A Southender Goes to the Super Bowl

Susan Dodds Ruder

Less than two weeks before the Big Game, we received a surprise opportunity to purchase tickets for the Super Bowl.  While the tickets held a hefty price tag, it didn’t take much for us to pull the trigger and head to Phoenix for this once in a lifetime opportunity.  On Friday, January 30, our journey began in Seattle with a direct flight to Albuquerque, where we picked up our rental car, hit the road, and landed in Surprise, AZ seven hours later at 11pm that night.  The next morning, we were up and ready to take in the sites.  Saturday was spent soaking up the events in Phoenix, including the NFL Experience – 3 levels of NFL interactive games, history and player meet and greets (though we didn’t meet anyone famous, we got a side glimpse of Cam Newton). The crowds were massive and the lines long, but still a sight to be seen. Despite the long lines and $35 entry fee, it was a compelling event.

Susan outside University of Phoenix Stadium (cite of the Super Bowl) with husband Darrin. Photo Courtesy Susan Dodds Ruder.
Susan outside University of Phoenix Stadium (site of Super Bowl 49) with husband Darrin. Photo Courtesy Susan Dodds Ruder.

Super Bowl Sunday has arrived, and my husband couldn’t contain his excitement and headed to the stadium area 3 hours before me, and 8 hours before kickoff.  The area outside the stadium was abuzz with celebration.  Around 12 pm, many of the bars and restaurants were closing early, only to re-open shortly before the game with outrageous cover charges ($100-$500 pp).  Once I arrived, we entered into the stadium area, where we were greeted with more hoopla – music, vendors, giveaways, and NFL player autograph sessions (yes, we at least managed to get Derrick Coleman’s autograph, a Seahawk fullback, and on the injured reserve).  After getting our faces painted with the Hawks logo, we finally made it into the stadium.

Once inside, we hurried quickly to our seats (100-level, 5th row,corner end zone) where we sat amongst some of player’s families. Now, it’s game time. On the Patriots first offensive drive, Tom Brady threw an interception to Jeremy Lane, directly in front of us (we just so happened to be sitting next to Jeremy’s Dad).  Although he was injured on the play, it was an incredible start, and a pivotal moment early in the game.  Interestingly, the half-time show was less impressive – and not because of Katy Perry – but instead it felt like more of a made for TV spectacular vs. for the fans in attendance. We were hoping to see more from Lenny Kravitz (a favorite), but got a nice surprise from Missy Elliott.

Susan's view of Super Bowl 49.
Susan’s view of Super Bowl 49.

Now back to the game.  An action packed spectacle with lots of back and forth play, and by the fourth quarter, we were sure we had the game in the bag.  When the Seahawks gave up the lead, we needed a miracle, and we got it with that catch by Jermaine Kearse.  But then, our optimism was short lived – and as we’ve all seen it played out in the media — a bad play call cost the Seahawks the game.  When Russell Wilson threw that interception – we were deflated — like so many other Hawks fans in attendance.

Despite the loss, and a short recovery period from our depression, it’s hard to complain.  The Hawks played a great game, they had a great season, and we went to the Super Bowl.

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