October the 2nd, 2013 - My 18th birthday brought me the greatest present I have ever received, what every football fan desires, Super Bowl tickets. I am very lucky to say, that due to a very loving mother, I have witnessed the greatest event in sports: The Super Bowl XLVIII.
Even if you are familiar with football or not, you must have heard about the grandiose event that the Super Bowl is. If it’s not the obvious reason, you love football, maybe it’s because of the famously crazy commercials, or perhaps the incendiary halftime show, perhaps it’s the crazy numbers ($4 mil. for 30 seconds of commercial time) and hundred of millions viewers worldwide.
Whatever it is, the Super Bowl is so much more than just a sporting event, it is THE sporting event.
Now what happens if you put the greatest final of them all in the greatest city in the world: Super Bowl XLVIII in New York City, no words are necessary.
For the first time in history, the Super Bowl was coming to the Big Apple. At first it seemed like a crazy idea, too cold, too crowded, etc. But in the end it turned out to be a legendary Super Bowl. Growing up as a football fan in a country where the sport has just started to develop, everything seemed unreal. I must admit that I did see the Bucs play the Bears on Wembley 2 years ago, but truth be told it was nothing compared to what I have witnessed now.
After a very long flight (which was so worth it), I got off the plane. After I barley made a few steps into the JFK Airport, out of nowhere, a huge commercial popped up. It was a football covered in snow above which was written “This ain’t Miami”. It was the first of many more commercials to come. As I was waiting for a taxi, I suddenly noticed that every yellow cab had written on it “Super Bowl XLVIII NY/NJ”, needless to say I was enchanted.
I had no clue, but New York turned into football town, from Macy’s store dedicating an entire floor to football fan gear, decorated outside with giant footballs, to the Times Square turning into the Super Bowl Boulevard. From giant Pepsi commercials saying “We’ve been waiting 50 years for this”, to the Starbucks staff wearing football jerseys and selling football cookies. For a second you could even get confused, not knowing if you’re in NYC or in Football Heaven (I think it was a bit of both).
Super Boulevard was exactly what the name says, an entire boulevard dedicated to the event. From Time Square up to Macy’s (which is about 1.4 km) everything was “footballized”. You entered the boulevard facing a glass booth, which was where the NFL was filming its special live transmissions. Next on you had an actual real-sized kicking goal, where people had the opportunity to show off their kicking skills. Of course there had to be a gigantic replica of the Lombardi trophy. After it, all major sponsors of the event (Pepsi, Doritos, etc.) had various booths and various contests set up. In the middle of it all you had a stage where there were various concerts (Jay-Z, Drake and many more). When there were no concerts, famous football players like Ndamukong Suh, DeSean Jackson or Deion Sanders were signing autographs. Towards the end, there was an imposing 60 ft long slide, which was the main attraction of the Boulevard. And then at the very end on the right you had the famous Macy’s which on the other side of the street had a LED TV set up showing various football games. Oh, but this was not all, it is New York after all so they had to take it one step “too far”. How? There was a contest set up on Twitter which team could get more tweets #Broncos or #Hawks, and the grand prize was the lights of the Empire State building. Yes you read that right, the Empire State’s lights going orange or blue with green, watching over and reminding the city that doesn’t sleep that the big game is coming and there could only be one winner.
I have a whole new definition for that now. I was as nervous and as excited as I was before my very first game. Suddenly NYC was silent, as the whole party was moving at MetLife Stadium. After a 20 minute cab drive, I finally saw it, the biggest stadium I have ever seen in my life (with all due respect, it made National Arena and Wembley look small). I mean seriously I have no adjective to describe how big the Stadium was. There were fans from every corner of the U.S.: Jets fans, Giants fans, obviously a lot of Seahawks and Broncos fans, even Jaguars fans. Now there were 82,756 people at the stadium, all wearing jerseys from the 1960’s to SB48 jerseys; but only one of them was wearing a Bucharest Warriors jersey. You might think people thought of it as strange, on the contrary it was an instant conversation starter. People asked “what’s up with the jersey” or “where is that team from”, some even asked “do you play football”? I calmly answered all questions, and at the end, no matter who asked they all gave the same responses: a big smile, a loud “That’s awesome man!” and a big big cheer. I made lots of new and very interesting friends, and I am proud to say Warriors is the first team in Romania to have fans in the U.S.
After a spectacular show including tons of fireworks, about 20 airplanes and Queen Latifah singing “America the Beautiful” the game was on. As we all know, it was a blow out. Luckily for me I was sitting next to Seahawks fans (one of which cried at every touchdown). Now, I absolutely love watching the Super Bowl on TV, but in reality it was mental! The atmosphere was wild! The fans were going nuts! Trust me, on that first play (the safety) the crowd was so loud I couldn’t hear what my mother was saying to me (and she was sitting right next to me). A commentator even said “It’s like we’re in Seattle”. There is no point in recapping the game, as we all saw it. However I feel it is necessary to comment on the most notable moments of the game, and how they felt live:
- - At Marsahwn Lynch’s TD there were Skittles flying everywhere. Real Skittles.
- - The Halftime show is 100 times better live than on TV.
- - Sherman did 1 hour of laps by himself, 4 hours prior to the game.
- - Seattle’s hits were so hard, the whole stadium could hear them.
- - After the kick-off return for a TD, Broncos fans started leaving, while the Nation of Boom started partying.
- - After the game clock showed 00:00 it all went ballistic, MetLife Stadium turned into an unbelievable party. It was almost as if you were in Ibiza.
Going back home I was happy I had the honor to witness what I believe is a piece of history but in the same time I was sad as it was all over…until next year. The only “drawback” of the experience was the very long queues. Yet even then, when I was waiting I was enchanted by it all and made new friends while waiting.
I think there will be a lot of Super Bowls until one will come close to the epicness of this one. SB XLVIII put the bar very high.
I’d like to end by thanking my lovely mother, without whom none of this would have been possible.