East student recounts Super Bowl experience

Jordan Schmidt ('14)/ For Eastside

February 6, 2011. The entire nation is huddled around their TV sets, snacking on fatty foods and multiple drinks, with friends and relatives, or maybe alone, watching the biggest sporting event of the year. Fans and families everywhere around the country have been molded since birth to love and cherish the Super Bowl. And while millions of viewers were watching at home, only a handful of crazed Pittsburgh, Green Bay and other fans got to witness the Super Bowl live and on location. And this reporter happened to be there. You’ll hear of my story, the festivities before the event, and the gruesome details of the million lines.

Before I drone on about an event that happened a week ago, you may ask how I came into contact with these tickets in the first place. I have my father to thank for that. He works at NFL Films, and most of the crew was going to the Super Bowl anyway. Most employees working there are allowed a few extra tickets, so the two tickets went to my mom and me. I realize that while I am in no way wealthy, I am still privileged, and grateful for that.

The adventure began, as most do, on an airplane. I hitched a ride on a plane on the Saturday before the Super Bowl with Steelers fans surrounding me. After three and a half hours of excessive gum chewing and ear popping, my mom and I arrived in the Lone Star State. Soon after getting lost in the airport, my dad pulled up to the passenger pickup area in his old time Mercury Grand Marquis. Though my dad had only been there a week, his car was already looking like it had been plowing around in the desert for ten years. Still, with a car meant for 80-year-olds, who can go wrong?

We soon ventured over to the NFL Experience, which is like Comic Con for football fans. It was a huge area, filled with exhibits and areas devoted to the game of football. Lots and lots of fans were crowded inside the giant Convention Center, looking for pigskin-inspired swag. That night was Taste of the NFL, an ultra-VIP event mainly for rich people (how we got in, I’ll never know). It’s basically an uber-fancy buffet: each of the 32 teams is represented by a chef from its hometown, cooking up a mini platter of a specialty dish. Also, they had former football players signing autographs all over the place. I got a bunch, but the highlight was Seattle Hall of Famer Steve Largent.

So far, you may ask, “But Jordan, this is all stuff before the Super Bowl. Why should we care about this?” Well, fair reader. I haven’t even begun to mention Sunday, February 6,  and what happened therein.

The madness began at 9:55, when all three of us (my mother, my father and I) trudged out of bed, got ready and made our way downstairs for lunch. Sometime after scarfing down a mondo-sized burger, we decided to make a pilgrimage out of our hotel and toward the stadium via our own feet. It wasn’t the longest walk, and our travels led us past not only the local Six Flags Park, but the former site of the last major sporting event (The World Series), Rangers Ballpark. Soon, after blending in with a bunch of fans, my dad separated from us to join his crew outside the stadium. My mom and I were on our own in a line full of fans who just wanted a decent bite to eat, let alone to watch a football game.

It took 25 long minutes for us to get through the line of people to be patted down by security. I was one of the numbskulls who, after taking off every piece of metal in their pockets, forgot to take off his silly watch. And had to be searched by a befuddled security guard, only to figure out it was just the watch. Still, after being embarrassed once, we ventured on to try and find the entrance to the NFL Tailgate Party, which we also had tickets to. After following crowds, my mom and I found ourselves lost in crowds of people (who were, again, just looking for some grub), until we eventually found signs leading us to the entrance.

As for the Tailgate Party, I am sorry to say that it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. The food wasn’t as good as we thought, and said food was also kind of cold. There were tons of people huddled near the stage area, where artists like Keith Urban and Maroon Five belted out their hits to a clearly uninterested audience of overweight football fans who had never heard their music before. As for me, all I did was sit around for a few hours with my mom on a comfy couch. And that was nice.

Following the Tailgate Disappointment, we made our way, slowly, into the stadium, past crowds of entering fans through escalators and stairways. (It should be noted through this rampage that my mother and I were incognito, in Green Bay jerseys and hats). We eventually found our seats, and they weren’t bad. We were practically in a corner on the mezzanine level, buried near the Steelers’ end-zone. Next to us were two budding Packer fans and a well-traveled Pittsburgh fan. I remember the Steeler fan muttering to me before the game, “One of us is going to leave happy…” He was right. Still, at no point was there any war between fans of both sides; none have very vicious fan-bases in the first place.

Soon the festivities began, and so did the usual insanity that comes with these things. We all gasped through Christina Aguilera’s drubbing of the National Anthem, we all smiled when Lea Michele of “Glee”sang “America the Beautiful,” and I was the only person who cheered at the marching band playing at the beginning, because that’s how I roll. Also, while there was a huge stir over the fact that many fans were denied seats in the stadium, I was lucky enough to not be one of those fans. Still, being that I was used to insanity, I didn’t pay notice until after the game had ended.

The game began soon after, and while munching on common ballpark food such as soft pretzels and hot dogs, Green Bay scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, making everyone in my row stand up and scream (Even the Pittsburgh fans, but they were screaming against the call). At the end of the half, things were looking good for Green Bay, and not so good for the Steelers.

Now here is where I ramble on about the technically inept monstrosity known as the Halftime Show. However, in the stadium, it wasn’t as bad as everyone watching from home said it was. We could hear Will.i.am, Fergie and the rest belting out their tunes perfectly- maybe it didn’t go too well for the cameras trying to capture their every move. The audience cheered at the entrances of Usher and Slash, as well as the amazing special effects. But still, I would’ve preferred an actual rock band performing at half time… like Green Day, or maybe Bon Jovi. But beggars can’t be choosers.

The game resumed shortly, and the Packers constantly added to their lead, while Roethlisberger’s gang slowly lost interest in winning. As the second half ended, the confetti fell, the streamers flew and the cloud of dust dissolved, revealing the victorious Green Bay Packers with the win. The fans sitting next to me were so happy and were jumping all over the place, figuratively of course. The Pittsburgh fan on my left was angry, but being that his team had won six rings already, he could take it.

After this, neglecting the chance to stay for the trophy ceremony, my mom and I bolted. We soon found that the doors that were closest to us were being blocked by the paranoid staffers who didn’t want anyone to slip and fall on the nearly nonexistent ice. Only a few argumentative fans exited through those doors; the rest of us had to follow the herd of furious Steelers fans as they led the parade out the door.  After the number of fans going our direction slowly diminished, my mom and I found ourselves back at out hotel, after a long day and longer night.

The Super Bowl was an experience I’ll never forget. Not many people can say they’ve been to one, but I fall under the few citizens who have ventured through every obstacle, every temptation… just for football.