1:14 PM EST, February 5, 2013
Leading up to and after the Super Bowl, we'll be sharing dispatches sent to us by Ravens fans going to New Orleans. We hope that "Super Fans: A fan's-eye view of XLVII" allows the rest of Ravens Nation to share in their experience.
Posts will be published blog-style in reverse chronological order as we receive them. Entries are edited for style.
Confetti falls during the post-game ceremonies.Tammy Lunkenheimer
I am barely able to find the right words to describe my Super Bowl experience. If I could bottle up every moment, every memory of the best day I could have ever wished for, it would never come close to what I experienced the day our beloved Ravens became the champions of the world. It was nothing short of magical.
We began our day with a trip to the festivities taking place along the river, blending into the sea of purple jerseys and fans dressed to the nines in their most sensational Ravens wear. There were tutus, crazy hats, and lots and lots of purple beads around everyone's necks. We enjoyed cold drinks and lively music as a preface for the big game.
We made a stop on our way to the stadium at a parking lot to tailgate with some friends staying in an RV before finally making our way through town to the Super Dome where we were shuffled through the security lines. The fans from both teams were friendly and enthusiastic. I think we were all caught up in the thrill of just being there. What an overwhelming feeling to look up at that dome and the larger-than-life image of Joe Flacco and realize "this is the moment", we are at THE Super Bowl!
Once inside, we found our seats right behind the goal post of the San Francisco end zone. It was an amazing view, even better than we had expected. It was like being a kid at a candy store! There was so much to see! It was a difficult balance between wanting to take a million pictures to capture the moment and trying to save my phone battery for later. Someone could make a small fortune selling mobile instant recharging stations! We were surrounded by other Ravens fans and it felt a little like a home game. There were still a good amount of Niners fans in attendance but I noticed it was the Baltimore fans who were going out of their way to meet, hug, high five and shake hands with one another. As silly as it may sound, you could feel the love of our Ravens Nation all around.
My favorite moment was the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. I had been anticipating it for days...getting to yell the "O!". Outside of Baltimore no one does that, but having grown up with it, every time I sing our national anthem I heard it in my hear. I was tickled to the tips of my toes to be able to yell it. Hearing that wonderful tribute to Baltimore echoing out for the world to hear from New Orleans nearly brought me to tears. There are no words to describe the feeling.
Once the game began, it was nothing short of amazing! Our throats were raw from cheering and our hands nearly bruised from clapping. Watching our Ravens out there giving it their all to bring that Lombardi trophy back to Baltimore was a sight to behold. Flacco's passes delivered as catch after catch we inched our way closer to victory. It was exhilarating and nerve wracking and exciting all rolled into one. When Jacoby Jones ran those 108 yards to score I thought my heart had stopped.
Then the lights went out. We passed time getting some great photos of the team trying to stay limber and watching the upper decks attempt to establish the wave. It also gave us time to chit-chat with our fellow seatmates. Everyone was friendly, even Bruce and his son Ben who were a few of the only fans wearing 49ers gear in our section. The folks on the other side of us were Ravens fans and before long we were talking and laughing as if we were old friends. They even invited us to a party in the French Quarter after the game.
By the fourth quarter we were on edge, white knuckled and feeling nauseated. As stressful as I'm sure it felt to everyone watching from home, in the Super Dome you could feel the tension: Everything was riding on those last few minutes. Then in what seemed like a blink of an eye, the confetti was falling, we were hugging and crying and the Baltimore Ravens had won Super Bowl XLVll. Amazing. Gritty. Breathtaking. Unforgettable.
Tickets were legit. We're in! 68 and sunny. Tailgating outside the stadium.
Rockin! "Seven Nation Army" strong!
Fans hoping for a glimpse of the Ravens as they departed their hotel began hollering when workers assembled a curtain to block their view. "I guess I understand, but that sucks," fan blogger Michael Weiss wrote in.Michael Weiss
At the team hotel waiting for the team to walk out.
The team buses are ready to roll! The hotel lobby is packed with Ravens fans. The dome should be 20-1 ravens fans. Can't wait to hear that!
There were a few pockets of San Francisco fans here and there,
but this town is truly painted purple!
The anticipation began to build as we got closer to our destination and when the Super Dome and the billboard proclaiming our Ravens as AFC Champions came into sight, we could barely get our iPhones out fast enough to snap a photo!
We followed the GPS to the address for the house we rented for the weekend in the historic (but still being renovated from hurricane Katrina) neighborhood of Arabi, just a quick 10-minute drive across the canal from the French Quarter. I have to say that this was the best find of the weekend! The quaint two-bedroom cottage is owned by an older gentleman and is chock full of amazing artwork, antiques, interesting architectural features and has a gorgeous garden, pond and waterfall in the back courtyard. To top it off, it was less expensive than a hotel and we get to kick back and live like locals for a few days. Sweet!
Once we unloaded the car, it was just a $12 cab fare (courtesy of "Big Rhonda" our driver who entertained us with colorful tales of her life in this fine city) to Bourbon Street where we were greeted with throngs of Ravens fans. It felt like all of Baltimore had made the trip to be here for Super Bowl weekend! Other than the streets around M&T on a gameday, I have never been so completely engulfed by our Ravens family.
You could honestly feel the love we have for one another and for our team. It really made me proud and a bit misty-eyed. What a sight to behold! There were a few pockets of San Francisco fans here and there, but this town is truly painted purple! If the sounds of "Seven Nation Army" echoing up and down Bourbon Street all night are any indication, I say that despite our team being labeled as "Visitors", The Ravens are going to have the home field advantage for this game!
As a fan from outside of Maryland who usually spends game days with The NFL Sunday Ticket, it is such a thrill to be surrounded by the Ravens Nation. This is an experience of a lifetime! I wouldn't trade it for anything. Just to be here, all of us Raven fans from all over coming together to support our team, I cannot think of anything that could top this!
After a delicious meal of cajun food and many drinks, we finally made our way out of the raucous and exuberant crowds in the French Quarter to attend a ticketed event at a downtown sports bar complete with an '80s cover band, a silent auction of some amazing sports memorabilia and autograph signing with Lardarius Webb. We had a great night chatting with everyone we met and even bumped into a few old high school friends. Small world!
Eventually the night wound down and we took a cab back to the house for one last sleep. Today is the big day. Super Bowl here we come! Go Ravens!
On Bourbon street. Enough said.
It was everything I imagined it to be: Music on every street corner, beer in every hand and strings of beads falling from balconies. There were purple-and-black-clad fans everywhere screaming “Seven Nation Army” like we were back home at M&T Bank Stadium.
My family and I stumbled into the famous Pat O'Brien's restaurant where the hurricanes were flowing like water. But even with more than a good buzz, there was one thing that really stood out to me: I realized that we have one of the most loyal fanbases in the NFL. Our dedication to our team is unparalleled. Fans I spoke to throughout the night have traveled all over the country in support as we edged one game closer to holding the Lombardi.
Their wins are our wins and their losses are our losses. But one thing is for sure, no matter what happens on Sunday the Ravens Nation will still be as strong as ever.
The NFL Experience at the convention center.Matt Libber
So I finally made it to New Orleans on Friday. Let's just say my hotel room is shady at best. I am stuck on the Westbank, and it feels like I am an extra in "The Wire". I did sleep well, but it was more out of exhaustion then it was from comfort. At any point I was waiting for the door to my hotel room to get kicked in, and I was going to get robbed. But it is what it is. I thought I would have more of a sense of comfort with 98 Rock staying in the same hotel, but they apparently have the same fear I do.
We started the day heading over to the NFL Experience at the convention center. It was pure sensory overload. They had autographs, memorabilia, punt/pass/kick competitions and everything else football-related you could imagine. Out of all the fan experiences I have been to at major sorting events, this one was over the top. I didn't know what to look at next. It was almost too much.
Eventually, we made our way out of the fan experience and worked our way through the crowds of New Orleans. We made quick stops at the ESPN broadcast as well as the CBS broadcast before settling with Cafe Pontalba for lunch. We all ordered some traditional Cajun food, such as blackened and fried alligator, fried shrimp, po' boys and some gumbo. It was the first time for the rest of my group to experience Remoulade sauce, which is fantastic. We also downed some hurricanes and something called Voodoo Juice. I am sure that Voodoo Juice will pack quite a hangover tomorrow.
After lunch, we did the tourist thing and walked Bourbon Street. We ran into quite a few people we knew, including a guy who sits in our section at the 'big ATM' back in Baltimore. Eventually, we found our way to one of the balconies overlooking the street and had some fun as if it were Mardi Gras. We even managed to provide ABC Channel 2 with some B-roll footage of beads being tossed from the balcony. It is very obvious that the Ravens fans outnumber Niners fans by probably 10-to-1. It is startling how big the difference is between the two groups. A testament to both groups is that we all got along great together. There is no ill will between the sets of fans; everyone just wants to have a good time.
Eventually, we decided it was time to go home and grabbed a cab back to the Westbank. Unfortunately, we had a minor disagreement when the driver refused to turn on the meter and tried to charge us $50 to go home for a four-mile trip. After a heated argument, he just dropped us on a the side of the road to fend for ourselves. Before you Baltimore people get too defensive, I have had the same argument in Baltimore over cab fare. After about five minutes, we found another cab that would take us home for $15.
Once home, a new argument ensued in which we negotiated our way out of our four-night minimum at our hotel. My brother (by the way, Friday was his 37th birthday) has a great room in downtown NOLA, while I am staying in what amounts to a slummy motel. After some intense conversation - in which I produced photographs of my room door with what appear to be repaired bullet holes - the hotel finally agreed to release the charges for our remaining two nights. Unfortunately, in trips like this, not everything goes according to plan. Ultimately it will all work itself out.
Tomorrow is a new day, and is also the expected arrival of Jason the last of our group. I have no expectations for Saturday as I have never been to a Super Bowl. But so far, I have had a blast and can't wait for Sunday.
After breakfast this morning, we added two more members of Ravens Nation to the wolfpack who are driving us through the "Redneck Rivera" on the way to Louisiana.
The last leg from Atlanta to Pensacola was rough. By that, I mean we got the very very last two seats all the way at the back of the plane. Two seats, straight back against a wall, no reclining functions, no leg room, and no window. It made taking off and landing quite interesting, as there was no perspective of where the ground was.
However we made it to Pensacola! My buddy Mike has family in the area, and his brother-in-law Aaron did us a solid and picked us up at the airport and took us downtown to a spot called Mcguire's. Great atmosphere, food and drinks. Great atmosphere, food, and drinks. Mike went for the burger, I went for the 16oz NY strip steak, and Aaron the liquid diet.
The ride continues…
While laid over in Atlanta Hartfield, stopped in the Sweet Water Brewery for some refreshments and got heckled by what I can only imagine were some disgruntled Falcons fans. Still sour from defeat, I presume. On to Pensacola after we are rehydrated, of course.
The ride continues…
Outdoor television set for the NFL Network.Mike Fast
Meekah Hopkins and friends' rented "Harbus of Destiny" (they're still working on a name) RV on the road to Louisiana.
The Baltimore Sun
posted 1:57 p.m. Friday
Fan Meekah Hopkins is chronicling her RV trip to New Orleans for bthesite.
No, she, her husband and friends aren't actually going in to the Super Bowl, but they'll be all around it thanks in large part to a mysterious Craiglist user known as "Creek" from whom they procured the "Holy Grail" of trailer spots.
Read Meekah's intro and view her photos on bthesite.
Tammy and her boyfriend Dan, ready for their 7-hour road trip.Tammy Lunkenheimer
Michael's friend Paul.Michael Weiss
Having a drink at Obrycki's bar at BWI waiting for our plane. How does a Baltimore staple like Obrycki's not serve Natty Boh?Matt Libber
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