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February 3, 2008. Glendale, Arizona. Super Bowl XLII. New York Giants vs. New England Patriots.
With one minute left in the game, Giants quarterback Eli Manning hurls an improbable throw towards wide receiver David Tyree. Tyree makes an amazing one-handed catch, pinning the ball against his helmet. Four plays later, with thirty seconds left in the game, Manning throws to wide receiver Plaxico Burress.
Touchdown. Giants win.
February 5, 2012. Indianapolis, Indiana. Super Bowl XLVI. New York Giants vs. New England Patriots.
With less than four minutes left in the game, Giants quarterback Eli Manning hurls another improbable throw towards wide receiver Mario Manningham. Manningham makes an amazing catch along the sideline, somehow staying inbounds. Two minutes later, with less than a minute left in the game, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw rushes into the end zone.
Touchdown. Giants win.
The first time the Giants — my favorite professional team — won the Super Bowl (in my lifetime), it was considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history. I was at home in front of the television, and I didn’t think that football could get any better than that.
The second time, I was fortunate enough to see it in person, and I know for a fact, football doesn’t get any better than that.
When my parents offered to send me and my roommates to Indianapolis two weekends ago, it was a no-brainer to say yes. Missing work, classes, tests — none of that mattered, even to my roommates, a Chicago Bears fan and a San Francisco 49ers fan who both disliked the Giants and the Patriots and could not care less about the outcome.
Because, this wasn’t just any game. This was the Super Bowl. Even a die-hard Giants fan like myself was just as excited at the prospect of seeing celebrities and a Madonna concert.
The atmosphere in Indianapolis was electric. Thousands of people weaved their way through the streets of downtown to get to the stadium. Countless fellow Giants fans cheered and high-fived me — my roommates chose nondescript t-shirts emblazoned with “Super Bowl XLVI” — as the three of us made our way through the crowd and the various security checkpoints before entering Lucas Oil Stadium.
Consider the annual CU vs. CSU game. Despite the fact that we can almost always guarantee a Buffs win, it’s still our most intense rivalry, and games at Folsom Field don’t even compare. Now take that intensity, excitement, and amount of drunk people, and multiply it by about a thousand — that’s the Super Bowl.
It took us a while to make it down to our seats. Lucas Oil is massive, able to house 70,000 or more, and despite arriving three hours early, tons of people were already there. Players were practicing on the field,and the NBC Sports crew had their stations and desks set up. Situated on the 50-yard line in the third row, directly behind the Patriots bench, we could see almost everything.
Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco had an enormous pair of gold Beats by Dr. Dre. Eli Manning is the first person on the field for warm-ups and the last person off it. The most impressive throws, catches and field goal kicks are made in practice. The Patriots defense knows all of the words to Drake’s “The Motto,” and, in person, Tom Brady is actually the most attractive human being on the planet.
CU’s own Nate Solder, in his rookie year as a professional for the Patriots, was only about 20 feet away from us the entire game (when he wasn’t on the field). Unfortunately, he didn’t notice our yells of, “Go Buffs!”
Celebrity sightings included: 50 Cent, Meg Ryan, Glee’s Matthew Morrison, Seal, Maria Menounos, Danny DeVito and Katy Perry (who actually waved at us when we flipped out and screamed her name).
The halftime show was incredible, especially Madonna’s performance of “Like a Prayer,” accompanied by Cee Lo Green and a gospel choir. Everyone had been given a little flashlight, and the screen in the corner of the stadium directed us to shine them at the stage during the song. Goosebumps.
And then, of course, there was football. There were so many storylines hyping it up that I couldn’t keep track of all of them — a David vs. Goliath rematch, Patriots breakout star Rob Gronkowski’s injury, Eli Manning playing in the stadium ruled by his older brother Peyton, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts.
Though all of the other factors made for an unforgettable evening, that Sunday was really about the game. It more than lived up to the hype. There was never a dull moment. I remember thinking that, towards the end of the fourth quarter, when either team could win, I didn’t really care what the final score was. Obviously a Giants win was preferred, but just seeing my team in person — against the Patriots, whose current roster will go down in NFL history as one of the greatest to ever play — was more than enough.
When the final seconds ticked away and Tom Brady’s Hail Mary pass into the end zone fell to the ground, I felt the euphoria of 2008 all over again. During the plane ride later (we arrived back in Boulder at 4:30 in the morning), I kept replaying the night over and over in my mind with the knowledge that I would never experience anything like it again.
It was all of the excitement and entertainment of a football game with the added spectacle of a concert from a legend, more celebrities than an episode of E! News and the expectation of a great time held by all 68,658 in attendance. Even someone who hates the sport would have found themselves in awe under the bright lights of Lucas Oil.
“We’ve hit our peak at 19,” one of my roommates said. “It’s all downhill from here.”
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Annie Melton at Anne.email@example.com.