Editor's Note: With so much to say, and so little time to say it, plus with the mission of "living the event" superseding "recording the event", this post is appearing later than the author intended it to...
After a night of drinking, and then sleeping in one of the most uncomfortable beds in the world...well, you might say that I felt like the floor of taxi cab when I woke up on Sunday. It took a few moments for the cobwebs to clear before the realization hit me...I was just hours away from seeing the game of my life...it's Super Bowl Sunday!!
I ran out to the car to grab a few things...and...what the hell, it's raining? Just a drizzle, but I thought this was "Sunny Miami"?? Ah well, it will clear up by game time...
Arriving back in the room...Krish was finally stirring...I got to inform him that he fell asleep with his laptop in his lap last night...just a funny sight...sitting up in bed, laptop on lap...snoring like a grizzly bear. There's a groggy excitement in the room...we're totally pumped about the day ahead, but our heads and body aren't quite over the day behind....but it's the freaking Super Bowl...so we push through the grogginess...showers always help in this situation. And we breakout the game day attire...a Payton jersey for me, and for Krish...a big orange Kyle Orton jersey. The word hideous comes to mind, but it proves to be a very useful thing throughout the day...as it makes him really easy to spot from miles away.
As we prepare for the game, our thoughts turn to transportation...should we drive? Or cab it? Is there a 3rd option? Driving sounds like a pain, and a cab sounds expensive, and time consuming...we explore a 3rd option...and don't come up with a good one. But really it ends up that we are way over thinking the situation...
Tom and Jon show up at the room and say, "Jon's driving, let's go." And like that problem solve. Sometimes the best plan, is to just stop thinking and do. We all pile in Tom and Jon's rental car...and get our first introduction to the GPS Chick...the sultry voice that will guide us with such phrases as "re-calculating route" and "Turn right in 1.5 miles"...Tom has the hots for her.
It's a weird guy phenomenon, but after a night out, there's always that debrief the next day...it often happens in a car on the way to the next adventure...you find out all the crazy things that happened the night before...I can remember many such a time in college...the debrief starts as we're heading to the stadium...
Tom, on the advice of Richard, the bartender at the hole in the wall bar at the hotel, headed out to Porky's...a local strip club. In Richard's words, "Porky's is great, lot's of hot girls". Tom prepares for a wild night of strip club excellence...instead is horrified to find that the club is filled with over weight and flat out UGLY women. But through the darkness there is a ray of hope...this club is equipped with a midget stripper. For some background, Tom's fantasy team has been called the "Midget Love Dolls" for the last few years...complete with picture. And now, he sits in the presence of his one true desire in life...the thought of fulfilling his fantasy goes through is mind...until he realizes that she's just as nasty as all the other girls...only smaller. He quickly leaves the premises and heads to a club called PussyCats...where the women are of normal strip club quality. But being so close to his dream, and falling short will eat at him for the rest of his life....at least that's the consensus in the car.
We arrive at the stadium and get directed to the cash parking...it's a school grounds right next to the stadium, where for $30 dollars we can park in a muddy field. It's a school that sits in the shadow of Dolphin stadium, and who's slogan is "Where uniforms are required!" That's inspiring. Not "Children are the future" or "Making tomorrow's leaders today" or something focus on the mission of learning...nope, "Uniforms are required", well sign my daughter up, sounds like a great place.
We never make the school, instead one of the locals offers up their front yard for $20. Perfect, we have our first moment of being glad we arrived early to the game. The walk to the Stadium isn't bad...although all along the way there are people with signs saying "Need tickets for the game"...many of them in Bears gear...I don't get the thought process of traveling to the Super Bowl without a ticket...and then standing outside the game hoping to score one...we got asked several times, "Do you guys have any extra tickets?" Let's see, tickets are going for $3k+ on the internet, but I just carried my extra ticket with me to the game for the hell of it. And there was 4 of us, the likely hound that we would have an extra is extremely small...all in all, this is just a stupid endeavor. But there were lots of people trying.
So it's 11am, the only thing that is open right now, is the NFL experience. For those that don't know, the NFL experience is a set of tents that give all the fans a chance to spend money on merchandise and souvenirs as well as try there hands at all kinds of NFL games...plus on gameday it's a place to get extremely overpriced food and drink. $10 for a beer...$6 for a brat...and $5 for a bottle of water...ah yes, the NFL, making all the money it can off the fans.
One of the things that gets revealed at the NFL experience...Tom can smell out a freebie from a mile away. He goes into action early, tracking down a girl handing out free bags. It turns out that he's a freebie collector...the amount of crap he must have at his house...
Krish and I wander around the NFL Experience doing our best to avoid spending any money...and then at 2pm...the NFL Tailgate party opened it's doors...and we walked into nirvana. Let me just say, if you ever have a chance to attend the NFL tailgate, do so. It's basically like going to an upscale county fair, where everything is free, and there aren't any animals. Tons of good food, live entertainment, and great people watching. Wandering around we see Rich Eisen and Cris Carter...and possibly an extremely depressed Rob Livingston...I have my doubts on the last one, but you never know.
A few random thoughts on the Tailgate party:
- I pulled a Tom with the free hats they were giving out...going back repeatedly and snagging more...hey, they're great souviners.
- The bathrooms started out as the coolest mobile bathrooms ever...the sign on the door said "the Platnium series Mobile Bathroom"...and they were great....until the water stopped working, and the lines got longer...then they became disgusting.
- Note to the NFL, come up with better acts than Chris Isaac and Stevie Nicks. Isaac was okay, but half the people didn't know who he was, and Nicks was boring.
After stuffing ourselves at the tailgate party...we head for the gates to the stadium...as is everyone else by now. Due to some really poor signage, and no real help from security...there's a huge crowd traffic jam of people trying to go somewhere they can't. Everyone could see the escalators, but you couldn't get to them in a direct route, so instead there was just this confused mass of people smashing against a barricade. Just terrible crowd management....and also proof that people are not smart in large groups.
We head for the seats, Krish peels off as he is nearly wetting his pants again. I race ahead wanting to see the seats we have...I find our section, and I'm greeted by an amazing view of the field...and when I sit down, I realize we're completely covered. I gaze out at all the poor bastards in the lower bowl, and smile as the rain falls. Yep, I'm a jerk.
Behind our section, is the Playboy Luxury box...and the Girls Next Door are in attendance. Needless to say this is a big distraction for all the guys in our section. I would say that half the guys in the section paid more attention to the girls than the game. At times this was distracting...but the things a man will do to stare a pair of **** is quite amazing.
Two things struck me about the pregame activities...
Watching the players on the field was fun, and everytime they showed any Bear on the screen a HUGE roar went up from the crowd. In fact, it seemed the large contingent of Bears fans just wanted to cheer and yell for anything. The same could be said for the Colts fans, it's just he numbers were so much smaller, that the roar wasn't as noticeable.
The pregame "entertainment" was boring as all hell. If you've seen cirque du soleil, you know that it can be interesting...but this was cirque du soleil minus any of the interesting stuff. Remove all the daring gymnastics, all the amazing feats, and reduce it down to some goofy costumes...and that's what you got. My main thought was, just get to the damn game.
And then the Kickoff clock struck zero...and the stadium filled with a buzz...and I leaned to Krish and said, "Hester is taking this all the way." And then the Super Bowl started...
After being sheltered all game, the full drenching effect of the rain wasn't clearly evident, until we started our exit from the stadium...although it had been hinted at by an earlier Text message from Tom. In response to Krish's question of "How's the rain up there?", Tom responded with "Soaked A**hole". But as we made our way down the circular ramps, there was a river of water running down them, and we realized just how much rain was coming down....that and all the other fans around us were just soaked to the bone.
We ran into several Colts fans on our way out, and I offered congratulations to most of them. They were all very nice, and said things like "hey, you guys played good" or "I was worried for awhile" and they all agreed the game was a lot of fun. There were several comments about how horrendous Grossman played...I wouldn't say I started all of those exchanges...but maybe a few...
We reached the gate, and were calling Tom and Jon, trying to get a hold of them and find out where they were. We ducked under some cover and waited for awhile to get a call. While waiting there, 2 extremely drunk Colts fans came up. We struck up a conversation that ranged from "Congrats, good game" to the drunker of the 2 saying all of the following...
"Indianapolis sucks, the Colts suck, our lives suck...man, this was a great win."
"I mean, Chicago is such a cool town, and Indy is a shithole, you have to give us this."
He then proceeded to congratulate and hug every single Colts fan that walked by. Culminating in a large black guy walking past, and Drunky for some reason assuming he was a Bears fan even though he was wearing a Colts hat. Drunky recovered after I shouted "He's wearing a Colts hat"...and then went into his hugging routine.
Finally, I knew it was time to leave Drunky and his friend, when Drunky turned to Krish and I and asked, "Do you guys have any drugs? I need some drugs". Yep, time to walk away.
As we walked away, Jon and Tom called...they were already at the car. With the rain still coming down in sheets, we were looking at a very wet walk...luckily, for some reason, someone had thrown away a perfectly good poncho...I slipped it on, and happily stayed dry...and trust me, there weren't many dry people out there...just amazing the amount of water that was coming down.
After a long, wet walk that included such highlights as a drunk Bears fan in a car screaming at a group of Colts fans "Next year you won't even make the playoffs"...to which a drunk Colts fan jumped in a puddle sending a HUGE splash of water into the car...a guy selling Bears Super Bowl Champs T-shirts for $5 and as he said, "You can wipe your arse with them"...but mostly, there was just a lot of wet people trying to get to somewhere dry...we finally reach the car.
As I stow my haul of souvenirs in the trunk, Jon plays the "it's already unlocked" game with Krish...a classic...after we finally get into the car, we discover that Jon isn't wearing any pants. That's right, the guy that is driving, has no pants on. Krish quickly asks, "You've got boxers on right?" With the important question out of the way, we turn to "why?" That's when we get a little sense of the "adventure" that was sitting in the upper deck....
Jon and Tom decided to leave at the 2 minute mark, as there was no hope for the Bears, and they were both completely drenched. Jon had to hit the head, but unfortunately for him, the line was longer that he thought it should be...so walking along in a downpour, completely drenched from head to toe...he decided that pissing his pants made the most sense. So he let it fly.
After hearing this, Krish looked down, seeing a pair of pants between the front seats, and screamed, "Those aren't the **** pants are they?!" He was assured they weren't, but we were never given a clear explanation of where the **** pants were....
Meanwhile, as you would expect, there are quite a few cars trying to get out of the same area as we are. We manage to make a few smart turns and get completely free and clear from the traffic...but then it all goes extremely wrong...the GPS chick gets confused in a few areas, and leads Jon astray...after several "Re-calculating Route" we end up....right back in the heart of stadium traffic. So now we're just stuck, no moving anywhere...everyone is cursing the GPS chick, except me, I think it's the fact that our driver has no pants.
Traffic isn't moving, and Krish has hit his limit, he falls asleep, and ends up resting on my shoulder...snoring like a grizzly...trying to ignore the sleeping giant on my shoulder...I look out the window at a cab that is advertising the "Nick Saban Show Thursdays at 6pm." Wow, they haven't changed their advertising yet. Finally, after what seems like an eternity...we arrive at the hotel. Krish flicks on ESPN for highlights, and then crashes.
After watching some of the highlights and post game coverage...and putting up my thoughts about the game, I finally turn in at about 2am...the Super Bowl is over...the Bears lost. I'm definitely bummed about the outcome, can't deny that...but the whole trip, the whole experience...just awesome. Would I do it all again, absolutely. But right now, I'm overcome with a hollow feeling in my stomach...to be so close...and then to watch my team just play terrible...just makes you feel like crap. But as I said before...at least I was there.
We checkout of the hotel and are on the road by 8:30am. We have a 3+ hour drive, and unbeknownst to me, about 8 hours of flying, as all the Chicago bound flights are delayed due to weather...so I get routed through Dulles...fun. As we start the drive, Krish shares the last Tom and Jon story...turns out there was a leak in the roof of their room...Jon slept in a soaking wet bed...but figured he was already soaked, so not big deal. We can do nothing but laugh long and hard at their expense.
After a trip, no matter how fun, productive or relaxing, it is always great to return home. Your own bed feels so right, and the comfort of familiar surroundings...it is a great feeling to return home. And I've got to rest up...the NFL draft is just around the corner....