(The view from Hoboken.)
Suffice to say, New York City is expensive at the best of times. Sticking the Super Bowl in the nearby Jersey swamp means 14-dollar beers and 16-dollar cheesesteaks…but hey, at least the former comes with a souvenir sippy-cup? OK, so Super Bowl Weekend was an overblown, overcrowded disaster, but the end result was all that matters. Can you say 43-8?
Where to begin? How about Super Bowl Boulevard, the blocked artery on Broadway where movements were as frequent as a constipated granny. Bad visual? Well, you shouldda seen the place! People were completely crammed, especially at the NFL Shop at Macy’s, where everything was 50 per cent off…on Monday after the game. Yeah, I was there Saturday. And in a sure sign that the Seahawks were gonna win, they put up this display of Russell Wilson–not Peyton Manning–in store:
Speaking of Russell, there he is in Times Square…or not.
One of the major attractions on Super Bowl Blvd was the giant toboggan, which dropped down faster than Peyton Manning’s QB rating:
There was apparently a three-hour wait to get your picture taken with the Lombardi Trophy. Most people just took a photo from outside–although I did get a clearer shot of it the following evening.
There was supposed to be a Seahawks rally in Times Square at 7 pm, although where in Times Square wasn’t specified. To me, though, that meant the big red steps at W 47th and Broadway. Turns out that FOX Sports had already set up shop…
And there wasn’t much of a rally. I got to see some Seahawks (and Broncos) cheerleaders, and watch Donovan McNabb throw a few footballs into the crowd. Oh, and there was also a drumline:
I spent Saturday evening at the Legion of Boom Fan Cave, which was basically the covered terrace of the Copacabana Club with a few 12th man banners on the walls. That, and eight-dollar Heinekens. But to their credit, the evening’s designated rappers had a pretty catchy number about “Hawks on top, Broncos on the bottom” that turned out to be quite an accurate prediction. Man, this place had everything: Chips and salsa, white girls twerking, two different versions of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”… (I left during the techno remix.)
Saw a late-night pizza spot somewhere around W 48th that advertised two slices and a drink for four bucks. What they don’t tell you is that offer only applies to cheese-pizza (aka plain) slices. Also got to see the wonderful New York customer service on display. “Yous betta have exact change, cuz we ain’t got no stinkin’ coins!”
I should mention that I stayed in Long Island City, which isn’t in Long Island, but rather the borough of Queens. That neighbourhood is worthy of a full post in itself, so stay tuned for that. I woke up relatively early on Sunday, and being that there’s nothing to do in LIC, I ended up taking the PATH train over to Hoboken, where fishing is apparently pretty popular:
Hey, we are on the Jersey Shore…
Anyways, the bar I ended up at was almost directly across from the train station, was named after two southwestern states and packed a playlist full of classic rock, oldies and AC/DC. Hey, I’ll take it over Robin Thicke and Jay Z. (Turns out “Empire State of Mind” is pretty popular around these parts. And they play a lot more Bon Jovi than Springsteen!) That said, the girls working there all seemed like the type who spend their Friday nights at Karma. Let’s just say yoga pants, spray tans and cleavage were also on the menu next to the nachos and fajitas…not that I’m complaining.
The bar’s proximity to the train station allowed me to hop aboard the 2:20 to Secaucus, from where I had to take another train to the Meadowlands. Even though the game didn’t start for another four hours, Secaucus station was already pretty sweaty:
Fortunately, all the people pictured made it onto the next train, myself included, on which we witnessed MetLife Stadium rise up out of the swamp…
A few thoughts about the stadium itself. Did I mention they had 14-dollar beers (16 for imported) and 16-dollar cheesesteaks? Hell, I even switched to Miller Light to save a couple bucks–that stuff only went for 12. Alas, the concession stands seemed to be as unprepared as NJ Transit. The deli counter ran out of pastrami well before kickoff (I presume they killed another cow by halftime?) and the aforementioned cheesesteak stand had an equipment malfunction, namely the processed cheese machine. Cuz without that stuff, it’s just steak. Luckily, they got it up and running after oh, about a half-hour wait in line…
I eventually made it to my seat right around the time my phone died. But this game being sponsored by Verizon, they actually had set up a rather elaborate charging station, complete with finger-scan technology. Only downside was that it’s halfway across the concourse, so I missed Queen Latifah singing “America the Beautiful.” No biggie.
This is the view from Section 101. If it looks like there were more Broncos fans than Seattle supporters here, you’re probably right. It definitely seemed louder when Denver was on defense, at least for the first couple quarters. The orange-clad noise sure died down after that, though. To their credit, while there were thousands of tickets for resale in the two weeks leading up to the game, every seat in the place was full, and just about everybody was wearing either a Denver or a Seattle jersey. I did see a couple broads–and even one dude–in expensive fur coats though, haha.
I also had the added perk of being right near the Seattle tunnel, which gave me a pretty decent vantage point when the Hawks ran out onto the field:
They even brought the 12th man flag out…
…oh, and this flag, too:
And if you thought Renee Fleming singing the national anthem was impressive, you shouldda seen the chick signing the anthem:
Broadway Joe (in fur coat) actually botched the coin toss the first time around. But apparently, the tuck rule was in play, so it’s all good:
Aaaaand with that, we’re underway!
Didn’t pull out my camera in time for the opening safety, which happened in the end zone right in front of me. Pretty sure this was on the ensuing possession, though:
Unfortunately, this drive came up a little short.
They honoured the 2014 class of Hall of Famers during a timeout. That’s ex-Hawks tackle Walter Jones in the middle:
That said, I much preferred this form of commercial-break entertainment:
Now, I’d hate to be the guy who paid five-grand for seats on the 50-yard line only to have Bruno Mars’ band’s backs to him at half time. They set up the stage right along the sideline, which meant that I had a pretty decent vantage point, although I had to zoom in to the max to get a few half-decent pictures. Hell, I didn’t even realize this was Bruno on drums for the intro:
Of course, the TV camera got in the way of a couple of these:
(I dunno guy, but I don’t think Flea’s bass is plugged in to anything…)
I went on a beer/bathroom run during Bruno’s last song, so I missed the big fireworks at the end. But, more tragically, I also missed the bigger fireworks at the start of the second half. See, there’s some New Jersey state law that says the only valid form of ID is a US ID. (God bless America and no place else!) But it turns out, three of the four times I went to buy beer, they didn’t even ID me. Unfortunately, I got the one senior staffer who took the “anyone that looks under 40″ rule a little too seriously when I made it to the front of the line a couple minutes before the second-half kickoff. And when I showed her my Ontario license, I learned of this silly law.
Now, I wasn’t about to go back to my seat empty-handed, so I went over to the next beer line instead. I had finally made it to the front when Percy Harvin took the second-half kickoff 87 yards back for a TD to the end zone near where I was sitting. Yeah, I saw it on a video screen on the concourse… But I did get this picture of the receiving corps celebrating Jermaine Kearse’s TD later in the quarter:
How do I know that it’s garbage time? Robert Turbin’s getting the carry off the left-hand side…
Of course, I already posted my post-game celebration photos last night. As Broncos fans rushed to the exits, I made my way down the aisle until I ended up in the third row, behind two rows of professional photographers. I’m sure there were plenty of pictures of me, taken both by fans and professionals, although I haven’t seen any of them. Hey, maybe if I tell you what I look like…
In any case, there was such a stampede of Broncos fans that the stadium ran an announcement on the video board telling anyone who was taking the train to stay in the stadium due to congestion at the track. That was fine by me–I stuck around until there was nothing left to see except security and confetti on the field. But even then, there was a massive swarm of folks gathered outside when I finally left. Put it this way: I walked out of there around 11, and didn’t get back to my hotel until 1:45 am. And I swear, I didn’t even stop at a bar, or parade naked down Times Square in nothing but my Seahawks gloves and a Super Bowl lanyard… I’m pretty sure that picture would’ve made it in the paper!
Speaking of newspapers, though, I picked up a couple the next day for souvenirs (and also to read about people bitching about transit as I spent six hours in Newark Airport on Monday). The New York Post had a pun on Peyton’s name, while USA Today appeared to imply the Hawks talked a lotta smack…
But the best cover had to go to Newark’s The Star-Ledger, which ran this double-sided pullout of the TD return I watched from the concourse:
(This one’s going on my wall…as soon as I find a frame for it!)
Final thoughts? Best sporting experience of my life, by a country mile. Most expensive, too–but worth every penny! That said, I don’t know what I’ll do if the Hawks make it back to the Big Game in Arizona next year… Anybody got a rental property in Phoenix with a private jet to spare?