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.
There are no words, but I still wrote 700
Confetti falls during the post-game ceremonies.
posted 1:14 p.m. Tuesday
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.
Here we are
posted 6:53 a.m. Monday
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.
posted 3:06 p.m. Sunday
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!
Living like a local, playing like a Raven
There were a few pockets of San Francisco fans here and there, but this town is truly painted purple!
posted 8:38 a.m. Sunday
As far as road trips go, our trek from Texas to the Big Easy was smooth sailing once we hit the highway. We were greeted with waves from other Ravens fans traveling east along I-10 and even posed for a few pictures with some Niners fans at a gas station. We added my dad, Don, visiting from Florida along for the ride, and the four of us had a relaxing trip.
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!
In the belly of the beast
posted 8:59 p.m. Saturday
On Bourbon street. Enough said.
Where else would you rather be?
posted 8:39 p.m. Saturday
After checking into to the hotel, it was time to go out on the town. I have been to New Orleans before, but I have never seen it like this. Ravens Nation was out in full force at dusk when I arrived.
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.
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.
Next stop, New Orleans
posted 12:00 p.m. Saturday
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…
Angry birds flying through Atlanta
posted 8:01 p.m. Friday
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…
Already biting my nails — and that was just the plane ride
posted 4:12 p.m. Friday
I am a third-year medical student with an intense love for the Ravens. I have never been to a Super Bowl and cannot wait to share this experience through this fan blog.
I'm also proud I was able to help grow Ravens Nation this Super Bowl-year by converting my Floridian girlfriend into a purple-and-black-bleeding Ravens fan!
This week the time has gone extra slow for me as I counted down the seconds until I could embark on this journey. I read just about every article and watched every interview I could find. I am still in a state of euphoria. I cannot believe we made it to the big game! Somedays I still wonder if I am totally dreaming.
Last night I checked the local weather in the Big Easy and saw all I needed was some shorts and every single Ravens item I owned. I would be traveling in my Ray Lewis jersey for Purple Friday.
This morning I fit right in at BWI, which was a sea of purple. Fans of all ages and from different states were all dressed in purple. There was a sense of excitement in the air that only a team like the Ravens could produce.
The flight to Charlotte was a little nerve-wracking. Our plane ended up sitting on the tarmac due to snow and de-icing. I was terrified my family and I would miss our connection to Mobile, Alabama. Finally, after one of the most nail-biting hours of my life, we were on our way.
Upon landing in Charlotte, we realized we only had several minutes to catch our next flight. There were Ravens fans everywhere going to southern Mississippi, the Florida panhandle and other Gulf locales.
Just after checking in to my New Orleans hotel I saw the ravens cheerleaders outside. I am so fired up. Time to hit the town!
If any culture had to be defined in a city, it would be New Orleans. Music, horse-drawn carriages, genuinely friendly people and really nice weather for January 31. Although I was walking all day, it wasn't that bad.
As I stepped off the plane and into the terminal, I was warmly greeted with a smile and some (purple) beads.
After a very fast cab ride into the city, I had my first (catfish) po boy at the Royal House. Sitting at a corner table on the balcony, I got a 270-degree view of downtown New Orleans.
After that, I walked a few blocks east to Jackson Square, where ESPN, NFL Network and CBS had all set up shop. It was very exciting to see such a concentration of celebrities and sports figures within two blocks.
The fans that I saw was roughly 60/40 in favor of the Ravens. It's still early. A lot more people will be arriving tomorrow.
I can't wait for this game to start.
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.
Tammy and her boyfriend Dan, ready for their 7-hour road trip.
posted 12:29 p.m. Friday
Today is the day! We leave San Antonio for New Orleans tonight. Let the packing commence!
Ed Reed jersey? Check. Ray Rice jersey? Check. Assorted Ravens T-shirts? Check. Lucky purple underwear? Check. Maryland flag socks? Check. Both pair of Ravens earrings (in case one gets lost)? Check. Everything else I own that is purple? Check! Well gee that sure was easy!
I am even tossing in our Ravens banner and flag off of the front of the house so we can display it proudly on the porch railing of the home we rented in New Orleans for the weekend. My finger nails and toe nails are painted sparkly Ravens purple and the car is washed and ready to sport our game day flags. Babysitting and house sitting arrangements are in place.
My boyfriend Dan is keeping careful guard over our Super Bowl tickets, which he has lovingly dubbed "The Golden Tickets", causing me to hear the song from the Willy Wonka movie every time I see them in their protective plastic zipper bag! (Yes, I will admit to taking them out every few hours just to look. Pinch me!)
All that is left is to load some tailgating snacks and beer into the cooler and pick my sister Tanya up from the airport when her flight gets here from Las Vegas and we will be off! It is going to be a trip of a lifetime. We are going to the Super Bowl baby! Let the adventure begin!
Happy Purple Friday! Go Ravens!
Taking the scenic route
Michael's friend Paul.
posted 11:38 a.m. Friday
Leaving Maryland now. Taking Gulf Coast scenic tour to get there.
Flying from Dulles to Pensacola today, driving to New Orleans tomorrow, staying in Baton Rouge Saturday and Sunday, flying out of Houston back to Dulles on Monday.
So, getting to NOLA will be an adventure unto itself. My brother and I made flight arrangements prior to the New England game but no one else in our group planned that far ahead.
Even with quasi-advance planning I still have to fly to Jackson, Miss., by way of Houston, and then drive to the Big Easy. It's only about a 2 1/2 hour drive, but a drive nonetheless. On my flight with me is my brother and my dad. My dad was a late addition to the trip after we came upon two extra tickets.
Our tickets are a separate story that requires a thank you to a undisclosed person who helped us get face value tickets. (You know who you are and we can't thank you enough). My dad will actually be in the South until Tuesday because he couldn't find a way home on Monday. So if you live in Jackson, Miss., and want to hang out with with a 60-year-old Ravens fan, let me know and I'll put you to in touch. Sorry, ladies, he is married.
The rest of our group, my good friends Will and Jason, are coming in on their own. Will is flying in from a company sales meeting in St Louis and will actually arrive in NOLA before I do. During the NE game he looked at his wife and said, "Sorry but I won't be home for a few weeks." By the way, she is pregnant with their second child (so is my sister-in-law for that matter).
In the past week, Will has seen some of the highest and lowest points of his life. Last Thursday, Will's grandfather passed away. Will was very close to his grandfather and took the news pretty hard. Then Friday morning Mike called Will with news that would lift his spirits, face value super bowl tickets. Will shed tears for a whole new reason on this day, tears of joy.
It was an emotional roller coaster for Will, a week he surely won't forget. Last night I received a text from Will stating "the owner of [my company] is encouraging us to take the company RV (they have an awesome RV to tailgate for Rams games and were gracious hosts to us last year, thank you Buckeye International) and drive to New Orleans for the game." He said things were getting crazy and he would let me know what happened. Fortunately for them, responsible minded people prevailed and the trip never started. Will is on a flight now to New Orleans with rough hangover but promised that he packed his "drinking shoes" and a good time would await my arrival.
Jason, the last of our group is still a question mark. We know he is coming but not sure when he will actually arrive. I think it is Saturday but you never know with him. He may have been down there for a week already. He is the one we need to keep an eye on. His quiet demeanor is deceiving. Several years ago in Nashville, for the Ravens playoff game against the Titans,we lost Jason for several hours. We always know he will eventually show up but you never know what will happen when he is around.
As I write this Thursday evening, the plane is passing Atlanta so I am half way to Houston. The plane is half full of Ravens fans including a high school classmate of mine from Archbishop Curley. It's such a small world when you're from Smalltimore.
More to come on the road to a Super Bowl title.
One for the road
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?
I am a Baltimore native living in Canton and a Ravens PSL owner in section 141. I am the VP of Business Development at Elite Tournaments.
I am traveling to the Super Bowl with my brother Mike, father Mike Sr., and two friends Will and Jason.
With the exception of my father, we are all PSL owners and tailgate together for home games. We also typically tend to travel to at least one Ravens away game each year as a group. I am heading to New Orleans on Thursday and staying through Monday.
From just soaking it in to *gasp* getting in
posted 10:06 p.m. Wednesday
As a Ravens fan living outside of Maryland, in San Antonio, Texas, I don't often have the opportunity to party with the rest of the Ravens Nation. The second the clock ticked down on the Patriots and we took the AFC Championship, I knew we would be driving to New Orleans.
I just wanted to be there to soak up the Ravens love and the magic of "The Show". When I randomly stumbled on the opportunity to actually purchase tickets to the Super Bowl (insert choirs of angels singing here!) without completely depleting our emergency fund, all the stars aligned.
Today our tickets finally arrived. All morning was spent on pins and needles stalking the FedEx guy. I very nearly hugged him when he finally knocked on my door! The tickets are here!
They have not left my side and I know I have peeked in the envelope at least a dozen times just to make sure they are still there. I am pinching myself that this displaced Ravens fan living in Texas is going to see Flacco, Rice, Suggs, Pitta, Lewis, Tucker, Reed and company play in the biggest and best football showdown, The World Championship game! Just four more sleeps! Go Ravens!
A homecoming of many sorts for twentysomething expat
I grew up in Baltimore City, the same rowhouse my whole life and my mom still lives there. I loved urban life and still do. I was and am a huge Orioles fan, and I remember arguing with my friends who got to be Cal Ripken when we played baseball in the parking lot.
When the Ravens came to town, my dad and I were very quick to adopt them as our team, as it seems much of Baltimore was. That first Super Bowl for the Ravens was a lot of fun, although I was only 11 at the time. I remember the ride home on Light street after having watched the big game, and hearing just everything honking and cheering!
Throughout college (I attended Wake Forest University) I watched every Ravens game with a group of other Baltimore transplants. I loved how strong Baltimore fandom was even this far from Baltimore. It's such a great sense of pride to have, banding together from a city known to many outsiders as the drug-ravaged city from HBO's "The Wire."
When I graduated two years ago, I moved to New Orleans for a girl and a job...the job, at least, worked out really well. Living in New Orleans, the Saints spirit among the city was quite strong, having recovered from a major hurricane 5 years prior and coming off a Super Bowl win the year before I got there.
Admittedly, I became a bit of a Saints fan. There wasn't too much of a conflict since the Ravens and Saints only play each other once every four years, or if they meet in the Super Bowl. I was certainly rooting for the Ravens when I went to the game in December of 2010. In New Orleans I still watched every Ravens game and even managed to arrange trips back home to Baltimore around home games so I could go see a few in person.
This past summer, I found out my job wanted me to move to Amsterdam. Being only 23 years old and asked to relocate to an amazing European city, I jumped at the opportunity. I would miss New Orleans a lot, and was particularly bummed that I would be missing the festivities of a Super Bowl in my own city.
Amsterdam has been incredible, and I have still been able to watch every Ravens game late at night here thanks to NFL Game Pass. As the Ravens entered the playoffs, I warned my manager that there would be a slight chance I'll need to take off in the beginning of February to go see my American Football team if they make it to their championship game. But with the manner that the Ravens ended the season, I didn't see the chances of the Ravens making it to the Super Bowl as very high. I even picked against them in my playoff bracket (shameful).
When the Patriots game ticked down to 00:00, I immediately contacted all of my friends from high school: "I'm booking flights to New Orleans, are you coming too?"
It took a lot of coordination and a particularly generous amount of help from a close family friend, but I now have round-trip tickets to New Orleans for a long weekend from Amsterdam, and a ticket to my first live Super Bowl.
I could not be more excited. A reunion weekend for my Park School friends and I, staying with some friends I made during my life in New Orleans, getting to see our home team play in the Super Bowl.
I'm hoping to give everyone a run for their money in the "farthest traveled to be at the Super Bowl" story.