This is the truth – I am just an ordinary mom in Indiana, but last week I felt like a ROCK STAR! Let me explain, ESPN gave my sister Jamie, the Chief Marketing Officer of Protection 1, two tickets to the Super Bowl, as well as VIP status for private events and parties, four nights at the downtown Hyatt, and more.
Due to a last minute change of plans for her, I arrived Thursday evening and Jamie arrived Friday morning. This gave me an evening to relax and rest – I had been sick earlier in the week – so I took advantage of a quiet evening.
Friday morning she arrived at the hotel after being on the set of the Mike & Mike in the Morning Show. She met and saw several athletes – including Christian Ponder, quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. (Growing up in Minnesota, we have an affinity for the Vikings.)
That afternoon Jamie and I ventured out into the streets of Indianapolis to experience the Super Bowl Village, it was an absolutely exciting atmosphere! There were so many people, lots of energy, the spirit of the people was friendly and electric! Indy did a superb job hosting the Super Bowl ~ we experienced it and heard this over and over.
Friday evening was our first spectacular event – ESPN The Magazine’s NEXT Event. This was amazing. It was held at a huge warehouse – after being dropped off, we flashed our VIP badges and walked right in. (Super cool – just sayin’) To the right of us athletes were arriving, ESPN would flash their name (thank you for that!) and then they would be photographed, interviewed and then come into the party. I felt like I could have stood there all night – I was texting pictures to Zach, my seventeen year old, who really would have appreciated being there!! Jamie reminded me they were coming into the party – that we were at – so she coaxed me away from my spot.
Once inside, there were athletes everywhere! There were a few bars set up, a stage, a few lounge areas, and so many football players (Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, Drew Brees as well as Shaquille O’Neal and more!). It looked like there was going to a performance, so we made our way to the stage, then Cam Newton came out and introduced Drake. Truth be told, I initially had no idea who Drake was or what he sang…I texted my college daughter, figuring she would – she texted back, “WHAT. I AM SO JEALOUS.” At the end of the evening, I texted her that she definitely should not be singing the lyrics of many of his songs! This was absolutely the most over the top party I have ever experienced. Again: Surreal.
Saturday morning we were delivered to ZEST restaurant, for brunch. We walked in and were handed a berry champagne, there was a jazz band playing, tables were set and waiting for us. Jamie and I were at a table with several other women, and we made an instant and great connection with Becky & Linda – who were also enjoying the festivities courtesy of ESPN. We had an amazing appetizer with a specifically selected Pinot Gris, then an unbelievable main dish paired with a Burgundy wine that was amazing, after that we were served dessert with a raspberry liqueur. If you are ever in the Indianapolis area, this restaurant is definitely worth the stop. (Guy Fieri from the Food Newtwork agrees!)
Courtney drove down with some friends from college Saturday. They spent time in the Super Bowl Village, we took them out to lunch, they went to a concert and then headed back to school. It was so fun to be able to treat them to a little part of our experience. They were so appreciative of our time together and the little perks we showered on them.
Saturday night brought a private party at the Hard Rock Cafe. This was a definite rock star moment. There was the red carpet, security guards with the entrance blocked off. We walked up, flashed our badges, security moved the barricades back, and we walked in…and were handed a cocktail as soon as we entered. I turned around, looked at Jamie and said, “OK, That was a very cool moment.” Our new friends, Linda and Becky had arrived earlier and had a great table where we joined them. Landau Eugene Murphy, last year’s winner of America’s Got Talent, (he sings like Frank Sinatra) was the entertainment that evening – he was incredible! This party was filled with NFL players – again, I was getting pictures and sending text messages to my family – asking Kevin and Zach, “Who’s this?!” Poor them – they would have appreciated it on a whole other level, although I have to say, I knew I was experiencing a once in a lifetime evening and was appreciating it and taking it all in.
Sunday morning brought ESPN Audio Presents: Brunch with a Legend. This was a wonderful meal and an interview as well as Q & A session with Michael Vick, Cam Newton and Matt Stafford. (Quarterbacks for the Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, & the Detroit Lions) I texted with Zach during parts of this – I was hoping to ask a question of Cam on behalf of Zach, but didn’t get the opportunity. I really enjoyed this time as Zach talks about these players and now I feel more informed (Cam Newton is authentic, funny and so good natured) and will pay more attention when he is talking about them!
After the brunch, we relaxed for a bit in our room and then made our way to the ESPN Tailgate Party at Conseco Field House – where there were more football players hanging out, playing basketball and being gracious. There were more bars set up, more amazing food, and we were with our new friends Linda and Becky. At this event, I was strategic – I got a little kid, about 13 years old, to point out the players, tell me who they were and who they played for – then I got pictures and autographs! Zach said to be honest, he wasn’t so sure he would recognize and identify all the players without their jerseys. I’m not sure that’s true, he quickly identified the players for which I was sending pictures, but thanks for that Zach!
After the Tailgate party, we finally made our way over to the Super Bowl! We had wonderful seats, it was a great game, and again this surreal feeling came over me. The environment was electric the whole time, the crowd was so loud and we spent half the game on our feet! Did you see us? We were the ones with flashlights during the half-time show! We finally made our way back to our hotel after the game, made a stop at the post-game party given by ESPN, said good-bye to our new friends from California, Becky and Linda and dropped into our beds. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.
Now that I have shared What We Did, my next post will be about how it felt, some of my favorite moments, and my perspective on living like this for a weekend. My word count is up for today – so I’ll see you back here soon!