By the time we finally made it to our seats, the hype had hit a crescendo. The Pats fans had made the final minutes before the game miserable, as if they secretly knew it was their last chance to crow for a long, long time. The Super Bowl is a weird environment because the crowd is not partisan. About 50% of the fans were Giants (or Colts) fans, 30% were Pats fans and 20% didn’t really care. Because the numbers were so split, the stadium never stopped buzzing, but also never hit frenzied levels of noise.
Photo courtesy of Kerry Byrne, ColdHardFootballFacts.com
They’ve done away with on field introductions in part because I think teams always want to be introduced together. the effect is weird. They play video intros that are soulless, and then the teams charge out as one. At this point, I was so nervous about the game that the other pregame activities like the anthem just became a blur.
Our seats were amazing. It felt like I was watching the All-22 film live. I’ve never been a big endzone seat guy, but from a strictly intellectual stand point, the angle is fascinating. The endzone is an amazing place to watch routes develop. The single biggest takeaway I had from the game was how beautifully the Patriots offense is constructed. The route combinations were spectacular. Players would be running well covered through a zone and then pop they would just spring wide open. There were several instances with Welker where I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor at how open he got. I always wondered how they accomplished it, but after watching it from that angle, I can safely say that the Patriots offense is a thing of genius.
I also noted that the press seats suck. I’ve never been more happy not to have credentials in my life.
If you notice the hint of grey hair in the lower corner of the first photo, that gentleman was wearing an orange Tom Brady jersey. There were a lot of Patriots fans around me, so I spent most of the game loudly disparaging their quarterback without actually being offensive. It’s a trait I’ve mastered through years of practice. After Brady heaved his first pass of the game to no one, I stood up screaming that it was grounding. It actually took the officials a good minute to make the call, and in the meanwhile, the rest of the section was looking at me like I was nuts. Grounding on a deep ball is relatively unusual, but in this case it was an easy call. There was no one within 30 yards of Brady’s throw. After the safety was confirmed, I went on a long rant ostensibly to Pat, though actually directed at every Patriots fan within 40 seats of me.
“What a fail! What a foolish throw. Brady should be ashamed of himself for making such a CRITICAL mistake there. That’s just embarrassing for him!” It went on and on. It’s the perfect technique: the know-it-all ahole. Because there’s no actual profanity involved, it’s hard to start a fight over it. But at the same time, it’s highly annoying because the heckler (me in this case) is clearly trying to flaunt intellectual superiority over you for rooting for such a stupid team (as the Patriots). I confess, I don’t go into this mode often, but this was war. Patriots fans had invaded my stadium to celebrate their team and it was my sworn duty to make the game experience as miserable as possible for them.
Like all Indy natives, I spent the week back-slapping the New Englanders and making sure they felt welcome in our humble mid-western town. We spent $700 million on a stadium, and we needed their money. I sold it like everyone else, but it was through clenched teeth. After they spent the hours leading up to the game clowning on everyone in blue, it was game on. Am I proud of my slow burn, Chinese water torture treatment of the Patriot fans? Maybe not. Do I apologize for it? Not a bit. Happy happy nice nice ended at kickoff.
Grey-haired Man traded spots with another guy 6 seats down by the end of the quarter. It’s his own fault. An orange Brady jersey is an affront to humanity. Mission accomplished.
The first half was frustrating to say the least. While the safety was one of the highlights of my life, knowing that Giants had let the Pats up off the mat stuck in my craw. New England had the lead, and I was going to be subjugated to Madonna.
I loathe Madonna on all levels. I’m not even going to start that conversation, but just know that on the continuum of ‘how people feel about Madonna’, I’m way at the one end. I don’t want to disparage other people’s ideas of art (well, I do want to, but I won’t), but Madonna couldn’t be less my thing. Her performance was uneven and caused ear bleeding in several parts of the stadium, with only Like a Prayer showing off any melody at all. Still, I was there, so here’s a photo and a short video. Then I will move on and try and forget what I saw.
Not that it’s easy, because my wife says, “Hey, how was that Madonna concert you went to?” at least twice a day.
Cruel, cruel woman.
Coming soon, the final installment: the second half.