It wasn’t supposed to end like this, not our record breaking year. The Denver Broncos had the best season they’ve had in fifteen years. They set NFL records with most points in a season, most touchdown passes in a season, longest field goal, and so on and so on. There was no way that my Broncos would lose the one Super Bowl I was actually attending. But alas, they did. The Denver Broncos lost Super Bowl XLVIII 8-43 to the Seattle Seahawks – and I was there to witness it.
After my whole ticket buying odyssey the week prior, my plans completely changed the night before I left for New Jersey. The person I sold the other ticket to had someone who wanted to go with him, so I sold my ticket in the upper deck and bought a ticket in the 100 level for the same price from Stub Hub. I am SO grateful that happened because I had a spectacular seat.
I left Maryland 9am Saturday morning February 1st with my ORANGE SUV decorated in all my Broncos stuff – hats, coats, towel, the Bronco horse hat, etc. It was an easy and quick drive up 95 to the Meadowlands. I got chills and butterflies as I drove past Newark Airport as I knew I was getting close – and I had just watch the Broncos arrive there a week ago. Around 12:15pm, I arrived at the Stub Hub HQ at the Expo Center to pick up my ticket. They were really great. It was a very easy process. They handed me my ticket in section 121 row 35 seat 13, unlucky 13 as it turns out. I went over to my hotel a few miles away at the Courtyard Marriott Lyndhurst, which was the same exit as Met Life Stadium – just in the opposite direction. The hotel staff was great. Plus they had Super Bowl merchandise set up in the lobby that was half price. I bought a program for $10 (that was $20 at the stadium) and an orange Broncos Super Bowl tee shirt for $20 (that was regularly $40). My room was great! It was cozy and quiet. I couldn’t hear any noise from outside or from the hallway. I had a refrigerator for my snacks I brought, and there was a microwave in the lobby to use. I spent the rest of the day relaxing in my room resting up for the big day. I ordered a pizza, napped and watched tv.
I didn’t sleep much that night. I woke up at 8am, but stayed in bed until 11am. Around 12:30 I left the hotel wearing my orange sneakers, Broncos socks, United in Orange tee shirt, Shannon Sharpe jersey, Broncos bracelet, Broncos necklace and Broncos hat. It was a quick, easy five minute drive over to Met Life Stadium, but then it was a half hour to get my car onto the stadium lot. The security was insane. My car was dog-sniffed on the outside for bombs. Then the police looked inside my car and made sure I had a ticket and a parking pass – making sure I wasn’t smuggling anyone else in with me. I finally got parked at the Izod Center, waited in my car about 45 minutes and then headed over to Met Life. Another 45 minutes later, I was finally inside the stadium. Security was still tight. They patted me down and I walked through a metal detector, but somehow I snuck in my purse (lots of concert going experience). Once through security, there was a long walkway to the stadium. I got a ‘United in Orange’ Broncos Super Bowl towel. Outside the walkway, before you got to the stadium, there were bars and merchandise and music.
I was in my seat around 3pm. I received my Super Bowl seat cushion with a bag of swag containing gloves, hat, chapstick, earmuffs, a hand muffler like the QBs have, a scarf, and a radio. My section was right by the entrance to the stadium and next to the women’s bathroom. My row was right by the exit to the concessions. My view was amazing! I was in the Broncos endzone in the corner above the Broncos tunnel at the Super Bowl!!! Everything was going my way, or so I thought. I got chicken tenders french fries and an iced tea in a souvenir cup. The chicken and fries weren’t very good, and I didn’t finish because I saw John Elway come out on the field and was then too excited to eat. I was surrounded by a great group of guys, mostly Broncos fans. Warm ups started. The Broncos were warming up in our endzone. The Syracuse ORANGEmen band was the pregame show. I thought this was a good omen. It was not.
You know the rest of the story. Queen Latifah sang “America the Beautiful,” some opera singer from Denver sang the “National Anthem,” and then the game started. I should have known when he Broncos lost the coin toss, after Joe Nameth flubbed the first toss in his signature fur coat. On the first play, there was a cadence problem and the ball was snapped over Peyton’s head. The Seahawks were up 2-0 with a safety, the quickest score in Super Bowl history. And it only got worse from there. By halftime, the Broncos were losing 22-0. Bruno Mars performed the halftime show. I didn’t think he was worthy of performing at the Super Bowl. That should be reserved for legendary performers. But I have to admit he was really good, even though I was in no mood for a concert. He started out with a drum solo on a moving catwalk to the stage, which was on the sideline at the Broncos bench – so I wasn’t too far away. The Red Hot Chili Peppers joined him on stage and sang “Give it Away.” It didn’t fit at all with Bruno’s performance, but I liked it. At the end, there were fireworks which always gets the crowd going. The third quarter started and I still had hope because we had come back from deficits like this before. But the Seahawks immediately ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. I knew deep down that was it. But the Broncos did score one touchdown, and luckily it was in my endzone so I got to see it close up. I left with three minutes left in the game, the score was 43-8.
I walked back to my car as fast as I could because it was around 10pm and I had decided to drive home instead of staying the night to beat the five to eight inches of snow that was expected in Maryland overnight. I got lost finding my car. I ended up in the wrong parking lot. While I was getting to the right parking lot, I saw Jessie Jackson. He had an escort walking him through the parking lot. I have seen him before, when I worked at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. But still whenever I see Jessie Jackson, I always flash to that picture of him on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel when Dr. King was assassinated. I finally got to my car and to my surprise, there was no traffic getting out of the stadium or back to my hotel. It was the same five minute drive it was getting there. I packed up my stuff and left my hotel at 10:45. About a half hour later, a sadness set in like it does after a concert. I was not only sad because we lost, but because it was over. All the excitement and anticipation of going to the Super Bowl was over. It was a real let down. I listened to the new U2 song “Invisible” on repeat for the three hour drive home because U2 always makes it better – and I wanted to learn the new song. I arrived home just before 2am.
This wasn’t the worse loss in Denver’s Super Bowl history. In 1990, the Broncos lost to the 49ers 55-10. I remember that loss all too well. In fact, this year’s Super Bowl reminded me of those three Denver Super Bowl losses in the 1980s. John Elway would play great all season and then would choke in the Super Bowl. And with each Super Bowl, the losses got worse. (Luckily Elway and the Broncos finally won two back to back Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999). Not that Peyton Manning was the reason we lost, just as John Elway wasn’t the reason. Peyon did throw two interceptions, but there was also that bad snap, dumb penalties, fumbles, and so on and so on.
Even though my Denver Broncos lost the biggest game in sports, I still had a great experience. I went to the Super Bowl! I had a great seat, couldn’t have been any better. Oddly enough though, it didn’t feel like the Super Bowl though. Not that I know what the Super Bowl is supposed to feel like. But to me, it just felt like a really important Broncos game. I am happy to go to any Denver Broncos game. Maybe if we would have won, it would have felt more like the Super Bowl. It was not all corporate and full of celebrities, at least not where I was sitting. I was surrounded my fans. I didn’t see one celebrity except Jessie Jackson in the parking lot. And I think Zane Beadles’ parents were sitting a few rows in front of me. It was quieter than I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be extremely loud, screaming and cheering the entire game. Although it was reported to be 49 degrees at kickoff, I was really cold during the game. Granted, it was a lot warmer that originally forecasted, but it was cold like a damp cold. I couldn’t have planned my Super Bowl trip any better though. I had an easy drive up to and back from New Jersey, and I had a great hotel just a few minutes from the stadium. I am so glad I bought a parking pass and drove to the game. Although there were over 80,000 people in attendance, I didn’t have any traffic leaving the stadium. (I think they were all in line to take the train back to NYC). Two years ago at the U2 show, it took me almost two hours to get my to my hotel that was also only a few minutes away.
Thank you to everyone for your support. I received texts from my friends and messages from my online friends, all who were so happy for me that I was going to the Super Bowl to see my Denver Broncos play. Some of these people I hadn’t heard from in years. It was really nice to know that everyone was so happy for me. And then I heard from everyone again asking if I was alright after that horrific loss. Yes, I am alright. It was a disappointing loss, but the Broncos had a great, record breaking season and are still better than any other AFC team! We are still United in Orange!
To see all my pictures from Super Bowl XLVIII, please click here.