We first arrived at the Downtown Ramada in Denver on Friday evening after filling up on Swedish meatballs and Lingonberries at the brand spankin' new IKEA in Centennial, CO. It was immediately clear we were deep behind enemy lines as every other person we encountered was decked out in a #15 jersey. While my full suit o' Pats fandom wouldn't be fully revealed until Sunday, I did get plenty of pointed looks on account of my monolithic Patriots duffel bag. Even the front desk guy would shout "It's Tebow Time, my friend" every time I walked past to grab a new piece of luggage. This was going to be fun.
On Saturday we did some obligatory touristy stuff, while stopping at the Coors Brewery in Golden, CO for a free pick-me-up:
...and later stopped by the Celestial Seasonings factory to stock up on some delicious teas. I tried to carefully choose flavors that would enhance or inhibit my mood depending on the final outcome of Sunday's game:
Then comes game day! The moment we have all been patiently waiting for. Luckily, our hotel offered free shuttle service to pretty much anywhere in Downtown Denver. We totally lucked out since we selected a Travelocity "Top Secret" hotel where you only find out your hotel AFTER you book and pay. We couldn't have been happier with the end result. I had a tailgate date arranged with the fine people of Pikes Peak Pats, an officially sanctioned Patriots fan club headquartered in Colorado Springs. Incredible. Authentic New England clam chowder, Whoopie Pies, steak, chicken, Dunkin coffee/donuts, and a million Pats fans from all over the country:
And that was at 10 a.m. We probably had another hundred or so people show up as the afternoon dragged in. And what's this?! A special guest?!? That's right, Robert Kraft even stopped by for a few minutes and gave us all one of the neatest pre-game speeches I've ever heard. I have a video of it on my girlfriend's phone, but can't seem to get it on here. Needless to say, we were all super pumped. Shout out to all the awesome Pats fans at PPP and to Bob Kraft for being the greatest owner in all of professional sports.
We shuffled over to the game and found our (frickin' awesome) seats. Section 131, Row 19, Seats 19 and 20. I love the end zone seats. Beautiful day, too—not cold at all, nice sunshine. We were all overdressed. There were various Pats fans sprinkled over our section who we quickly bonded with—and bit our nails with during the entire first quarter. Needless to say, the stadium was rocking. After the storm was weathered and the Broncos came back to Earth and Brady was Brady, we had a little cheer going with our overwhelming minority of red, white and blue which irritated all of the "hydrated" orange-and-bluers around.
I will say this and I HATE to bring up this subject on a blog, but it needs to be said. Broncos fans—for whatever reason—are THE most hostile fans I have ever encountered in any sport. It was like that in '09 and it remained the same this year. We were quickly targeted by folks in front of us, next to us, and 6 rows down because we were Pats fans. The older couple in front of us were irritated that "season ticket holders sell their tickets to fans of other teams" and that they had to hear us cheer for the opposition all game. The folks next to us called over event staff 3-4 times for dumb reasons regarding the Pats fans below us—standing up, "too many people in seats"—just doing everything they could to get them kicked out for no good reason. Mile High is one of my favorite places to watch an NFL game, but it always leaves a bad taste in my mouth with the really crappy fans. I've met many a great Broncos fan and I know there are people like this on both sides of the coin, but my experience proves to again be typical for this stadium. We had the last laugh, however, and with a little liquid courage tried to make it as difficult as possible for the hecklers and naysayers giving us crap all game. No insults, no violence, just deafening cheering and maniacal high-fiving.
Great to finally see Brady and Co. deliver in such a tough place to play, finally. It's an absolute treat to see this offensive juggernaut in person, as I have had the privilege of seeing several times. If it looks impressive on a television screen, it's about tenfold live.
A few more pre-, post and during-game pictures:
Thanks for reading, guys!