s performance was last year. #leftshark
It wasn’t until the last quarter that the game got a little more exciting. I was as surprised as anyone that the Bronco’s pulled it off–easily. It was crazy when they would convert, Denver fans are so energetic, the whole stadium was shaking with excitement.
Despite the food options (I just can’t stop associating the Super Bowl with food) it was amazing to be part of such a huge day in football. John and I are on the same page when it comes to these opportunities–it may have been expensive, exhausting, and inconvenient to travel, our seats might not have been great, the game wasn’t as exciting as say, a Giant upset over the Patriots (twice), but someday we’ll be sitting in the nursing home telling our grandkids how we went to Super Bowl 50 and maybe saw the legend Peyton Manning’s last game in a win over the favored Carolina Panthers.
PS-this guy will be telling his grandkids how he watched the entire game at the game on his iPad.