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My first Super Bowl didn't have a 'super' finish, but was still quite memorable

As I was trudging down Eighth Avenue in Manhattan on Monday morning with snow pelting my face, and my glove-less hands exposed to the biting wind because I was carrying a suitcase and a computer bag, I kept saying to myself: "Hey, it could be worse. You could be Peyton Manning today."

I was as unprepared for Monday's snowstorm as Manning and the Broncos were for Seattle the previous night, even though the NFL gave all media members a nice goodie bag that included a knit hat, gloves, muff and hand warmers.

So, I deserved having my head and eyeglasses covered with snow and my hands nearly frostbitten by the time I completed the 12-block-and-change walk through the slush and unyielding pedestrians and cars from the Sheraton Times Square hotel to the Port Authority bus terminal.

Wet, shivering and exhausted from lugging two bags — that's the unceremonious way I ended my first experience covering the Super Bowl.

Oh, I could have taken a cab. But I stubbornly pressed on just like Manning throwing into double coverage.

I kept thinking the snow can't be that bad to navigate. Turns out, this was the second time I couldn't be more wrong in a span of about 10 hours. I picked Denver, 34-17.

No one will feel sorry for me. I know most people would have traded their dry boots for my soggy shoes in a second to get to go to the Super Bowl for free.

And, I am not complaining. I considered it a career highlight to get to go to a Super Bowl, even if this one was less than 100 miles from the Lehigh Valley and the first to be played outside in a cold-weather city in the heart of winter.

Colleague and Eagles beat writer Nick Fierro was in New York all week. I just made a trip to NYC on Monday to pick up a credential, went to Media Day in Newark on Tuesday and then hung out for the weekend.

Seeing what Media Day was all about was one of the highlights of the week, even if I had to pay $40 to park — cash only as I found out with, typically, a cash-free wallet. Thankfully, an ATM was close by.

Media Day, for me, was where the stars came out — Regis Philbin, Nick Cannon, Hank Azaria, Gabby Douglas among them. I was glad I was able to recognize Joe Piscopo when it seemed like no one else did. Piscopo also seemed pleased that someone, even some newspaper guy from Allentown, recognized him.

There were actually more stars at the NFL Honors show on Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall, but the press was not allowed to get near the Alec Baldwins, Jennifer Garners, Jamie Foxxes and Aaron Pauls, or even the Cam Newtons, either on the red carpet outside or inside the theater.

We had to wait until the show began before we could enter and then were whisked down a staircase and penned up far away from the cameras and the celebs.

But I didn't need to see any Hollywood types. I got to see what I came for and that's Dieruff High and Kutztown University product Andre Reed walk across one of America's most famous stages as a new member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Eventually, the new Hall of Fame class was brought down to us and getting to be one of the first people from the Lehigh Valley to congratulate Reed in person was easily the No. 1 moment of the weekend for me.

Later in the same Radio City media room, I was reminded that the toughest team in New York is neither the Jets nor the Giants — it's the media corps.

I had finished my story, but many of the New Yorkers were still waxing poetic about Michael Strahan when someone from the Radio City staff came by and told us that the media room needed to be cleared immediately, even though we all thought we had another hour to stay.

I thought we were going to see a reenactment of the "West Side Story" rumble between the Jets and the Sharks.

I left before any chairs or tables went airborne.

As for Super Sunday itself, what struck me instantly is how everything and everybody closed up shop at Super Bowl headquarters in Manhattan and left for the Meadowlands.

The media lounge, the press work room and radio row, which had been bustling during the week with NFL royalty, were quiet and almost completely empty.

No matter, because it was off to the stadium in another highlight moment — a police-escorted bus caravan that got us from the hotel in mid-town Manhattan to the MetLife Stadium parking lot in about 15 minutes, or 45 minutes less than it what it would have normally taken in rush hour.

Finally, I was at the Super Bowl, a dream come true for someone who has considered Super Sunday a national holiday since he was a little kid.

With my credential draped around my neck, I couldn't wait to get through the media check-in tent

So, I get to the guard with the credential scanner in his hand and he's desperately trying to get my credential to scan, but it doesn't.

And there I am stuck at the entrance to the media tent.

I still think it was a bad scanner, like the kind I always get on the self-serve aisle at the grocery store, and not a bad credential. Several others had the same problem.

But there we stood, so close and yet so far to gaining entrance to the biggest event in American sports, and feeling like criminals.

Everything was double-checked, and finally, we were let in.

Eventually I got to my seat, and while it wasn't in the press box, it was under cover and some heat lamps, and near food and drink. And it was actually on the lower level, albeit behind the end zone. Hey, Rachel Nichols, the former ESPN reporter now working for CNN, was in the same section, so if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me.

The pregame hours passed quickly. The player introductions, the singing of "God Bless America" and the National Anthem were all great, and so was seeing Joe Namath again in a fur coat.

Since the game was so lopsided, the Bruno Mars halftime show was the last highlight of the night for me even though it was loud, much louder than anything coming from the Denver fans in the crowd.

At a certain point, it began to feel just like any other football game I've covered. It wasn't until Pete Carroll got the Gatorade shower, the confetti flew and the postgame ceremony stage erected that I was reminded again that I was at the Super Bowl.

I lingered a bit, took some more photos and tried to soak it all in.

Nostalgia gave way to shivers, and then It was back to the media bus and the return trip to Manhattan.

Monday's snowy walk will probably give me one more souvenir from the Super Bowl — a brutal cold that will last for weeks.

But even though not everything was super about the game and the week leading up to it, I'd do it all over again if given the chance.

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