Tuesday, February 03, 2009

HSS Reports: On the Scene at XLIII

SteelerBill used his HSS credentials to get behind-the-scenes access for Super Bowl XLIII. Okay, not really. He just bought a ticket and showed up in Tampa. Either way, good stuff:

Saturday - day of arrival:
  • I've never seen so many Steeler fans in my life - which made several people remark "they don't all have tickets do they?"
  • For the record, you cannot get in to the Super Bowl store without first paying for the NFL Experience;
  • We were number 3,000 in line (at least) at the NFL Experience on Saturday before deciding not to go in...think of it as Disney World minus the lines actually moving;
  • Funny comment from Steeler fan to Cardinal fan - "...what do you think? Pretty fun huh? This is our 7th time..."
  • Went to Channelside on Saturday night - went to some bar called the 'Hut'. They were completely overwhelmed even though it was not that crowded;
  • Overheard the owner telling a couple of locals that the Steeler fans were like 'cockroaches'...
  • Saw a lot of Eagle and Bucs fans, very few Cardinal fans
  • We went to the Black and Gold (Bay area) Tailgate party on game day at O'Briens ... saw Jim Wexell (nice sunglasses Jim), Louis Lipps, and the ESPN Radio 1250 crew - I tried to make my way over to Jim, but lost track of him;
  • Some random fan that was over-served kept yelling Lou...Lou...
  • Several black and gold cars in the parking lot - many of which drove down from Pittsburgh
    - SteelerDawn cannot believe the amount of black and gold I own, I have nothing on most people there - including a guy that wore a Construction hat with two Iron city bottled beers in the shape of the Lombardi trophy;
  • While the ESPN Radio crew waxed poetic - people were out in the parking lot tailgating for a tailgate - most playing the Steeler Polka and Here we Go;
  • Best jersey at the tailgate - Joe Gilliam;
  • En route to the Stadium from O'Briens we witnessed Steeler fans parked and tailgating outside of a 7-11, McDonalds and a Strip Club (I'm not kidding);
  • I should note that I wore my Tomlin "Yes We Can" t-shirt on Saturday and was stopped at least 15 times asking where I bought it - on game day the normally reserved Lawyer Phil wore the "SilverBack will f* you up" t-shirt and was well received (I went with Big Ben jersey);
  • Standing on the corner getting ready to go to the stadium a Cardinal fan opined "I can see us getting a fast start and putting up 42 today...." He was serious...
  • It took about 45 minutes to walk to the entrance to the stadium - the security was tight but moved pretty quickly;
  • Had the pleasure of standing in line next to a very over served 40-50 something year old Ravens fan. His comment "I know how it will go Ben will scramble blah blah blah, throw a TD pass..blah blah blah...I hate him..."
  • There are apparently standing room only seats available for Bucs games but for the Super Bowl bleachers were added.
More later...

As promised. SteelerBill sends this along:

Not to steal from Adam - but here are some thoughts from Section 313
  • Took us a little while to get to our seats - I heard a few Bucs Season Ticket holders commenting about how they had 'reconfigured the stadium' (never did get clarification on that);
  • On the way in we could hear President Obama speaking;
  • The atmosphere, as summed up by Lawyer Phil was like 'St. Patrick's Day meets Oktoberfest';
  • The crowd is overwhelmingly Steeler fans (except our section which housed about 50 Cardinal season ticket holders;
  • "Here we Go Steelers" chants started every couple of minutes and were very popular in the Men's room (can't speak for the Women's rest rooms);
  • Suddenly had a case of the pre-game nerves and no desire to eat;
  • The night before it was cool almost cold (relatively speaking) so I dressed for it - by the time we made it to our seats it was hot;
  • Wow! Was my first thought when we took our seats;
  • I must have said 'we are at the Super Bowl' at least five times;
  • Once in our seats both of us could be heard saying to no one in particular "there's Troy...there's Ben..." and then yelling for some reason "there's Silverback!"
  • America the Beautiful by Faith Hill followed by Jennifer Hudson's National Anthem invoked a few tears around us;
  • The Fly Over was amazing - I couldn't snap the picture fast enough - and the fireworks scared the hell out of most people (several folks jumped);
  • Oh and at half time we were instructed to shine our flash lights (Provided by the NFL) at the stage;
  • The Stadium announcer told us when we were going live to NBC - the Towels went nuts (did you see it?);
  • The Cards win the toss - the Cards fans around us lost their minds - the Cards deferred and we smiled quietly;
  • Prior to Ben's opening completion to Hines - the Steeler fans in our section screamed "Hines!! Hines is open!!" Followed by several jubilant expressions - I yelled "who needs a knee??"
  • Men/Sarah...they do not show many replays in the Stadium - thus we had no clue if Ben was in - cell phones were going nuts at that point to see what happened;
  • Oh by the way, the Cards were fighting with Hines from the start - several times hitting him after the play;
  • At one point during a commercial, Coach T was half way out on the field in the face of the refs (I'm pretty confident he was upset about the extra-curricular stuff);
  • The Stadium announcer was decidely in favor of the Cards - when they got a first down he screamed 'First Down Cardinals'....most people noticed and commented on it;
  • When Berger was run over - one Card fan pulled out his wallet and asked how much we paid the refs - I returned fire "act like you've been there before - he ran over the holder...."
  • Umm guy's...when Silverback picked that thing off I could not hear myself think - and kept looking at the clock to see if we would be out of time to score if he were to get tackled;
  • I have not watched the game on TV yet, but Tomlin ran out on the field to hug Silverback;
  • After that Lawyer Phil was loving his shirt;
  • Everyone in the stadium was in a good mood - I've never seen such a friendly football crowd;
  • The crowd was buzzing up 20-7 but still nervous about a possible come back - the Cards fans were down;
  • During every break they played Best Plays and Highlights from the year - each time a Raven was shown (Ed Reed, Ray Ray, Joe Flacco) the crowd booed;
  • Once the Cards took the lead the Cards fans were nuts (rightfully so) - and then began chanting 'Here we go Cardinals....' - I no longer find them lovable losers - they are annoying;
  • Lawyer Phil was not concerned;
  • After the initial holding call on the last drive - the Steeler fans around us made non-printable comments about the O-Line;
  • The best way to describe being in the stadium during Santonio's catch - well it's still a blur...when Ben threw it I thought it was picked (keep in mind that I was on the exact opposite corner of the stadium)...then all I saw was Terrible Towels that started in that corner of the end zone and moved toward us like a rolling Tidal Wave;
  • Everyone around us thought it was Hines (he was the only person we saw on the ground that we could see);
  • It would be an understatement to say it was 'deafening' in there - it literally became a gold blur of Terrible Towels and people screaming - not sure I've seen that many men hug before...seriously;
  • After the game we stuck around for the post-game presentation - did they show Tomlin's comments? That's the most fired up I've ever seen the guy;
  • We raced toward the Super Bowl Store for 'special Sixburgh jersey's....ummm everything with the hint of black and gold on it was sold out;
  • The trip ended well - breakfast at Denny's in Lakeland, FL surrounded by fellow Steeler fans discussing the game - the locals were not amused.