Late last week I learned that I was one of 32 finalists to compete for the first annual position of the NFL Director of Fandemonium.
Days later, I would be on my way to New York City (all the way from north Jersey) to experience something that I may never have the opportunity to do again.
As I mentioned in my first article regarding the contest all of the finalists had already won season tickets to the team of their choice along with a custom jersey with the same criteria.
The lucky winner of the competition will get a signing bonus of $100,000, as well as key roles in the NFL Draft, International Series, Thanksgiving game, Wild card game, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl, as well as other NFL events.
Thursday marked the first day of the competition, with all the contestants and myself arriving at the Marriott Eastside from all over the US, including a Vikings fan from Hawaii.
After check-in we had a brief moment to get settled into our rooms where a few gifts awaited us such as a respective conference fandemonium jersey and a official NFL football signed by the single-season record holder for sacks, ex-New York Giants DE Michael Strahan.
Up next was an unofficial meet and greet followed by our first on-camera interview and pictures with NFL Films.
Later that evening, a reception was held where we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and the team we represented as well as meet the people behind the competition.
A short but semi-hectic day was over as some contestants ventured out into the big city while others opted to catch up on their sleep.
Friday was by far the busiest day of the competition with all the participants being paired up into teams with their respective divisions and their conference counterpart. (i.e., NFC and AFC East)
My team faced off against the NFC/AFC West in the trivia challenge, hosted by none other than Michael Strahan, with the winning team destined for the next and final round.
The questions varied from most appearances on Thanksgiving to which conference holds the record for points in a Pro Bowl.
Of course there were also questions concerning Strahan's career, which even he himself found too easy.
Somehow the other team caught up and were forced to answer a question created by our team in order to force a tie.
Given the situation and the handsome host our team came up with "How many sacks did Strahan have in his career?"
Their answer was 141 which we too thought was the correct response, however Strahan told them they were wrong only to revoke his statement and turn to the judges/directors. The actual answer was 141.5, giving our team the win and a place in the second round.
In that round we faced off against the NFC/AFC North in the physical challenge which included a coin toss and through the gap toss inspired by none other than the gap between Strahan's teeth.
The coin toss consisted of simply making your coin land on the point board with the condition of flipping it over your shoulder. My flip was too high as it bounced of the microphone stick causing Mr. Strahan to call an interference penalty and award me a re-flip.
Our team grabbed a 9-8 lead heading into the second challenge. Since they were behind, the North were awarded the opportunity to go first in the the through the gap toss.
In this challenge each contestant was allowed five throws with each made ball counting for three points. The north would only get three balls in for a total of 20 points overall.
Our team made one ball with only three people remaining. Enter Brett Miledin, with my first three throws being way off the mark and Strahan looking to the last contestant representing the Dolphins as the savior.
I managed to get one ball in to pull within one to clinch. Even Strahan tried to ice me but to no avail, as I would sink the last throw for the win and have him and my teammate Mark jump on my back in celebration.
Afterwards I dedicated the win to Strahan for which he thanked me for and proceeded to cry into my shoulder in happiness. Up next was the locker-room challenge with Rob Riggle of SNL and Daily Show fame.
Riggle asked me questions about being Russian and my ties to NFL Europe as well as singing Iron Maiden thanks to my Trooper shoes.
He would proceed to have a fake heart attack after learning I had little time for tailgating since I never seem to have a parking pass.
Lastly we had our motivational speech challenge in front of both Riggle and Strahan where we were asked to preform either a pep-talk or celebration dance.
For whatever reason, I was chosen to dance but having a background in ballroom dancing I managed to pull off a samba meets rumba meets the Harlem shake to much of the enjoyment of the judges, Strahan in particular.
That evening, just like the previous one, ended with a reception dinner where we learned our scheduled time to meet with the NFL and Monster.com brass on Saturday.
Since many of us had later times I acted as an ambassador of NYC and showed the two handfuls of out-of-towners the sites and sounds most tourists come to see in Manhattan.
On Saturday I had the pleasure of going with the last group to the NFL headquarters and getting everyone's take on the sit-down prior to my own. While their we waited in the Lombardi room and I happened to catch a glimpse of the heralded trophy later on.
I was then mic'd up just like the previous day and entered the board room. While inside I was interviewed by Rich Eisen of the NFL Network, John Buzzeo and Mike Pereira of the NFL, and Jeff Greenler VP of Global Marketing for Monster.
The questions varied from officiating, to the draft, as well as general interview questions. Afterwards, I was driven back home with only the memories to last me a lifetime.
I would like to extend the biggest possible thank you to everyone associated with the event especially those who worked ever so diligently in arranging the little things to help us through.
MEC Acess, BBDO, Ketchum, the NFL, NFL Films, Monster.com, Avalon, and Marriott East side, a huge thank you for everything.
Good luck to all the contestants as well.