Hey there, BGN. Here’s the fifth and final entry of my 2018 Super Bowl Diary. Better late than never, I hope.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2
Friday was a catch-up day for me. It was the first day since arriving in Minnesota that I didn’t have to be anywhere for Eagles media availability. I got around to some BGN site stuff that I couldn’t get to earlier in the week. I also enjoyed not having to deal with the cold.
That is, until I went out for dinner on Friday night. I asked BGN alumnus Jimmy Kempski if he wanted to grab a bite to eat, but he said he was too big time for me. (Just kidding, he already had dinner. Or so he says!)
So I ended up Lyfting to a spot called the Blue Door Pub (3448 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406). After writing about how I tried a Juicy Lucy from 5-8 club, multiple Minnesotans reached out to tell me I needed to try this place instead.
On my way over, my driver and I had a conversation about how people there just get used to the cold. And about how they love the lakes there. (It’s called the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’ for a reason.) The topic of Minnesota sports came up. We talked about the Vikings a little bit and how he goes to the gym with Andrew Wiggins’ father. Apparently Mitchell Wiggins is just like any other dad who thinks the head coach could be doing a better job of playing his son more often.
I arrived at the Blue Door Pub to find myself in a neighborhood. Take a look for yourself:
For reference, this place is a mere 10-minute ride from downtown Minneapolis.
I walked inside the cozy joint and waited for a seat. I was eventually offered a spot at a long table, which I immediately took since I was hungry. The seating situation was interesting because I was sitting directly next to two different couples. Two young ladies were sitting next to me and their boyfriends were directly across the table from them.
Awkwardness aside, I ordered an appetizer of Spam Bites (Spam, pickles, and cream cheese in a crunchy potato chip - panko mix. Served with sweet chili lime) and a main course of a Bacon Blucy burger. The appetizer was light on spam and heavy on cream cheese, which was preferable to me. The Bacon Blucy burger was pretty solid. Overall, this place was worth visiting.
After finishing up, I caught a Lyft back to the hotel. Oddly enough, my driver was a Bucks County native (Doylestown, Pennsylvania) who has been living in Minnesota for the past 22 years. We had a good chat about how life differs from back home. Once again, the topic of Minnesota’s lakes came up.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3
My Friday night Lyft driver convinced me that I needed to try the Jucy Lucy burgers at Matt’s Bar, so I woke up early on Saturday in order to do just that. I wasn’t going to let the first snowfall I’d experienced since I arrived stop me.
I took a ride to Matt’s and thankfully got an open stool at the bar. Matt’s is interesting because they don’t have a kitchen. It’s just one dude cooking all the burgers on a stove-top in the corner of the room. He was chatting up the long line of customers that started to form about five minutes after I got my seat. “If you want spelling, you can go to the other place,” he said, referring to how 5-8 Club calls their burgers the “Juicy Lucy.”
My order at Matt’s: a Jucy Lucy (notice the intentional misspelling), a double cheeseburger, and a basket of fries. I had finished about 20% of my fries before my waitress took a look, dumped them, and gave me a new basket. “Those were too cold. Here’s a fresh batch.” I could really get used to this ‘Minnesota nice’ thing.
As far as the burgers go, I actually liked the double cheeseburger better than the Jucy Lucy. Not that the Jucy Lucy is bad ... I just think the double cheeseburger is more practical. Ever since watching a Man V. Food special on the Jucy Lucy, I was always excited to try it. But I think there’s a good reason it hasn’t caught on elsewhere in the country. Again, it’s not that it’s bad. It’s just that the classic method doesn’t need to be altered.
Satisfied with my lunch experience, I left Matt’s and got a ride back home. My driver mentioned Minnesota’s lakes (that makes four-for-four) and also got into some Vikings talk. “Did any of the guys who the Eagles got with picks from the Sam Bradford trade sack Case Keenum?” he asked me. I told him about the Derek Barnett strip-sack in the NFC Championship Game, to which he sighed. He was a good sport, though. We then talked about what the Vikings should do with their quarterback situation. It’s going to be genuinely interesting to see what happens with that.
I got back to the hotel and had a nice chat with my friend Joe Santoliquito. We were talking about the potential plans for the Eagles’ parade. Looking back now, I almost thought that conversation happened after Philly won the Super Bowl. But nope. That’s just the confidence a number of people had going into Sunday’s game.
After returning to my room, I wrote my “Brian Dawkins is going to the Hall of Fame” and “Doug Pederson got snubbed for Coach of the Year” articles.
Then I spent the rest of Saturday night resting up for Sunday, which was bound to be the biggest day of my life.
All of our lives, really.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4
I couldn’t sleep.
I woke up around 4:00 AM CT on Super Bowl Sunday and started to watch the training montage and fight scenes from Rocky and Rocky II. No, I totally wasn’t getting emotional and tearing up.
I got ready for the day and left my hotel to shuttle over to the Mall of America. From there, I caught a shuttle to the site of the Super Bowl itself: U.S. Bank Stadium. After arriving outside the stadium, we had to wait on the bus for a good hour or so since it was too cold to wait in the long line outside. But that’s what we ended up having to do anyway. Look, I’m not trying to complain about the opportunity to cover the Super Bowl, but I think it’s fair to say Minnesota isn’t the most ideal Super Bowl host site.
The security at the Super Bowl is unsurprisingly very tight. You get frisked, you get scanned, you get sniffed (by a bomb detection dog), and you even get analyzed by a facial recognition computer. Pretty intense.
After going through all the layers of security, I made my way to my seat. The view wasn’t bad.
I wasn’t even there a full five minutes before I heard a loud “E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!” chant. This was more than three hours before the game began at 5:30 PM CT. The stands weren’t even close to being filled yet but you could already tell this was going to be an Eagles crowd.
More evidence of this was apparent when Brian Westbrook was introduced to the stadium prior to the game and he led a loud Eagles chant. Here’s what the scene looked like.
Live from Super Bowl LII! #FlyEaglesFlyPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Sunday, February 4, 2018
Soon it was time for the pregame festivities. Pink did a great job with the National Anthem. The Eagles looked super fired up coming out to Meek Mill. The Patriots put everyone to sleep by coming out to Crazy Train.
Then it was kickoff time. At this point I just couldn’t wait for actual football to be played. Looking back now, the game feels like a blur. It was certainly a lot of fun watching live, although sometimes you can’t beat the television angles. I couldn’t see exactly what was going on with the Philly Special as it happened, for example. But that was part of the magic. The crowd was pretty cool throughout because both teams were both well-represented. There would be loud cheers for anytime either side did something, which is unlike any game I’ve ever been too.
The halftime show was nothing to write about. Wait, dammit. Let’s just say it would’ve been better if the rest of *NSYNC was there.
The second half of the game held the juice from the first half. The biggest play of the night, undoubtedly, was Brandon Graham’s strip-sack. You just knew Tom Brady was going to drive down the field after Zach Ertz scored that touchdown and the Patriots got the ball back. The reaction to Graham’s big play and Derek Barnett’s subsequent fumble recovery was incredible. It was like the stadium collectively gasped all at once. It was shocking. The entire Eagles sideline was going nuts. Personally, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So naturally I put my hands on SB Nation’s NFL editor, Ryan Van Bibber (RVB, who was sitting next to me. I started shaking him vigorously while yelling “OH MY GOD!!! OH MY GOD!!!”
Soon enough, the Eagles officially clinched the win following Brady’s final incompletion. I sat there and held my head in my hands. I didn’t cry because I still didn’t believe it. The Eagles had really just won the Super Bowl. The midnight green confetti and the celebration from the players didn’t lie. Neither did BGN Radio’s postgame video.
EAGLES WIN THE SUPER BOWL BGN Radio walks to Broad St!Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Sunday, February 4, 2018
After the clock hit zero, I went to Twitter to go scorched earth on the people who guaranteed the Eagles wouldn’t beat the Patriots. Then I did some work for BGN and found myself staring down at the Eagles’ post-game Super Bowl ceremony from time to time. I also found myself checking my phone to read all the texts from friends and family.
RVB returned from the locker room and we headed to the media workroom building next to the stadium. We did some more postgame work there before catching the shuttle back to the hotel. I was so tired at this point.
Funny enough, Pats Pulpit manager Rich Hill ended up being on my bus. He was very gracious in defeat and congratulated me on the win. Not so gracious in defeat was Tom Brady, who didn’t shake Nick Foles’ hand after the game.
The bus got back to the hotel at like 2:30 AM CT. As I was laying down in bed, I couldn’t help but think about my Aunt Gloria and my cousin Justin. Most of my relatives aren’t super interested in sports (or at least as much as I am), but Aunt Glo and Justin were the two biggest Eagles fans in my family. Aunt Glo died in 2015 after multiple battles with breast cancer and Justin was killed in a 2016 car accident. I went to sleep hoping they knew the Eagles won.
I can’t help but feel like they did.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5
Monday was set to be real interesting since I had to balance getting BGN work done along with trying to fly back home from Minnesota. I got about three hours of sleep, did some work, and checked out of the hotel around 10:30 AM CT to shuttle over to the Minnesota airport. I figured I’d do some more work before my 4:08 PM CT flight took off for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. From there I was scheduled to have another layover in Chicago before arriving in Philadelphia at midnight.
Well, that didn’t quite work out. Minutes before getting on my flight for Iowa, I was told my connecting flights home were cancelled due to snow. (Again, please, no more cold weather Super Bowl host cities.)
Thankfully Vox Media’s Sarah Heilman was able to help save me by booking a new set of flights that departed Minnesota around 8:35 PM CT. Due to my anxiety and exhaustion, I wasn’t able to get as much site work done as I wish I could’ve. (Sorry about that.) I tried to kill some of the time by recording BGN Radio Episode 300 with John Barchard and James Seltzer but naturally the audio got corrupted. So clearly I was having a great day.
I caught my first flight and landed in Kalamazoo, Michigan about 30 minutes before midnight (back to Eastern time now). I really didn’t know Kalamazoo was a real place.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6
I spent most of the night in the airport by myself. I was pretty tired but I didn’t want to sleep because I was afraid I might somehow miss my next flight. Not to mention I was worried someone would steal my stuff. Even though I was alone.
I killed some time by doing a Facebook live video in the middle of the night.
Middle of the night Eagles talk: Stranded in KalamazooPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Tuesday, February 6, 2018
My flight for Detroit, Michigan was scheduled to take off at 5:30 AM ET. Due to the plane needing to be de-iced, though, we didn’t take off until some time after 6:00 AM ET. I was starting to panic about missing my 7:10 AM ET connection to Philadelphia.
Sure enough, we arrived in Detroit and I flat out sprinted to my gate across the airport only to find out the plane JUST finished boarding. Ugh. The Delta representative at the gate booked me for a 10:30 AM ET flight home instead. And so I spent the longest three hours of my life just waiting to catch a flight back home.
Thankfully my final flight home didn’t experience any delays. A number of Eagles fans were making their way back to Philly along with me. There was loud cheering and applause after the flight announced the Birds as Super Bowl champions.
And so my plane touched down around noon at the Philadelphia airport. I smiled upon seeing the Philly sky line. I was tired as hell, for sure, but I thought to myself:
“How bad can anything really be if the Eagles won the Super Bowl?”
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7
This was a big recovery day for me.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8
I walked up to the Ben Franklin Parkway with James Seltzer around 6:45 AM ET on Thursday morning. On our way over, he kept saying “I can’t believe we’re walking to a Super Bowl parade.” He said it about 10 times, which might be annoying in other circumstances (just kidding - love you James), but it certainly wasn’t in this case.
As we started to get closer, we kept seeing more and more Eagles fans. The energy and excitement was slowly building.
We made it to a position along the route itself where SportsRadio 94WIP was stationed for the day. James and I hung out on the second floor deck of TGI Friday’s overlooking the route. People were already lining up for the parade even though it was super early and super cold thanks to the freezing wind chill. But no amount of cold could damper this truly special day. It was just so awesome to see everyone so happy and unified around this shared interest.
People already lining up for the Eagles Super Bowl Parade!Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Thursday, February 8, 2018
(Someone even recognized James and I and shouted up to us. If that was you, let me know!)
A few highlights I experienced during and after the parade:
Lots of “Big Dick Nick” chants here early at the #Eagles Super Bowl Parade.— Brandon LII Gowton (@BrandonGowton) February 8, 2018
The Lombardi Trophy is here! pic.twitter.com/VT9n4IU6M4— Brandon LII Gowton (@BrandonGowton) February 8, 2018
“Fuck Tom Brady” chants ringing out in the streets of Philly following the #EaglesParade.— Brandon LII Gowton (@BrandonGowton) February 8, 2018
I left the parade route after it passed and I got to see Carson Wentz hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. (Gosh, what a sight.) I walked down to John Barchard’s house to see the Art Museum speeches. John and I were obviously going nuts as were watching Jason Kelce’s epic rant. That moment truly put the perfect bow on the Eagles’ Super Bowl experience.
Having been in Minnesota when it happened, I felt like the Eagles’ Super Bowl win hadn’t fully set in for me. That changed a little when I saw everyone lining up for the parade. I just remember looking out onto the crowd of people and smiling.
Due to the nature of my job, I’m not sure if I fully enjoy the Eagles winning in the same way I used to when it wasn’t work. I think I get more enjoyment now out of seeing everyone else be happy about the Birds. That might sound cheesy or hard to understand, but I think it’s true.
In any case, I’m super grateful to everyone that reads BGN and listens to BGN Radio. I wouldn’t have been able to cover the Eagles’ Super Bowl win without you.
Part of the intention of this Super Bowl diary series was to make it feel like you were there with me. I hope you enjoyed it!