After barely surviving these past few months of what has to be one of the harshest winters in the history of New York City, I was glad to be leaving for the warm climate of Texas. I was lucky enough to score tickets to the game thanks to an invite from a friend, and flew down to Dallas over the weekend to take part in the Super Bowl experience.
Instead, I left the below freezing, snow covered streets of New York for the somehow colder, snow covered streets in Dallas. How is this possible? Then I remembered, Mother Nature is pissed off, and is unleashing her fury on a large portion of the country this winter. This included the normally hot and sunny Dallas, which clearly did not know what to do when the “white powdery stuff that makes my cattle shiver” (say it with a Texas accent, it’s funnier that way) started to fall from the sky.
So instead of salting the streets like anyone in the rest of the country would have done, they sanded the streets. Yup, sand. There was so much sand that I began to wonder if Texans treated sand as the cure-all remedy that many treat Robitussin as.
Let’s break this down into a logical sequence. Sand does not melt snow, or ice. At least not effectively enough to melt the four to six inches Dallas got. You know what does melt the snow? The sun. The sun doesn’t melt sand though. So what happens when the sun comes out and the temperature goes up the next day? The snow melts, the sand doesn’t. Now, the streets are covered in soggy, muddy sand. Which clogs the sewers. Which leads to flooding. Which was exactly the case on many streets Saturday night.
Besides the initial problems, the weather warmed up for the big game, and I embarked on my trip to the stadium absolutely ecstatic. When I got my first glimpse of the state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium I was blown away. It looks like a spaceship that had crash landed on Earth. I couldn’t wait to get inside. Unfortunately I had to, for over two hours, due to the fact that there was only one line to get in for the majority of people. It seemed like the staff at the stadium forgot that their building can hold up to 110,000 people, and were stunned when around that number of fans showed up expecting to get in.
For security purposes, eight metal detectors were set up for patrons to go through. I know what you’re thinking: isn’t funneling tens of thousands of people through a tiny entrance without providing security to prevent fights and/or line jumping and/or people being trampled a horrible, horrible idea? Yes. It is. And that’s why it took me two hours to finally get inside the stadium. I’m sure the thousands of people who were still in line behind me had another hour or two to wait, which meant a large number of them probably missed or barely made the 530pm kickoff, considering I only got inside at 4pm.
Once inside though, I quickly forgot about the previous fiasco, and was left speechless by the field in front of me. The stadium was humungous. Seats filled the building all the way to the dome. The concessions, bathrooms, walking areas were all in pristine condition. The food was even pretty good.
From my seats, 30 yard line 2nd level up, I had an amazing view of the incredible field. Above loomed the gigantic jumbotron, which had a crystal clear screen that portrayed what was happening on the field down to every minute detail. My eyes were often drawn from the actual play to watch the game on the screen. The thing is colossal. Breathtaking. It is so stunning that the synonym function of Microsoft Word isn’t even going to be capable of doing this thing justice. For all we know, Jerry Jones might be in the process of getting this thing named the 8th wonder of the world.
The fans were buzzing with excitement as the game grew closer. As a football fan my entire life, I could not believe I was about to watch the Super Bowl live. The whole experience was mind blowing. Hilary Swank was sitting three rows below me. I had dined two tables away from Kurt Warner the night before. I had a conversation with sportswriter Mike Lupica in my hotel. Someone asked me if I was Peyton Manning. (I’ve been told I look somewhat like him.)
The Super Bowl was about to begin. A countdown to kickoff had just come on the jumbotron. Christian Aguilera had just butchered the National Anthem. We were ready to go. Aaron Rodgers outshined all others in the highlight performance of his blossoming career as he led the Packers to victory.
More importantly, Aaron Rodgers outshined accused-rapist Ben Roethlisberger, whom I despised long before he beat my beloved Jets in the AFC Championship. I’m not going to claim to be unbiased here, I hate that man. I screamed an expletive laden cheer when he threw his first interception, and followed that up with another spirited curse aimed at Big Ben after his second pick. Still, I got to hand it to him, the guy can play.
He’s the hardest guy to sack in the NFL, mostly because he’s the persistent type who doesn’t take no for an answer. Apparently, that persistent, don’t take no for an answer attitude stays with him both on the field and off the field. And by off the field, I mean college bars.
I was looking forward to seeing the Steelers heralded defense in person, and I found myself unable to look away from safety Troy Polamalu whenever he was on the field. Even though he didn’t play a pivotal role in Sundays game, he still demands constant attention because there’s always the possibility that he’ll do something great. I kept waiting for him to lay somebody out, which he did to Greg Jennings, albeit after he had caught the touchdown pass.
Aaron Rodgers did what few were able to do all season, namely tear up the Steelers' top-ranked defense. He put on a spectacular performance, which some are arguing might qualify as the greatest Super Bowl performance by a QB of all time. I’m sorry, but nothing is topping Steve Young’s six touchdown game.
What his outstanding play did do, though, was place him in the discussion for best quarterback in the league. The top tier of QBs might still be Brees, Manning, and Brady, but Rodgers is knocking on that door very hard. His mix of arm strength and accuracy should have him at the top of his position for years to come. Watching him throw the ball with that tight spiral of his on Sunday had me wondering how good this kid can be in the future. In all honesty, barring any major injury or unforeseen loss of skill, Aaron Rodgers should have himself in MVP contention and the Packers in Super Bowl contention for years to come.
The game went to halftime with the Packers holding a convincing lead and looking poised to turn the game into a blowout. While the coaches gave their halftime speeches, the Black Eyed Peas tried to give everyone epilepsy. They had Fergie grind all over a comatose Slash, and Usher come out and dance for a little bit.. Also, somewhere between their first album and where they are now, the Black Eyed Peas seem to have lost touch with reality and think they are robots.
Back to the game, which began to get even more exciting as the Steelers came out firing in the 2nd half. They narrowed the lead to 21-17 behind a strong run game before fumbling away their momentum when Clay Matthews (somehow scarier in person than he is on television) forced a Rashard Mendenhall fumble. The Packers turned that turnover, one of three on the day for the Steelers, into a touchdown, and went into the two minute warning with a 31-25 lead after a Hines Ward touchdown for Pittsburgh.
I was glad to see Ward get into the endzone, seeing as how he’s one of the most popular players in the league and stays out of trouble off the field. Also, he knocks the living crap out of defenders when he blocks people.
Even with a mediocre performance to this point, I was still scared to see Big Ben under center down six with two minutes to go. He is one of the best clutch quarterbacks in the league, and his ability to move around and create time makes him an even bigger threat. I had visions of his touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the corner of the endzone to beat Arizona in my head as he began the drive.
But, surprisingly, he didn’t put up too much of a fight, and the game ended with Aaron Rodgers kneeling twice to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to titletown. Maybe this was karma’s way of punishing Roethlisberger, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Green Bay Packers had just won the Super Bowl.
My Super Bowl experience had ended with an exciting finish and a Green Bay victory. We stuck around to watch Aaron Rodgers accept his MVP award and do his signature championship belt celebration. And if things continue the way they have been, I have a feeling that Aaron Rodgers will be the Heavyweight Champion of the NFL for many years to come.