The Super Bowl is similar to the Olympics, in that you have athletes, actors, entertainers and fans alike all housed in one location. People descend upon the city in droves for the game, the parties and the fun. It’s a place conducive for networking with business partners and meeting new friends alike. While the game of football brings spectators to the city, there is a lot that goes on outside of the venue, both before and after the game. Multi-media companies and agencies, such as ESPN, Maxim, Esquire and CAA host parties, where access is granted by invitation-only. At the Esquire party, Little Wayne performed; at ESPN it was Cee Lo who took center stage. We hit the ESPN party on Friday night and danced well into the early morning hours. I looked down at my watch at 3:30am (and then realized it was Central time, and that I had almost been up a full 24-hours, as Whitney and I had an early flight out of Baltimore that morning). With star athletes, such as Lolo Jones, Emmitt Smith and Donovan McNabb (who is hilarious!) and sportscasters, such as Sage Steele, the place was buzzing and was still rocking when we left in the early morning hours.
The day of the game we were up and walking the city. Doug stayed at the hotel to listen to a panel discussion with Troy Aikman, while Whitney and I set out on foot for one last lap around the city. We stopped at an incredible café called Envie, strolled through an open air French Market and walked up Bourbon Street (which had people in the bars rallying for the game, as we were sipping our chicory and latte. We ran into some friends while walking back to the hotel. The city has a small feel to it, as we bumped into several friends over the course of the weekend while “out and about.”
Mom arrived safely from Chicago and without a snow delay. We met in the lobby, decked out in purple and Raven’s gear, all wearing Mardi Gras beads either in purple or with an obscenely large “Ravens” medallion dangling from the bottom.
I watched both play-off games from the comforts of the couch at home, wearing the same outfit for both games. Prior to the Denver game, I wore my Ray Lewis “Welcome to Baltimore” shirt to yoga and got some questionable looks – yoga is peaceful, football is not. I didn’t wear it during class, but did put it on after class and wore it the rest of the day in support of the Ravens. And they won. So, I wore it the following week when we played the Patriots. And we won. I wore the same shirt with a super comfy pair of Under Armour athletic pants and a double-breasted sweatshirt cardigan. I seriously thought about wearing that whole ensemble to the Super Bowl (why change it when it works… very superstitious. I mean, we sat in the same seats at the Olympics -- Whitney on the right of Mom and I on the left). Rather than going super casual, I stuck with the shirt, added a blazer and wore jeans instead of sweats.
We walked to the stadium, which was only a few blocks from our hotel and checked in for the NFL tailgate, where they had different vendors with complementary food and drinks for the tailgate attendees. Playing adjacent to the tailgate was Matchbox 20, who played songs such as “Bent” and “3am” and sound incredible playing live.
We were in our seats to see both Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys perform. When the Sandy Hook children sang, there were many a tear in the crowd and a thunderous applause when they finished. Kick-off happened and the final play showed the Ravens as the winner. We had a large number of San Fran fans around us, so by the end of the game, we were the only ones in the section. Michael went onto the field to congratulate the players; Whitney, Mom, Jeff, Doug and I walked back to the hotel, all beaming from ear to ear. We were all thrilled that Ray Lewis could retire with his second Super Bowl Ring. It’s always great to end your career on a high note and on the top of your game.
There was an official Ravens celebration party, but 2/3 of us skipped out on the party and opted for bed. After hearing that Ray Lewis did “the Squirrel” (the name of his famous dance) with Mary J Blige onstage, we were sorry that we missed it!
On Tuesday, the city of Baltimore welcomed the team back to their city with a parade and a ceremony at M&T Bank stadium. What seemed like the entire city came out to welcome the World Champions home, with a heroes welcome. Mr. Biscotti, the Raven’s team owner, said that they hadn’t anticipated such a large turnout, and had to open the top deck to accommodate more fans. Eventually, they had to close the gates and turn away the late arrivals. With 70,000 fans in the seats and an additional 7,000 on the field, the stadium was the loudest it’s ever been in the Ravens’ 17-year history. (See videos on You Tube here).
What started out as a strong year, followed by injury and tough losses, ended on the highest note possible. The Ravens brought the Lombardi trophy back to their city, to cap off a fabulous year for Baltimore sports and athletes. Until August, when Baltimore hosts the first game of the NFL season, football is officially over, at least for a few months. Now, it’s onto Fashion Week for this girl!