(Editor's Note: Clarissa Ford, a West Orange High School TAP Team Reporter, had a last-minute opportunity to attend Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. Here is her personal account of the experience.)
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The NFL really rolled out the red carpet for its fans at Super Bowl XLVII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. I was surprised to experience such an elaborate event presented by the NFL as fans traveled from around the country to attend the first cold-weather Super Bowl game between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.
There was a slight price dip on StubHub for Super Bowl tickets on Jan. 30. My Dad and I impulsively purchased tickets to the historic game where the Seahawks blew out the Broncos, 43-8.
The Meadowlands Complex prohibited fans from tailgating, but StubHub offered their customers a free tailgate party in Secaucus, inclduing free food and drinks, games and activities, and transportation to the stadium.
The Meadowlands was a sea of navy, orange, and neon green and fans could be heard chanting “Sea-Hawks” and “Let’s go Broncos.” Over 3,000 security guards and 700 police officers were present and Transit Security Administration (TSA) officers and volunteers assisted the 82,529 fans in navigating through several security checkpoints. A No Fly Zone was established around and above the perimeter of MetLife Stadium.
Checkpoints were set up in covered, heated pavillions in the event of cold or snowy weather. Once cleared by security, fans could move about freely and interact with the media, participate in games, and listen to free concerts.
It was strange to see MetLife Stadium filled with fans bedecked in jerseys other than Jets or Giants, and it seemed more Bronco fans were in attendance.The Bronco fans, initially enthusiastic, would soon experience a commanding win by Seattle.
Every fan's seat in MetLife stadium held a special package, containing a seat cushion, hand warmers, lip balm, tissues, gloves, a hand muff, a radio, and an interactive hat to allow fans to partake in the halftime show. While the NFL did help fans prepare for the cold weather, many of the hand warmers went unused, as it was balmy 49 degrees at kickoff.
Entertainment at the game spanned several diverse musical genres. Prior to kickoff, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Syracuse University Marching Bands performed, each representing New Jersey and New York. New Jersey native Queen Latifah and the New Jersey Youth Chorus sang “America the Beautiful,” followed by Opera star Renee Fleming's performance of The National Anthem. Three United States Army Black Hawks, three Apache attack helicopters, and three Chinook heavy-lifters, performed a V-shaped military fly over, giving fans in the upper decks quite a show.
With a halftime score of 22-0, the anxiety of the Broncos fans was growing, and performances by Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers lifted spirits. The fans participated in the “largest video screen in history watched by hundreds of millions of people.” The knit ski hats sported a Pepsi logo and three lights, which were all simultaneously synced during the halftime performance. The hats created a sea of white and blue flashing lights at times during the show, even creating a visual countdown to the performances.
The second half flew by as the Seahawks scored less than a minute into the third quarter, clearly dominating the game. Denver’s Demaryius Thomas finally scored a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning. The Broncos went for the two-point conversion to score their only 8 points in the game. The Seahawks scored their final touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.
Navy and neon green confetti flew onto the turf at MetLife as the Seahawks won their first Vince Lombardi Trophy. Malcolm Smith was named MVP, making him only the third linebacker in NFL history to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
The outstanding experience at MetLife was dampened, however, when the New York/New Jersey Host Committee dropped the ball with fans' departures. Billed as the "First Mass-Transit Super Bowl," fans were advised to take mass transit to and from the game. Over 28,000 fans strained capacity and set a record for single-day traffic through Secaucus Junction. We stood for over two hours outside the stadium before even catching a glimpse of a NJ Transit train. As tensions rose, fans became irritable and began pushing and shoving their way through the never-ending lines. Several fans who attended previous Super Bowls noted that this was the worst experience they ever had leaving a stadium.
All in all, the experience was truly unforgettable and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While the price tag didn’t match what was ultimately a one-sided game, it did offer special memories that I, as a dedicated football fan, will cherish forever.