By Brent Kennedy, firstname.lastname@example.org
6:15 AM EST, January 31, 2013
It was supposed to be a one-time thing. Alongside his older brother and three close friends, Ellicott City's Bobby Bisson made the trip to New England for the AFC Championship Jan. 19 to attend his first football playoff game. For a lifelong Baltimore Ravens fan, being there as the purple and black advanced to the Super Bowl was a dream come true.
Now, the 24-year-old isn't ready for the dream to be over.
"I don't remember the last time I've had that much fun," Bisson said. "Seeing them win the game, then sprinting down the ramps to get down to the lower level to celebrate with the players heading in to the locker room and being in the mayhem after that all around the stadium … It was incredible.
"The amount of fun we had in New England, I felt like I had to find a way to keep it going."
After exploring their options and weighing the costs, Bobby and his brother Mike, 26, decided Monday morning to pull the trigger on purchasing plane tickets to go to New Orleans for Super Bowl weekend.
The two are planning to go Saturday, Feb. 2 and stay through Monday evening. As of now, they don't have tickets to the game, but they have every intention of tracking down a pair once they get there.
"The whole time, thinking about it, I think we just decided we wanted to be in that atmosphere," Bobby said. "Being there, going to the festivities, that's going to be an incredible experience by itself. The hope is, one way or another, we can get tickets, too."
The Bisson brothers are just two of many from the area who have been swept up by Ravens fever. It has been 12 years since the team made its only Super Bowl appearance, defeating the New York Giants 34-7 for the franchise's only ring, and the thought of being along for the ride this time around was too good to pass up.
"The truth is, you can't take (making the Super Bowl) for granted … you never know how long it will be until the next time," Mike Bisson said. "I mean, the Ravens have been one of the league's top teams it seems like every year, yet it's still been 12 years since they've made it here."
Bobby, who was in middle school during that last championship, says he feels significantly more invested in the team's run this time around.
"I remember watching that (Super Bowl) game at a neighbor's house and being happy, but that was about it," he said. "This, by far, is so much better. I went to probably five or six games this year and of all the sports teams I root for the Ravens are No. 1."
Making the decision to pack up and follow the team around the country during its playoff run certainly doesn't come cheap.
When the Bissons and their friends — Arin Foreman, Alex Kapinos and Colin Kendall, all Howard County residents growing up — made the trip to New England, they found a bundle through WNST radio that included bus fare, hotel, tickets and tailgate. At $560 per person it was a deal too good to pass up.
Going down to New Orleans, though, carries a significantly larger price tag. The roundtrip flight costs $890 apiece, and that doesn't include hotel, food or tickets once there.
The brothers have earmarked roughly $1,000 each that they are willing to spend on tickets, deciding that they'll wait until right before kickoff if necessary.
"I've talked to people who have gone and done this same thing, so it's definitely possible," Bobby said. "And if we were somehow not able to get tickets, I'd be disappointed, but we're still going to have an incredible time."
For Mike, who also attended the Ravens' opening-round home playoff game this year against the Indianapolis Colts, the final cost of this year's Ravens' postseason run could set him back almost $4,000.
But the prospect of foregoing a summer vacation or two in the future is well worth the opportunity to see the Ravens chase football's ultimate prize.
"To me, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Mike said. "The chance to see Ray Lewis, a guy I've been watching since I was 10 years old, play his last game ever in person is something that's worth every penny.
"You never know what's going to happen in the future, so to be in a position where I can afford to do it, have the time and everything, I felt like I couldn't pass it up."