EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — I’ve sat in the press box plenty of times in my career, but in this, my third Super Bowl, I wanted to sit among the masses. So I camped out on the 300 level at MetLife Stadium, mixed with the fans and enjoyed Super Bowl Sunday in a way I never had.
Here are my observations from the cheap seats at Super Bowl XLVIII:
– You haven’t lived unless you’ve sat at the highest point of a stadium during a flyover. I did just that, scrambling to the top of Section 301, where pyrotechnics rattled my eardrums before Army helicopters whipped up the air and the senses around me. Awesome.
– The wind — and, thus, the cold — picked up at the start of second quarter, causing me to scramble back to the media workroom for my gloves and knit hat. As I walked to retrieve them, drizzle hit, but it had stopped by the time I came back outside. The wind later stopped, too, making for a pleasant evening. Northeast winters can be fickle, no doubt.
– After Malcolm Smith intercepted a Peyton Manning pass and took it back for a second-quarter touchdown, Broncos fans scrambled for the concourse. I wondered where they were going, but I soon received my answer. One Broncos fan walked up to me, simply said, “That sucked,” then marched straight to the beer line. Yeah, it was that kind of night for the Denver faithful.
– Uncomfortable with the mounting score against their team, Broncos fans keep leaving their seats — and eventually vacated the stadium completely — but Seahawks fans stayed firmly planted and enjoyed the rout. They even starting yelling “Omaha!” at Peyton Manning during his infamous pre-snap audibles. The remaining Broncos fans could do nothing but watch the clock tick. The 12th Man is real, and he is loud and loyal.
– People aren’t good at listening to instructions. Case in point: Fans were supposed to put on NFL-provided beanies during the second quarter’s 2-minute warning, as a test for halftime-show effects. Very few people did it. Didn’t seem to affect Bruno Mars, though.
– NFL games are a chance for some fans to break out the cool retro jerseys. Sunday night’s winners were the guy rocking the Dave Krieg No. 17 home blue and the dude donning the Steve Atwater No. 27 throwback. I saw Jim Zorn before the game and really wished he’d been wearing his old Seahawks No. 10 jersey.
– The Seahawks’ dominance took the wind out of the Broncos and the crowd, leading Seattle supporters to wonder when the game would mercifully end. Walking into an NFL Shop kiosk, one Seahawks fan asked — sarcastically, I might add — “Has Broncos gear gone on sale yet?”