When the Giants were last in the Super Bowl, the year was 2001 and they were up against the surprising Baltimore Ravens. My Ravens had won their last seven regular season games to finish 12-4 and secured a Wild Card slot. In the playoffs, they trounced the Denver Broncos at home, then took care of business with a suffocating defense that will be considered one of the best in NFL history by going on the road and upsetting the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders to reach the Big Game. In Super Bowl 35, the Ravens crushed the NY Giants 34-7 and were crowned World Champs.
I was at that game, attending with my brother-in-law, Jeff. Season ticket holders since the Ravens came to Baltimore, we promised each other that we'd go if they ever made it. Once they defeated the Raiders and were definitely in, I bought a Super Bowl package for us that included air, hotel and rental car,...but not tickets. I told Jeff that in 1998, I flew to Florida with my 10 year old son, Brandon, to stay with my in-laws over Super Bowl weekend. We rented a car and then drove to the Miami, parked and began looking for tickets. Refusing to pay a significant premium for a game between the Broncos and Falcons, We enjoyed the festivities outside the stadium and waited for the right opportunity. We made up two signs, both saying "Need 2 Tickets," but one saying "Go Broncos" and the other "Go Falcons!" Everyone laughed seeing us hold up one sign or the other, depending on who was walking by at that moment. Even CNN interviewed us, and around 90 minutes before kickoff, we were approached by someone wanting to unload two end zone seats for just over face value. We grabbed them, called everyone we knew to tell them we were in, and entered the stadium. It was a decent game, but best of all, we snuck down to the lower level sideline seats in the fourth quarter, sat in Cameron Diaz' seats (unfortunately she was long gone), saw a bunch of stars, including comedian Chris Rock, and loved the entire experience.
For the Ravens-Giants Super Bowl, I promised Jeff if we were patient, we'd find last minute tickets. Jeff and I hung out at the Ravens team hotel, had a great time meeting Magic Johnson, Hank Aaron, Brian Jordan and others. We went to the local bar that was hosting the Ravens fans all weekend with signs saying "Will Trade Wives for 2 Tickets," and was immediately put on local TV, to which my wife heard about the signs from all her friends and didn't find them funny at all. Tickets were being scalped at both places for $3000 apiece and while we were crazy, we weren't that stupid!
Finally about three hours before kickoff, we went to the stadium and began looking around for "bargains." Around an hour before the game started a stadium vendor came up to us and offered to sneak us into the stadium dressed as a vendor for $600, but we would't have a seat. Jeff went for it and within a couple of minutes, was yelling at me to find a way in to join him. I walked all around the grounds with another sign and finally was approached by a guy who had one end zone seat that he wanted to sell for $1500. Figuring this might be my only chance, I paid him and headed back to the entrance. All of a sudden it hit me that I had just spent $1500 on one ticket to a football game and started feeling really stupid and guilty. As I walked, I held up my ticket and vowed that if I could get $2500 for it, I would abandon Jeff and watch the game from a local bar. I was offered up to $2300 but finally reached the gate and waited a little bit longer. Jeff yelled at me from the second deck to get the hell into the stadium. Finally I entered and met him inside.
Since we only had one seat, we switched off each quarter, with the other one walking around, talking to other fans and sticking their head in the various gates to see what was going on. Finally, as the fourth quarter began and the Ravens had the game in hand, the Giants' fans were beginning to leave and Jeff was able to sit with me in the empty seats in our section. The guy who snuck Jeff in was sitting right in front of us. Get this: he had snuck in six people for $600 each and then quit his job. Not a bad take for him, eh!? After the game ended, we walked around to the Ravens sideline and celebrated with the fans that had gathered. What a great feeling it was to be there! After we left the stadium, we went back to the local bar, once again snuck in avoiding the huge line waiting in front, and rejoiced with the Ravens fans as well as the Baja Men, who were there live and kept singing their signature hit, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" over and over again. Late that night, or really early the next morning, we trudged back to the hotel for a few hours sleep before catching our flight back to Baltimore.
All in all, it was one of the best experiences of my life, and Jeff and I often talk about it and vow to one day return if the Ravens ever give us another opportunity.