Where do I even begin with this? How about at the climax of last year’s AFC championship game...
For years, it has been a running semi-serious joke in my household that should the Chiefs one day make the Super Bowl, then I would simply have to go. After all, I have supported the team for nearly 20 years, but it has been since 2013 and the formation of Arrowheads Abroad that the Chiefs influence in my life really took off. From a hobby that used to be a cure to Sunday evening boredom, the Chiefs had now fully established themselves as one of the most important parts of my life. Hence why the agreement was in place.
As the Chiefs’ momentum through the 2018 season picked up, so did my Super Bowl plans. Going into the 2018 AFC championship game, I had accommodation in Atlanta sorted, I knew which flight I was going to book, and I even knew how I was going to afford and get hold of a ticket. Everything was falling into place, and my dream trip was going to happen.
Tom Brady, Bob Sutton and Dee Ford had other ideas.
Fast forward 11 and a half months, and you would automatically assume that the same agreement would still be in place, but as we all know, life changes fast, and sometimes things that were affordable a year before aren’t necessarily the same now.
This isn’t me looking for pity; that’s just life.
Seeing as I couldn’t possibly afford a ticket to the game should the Chiefs make Super Bowl LIV, the trip was out of the quesion. I shelved plans for a trip to the United States for another year.
That was until the Chiefs came back from 24 points down against the Texans.
I heard rumblings amongst the guys from Arrowheads Abroad that a trip to Kansas City might be on the table if the Chiefs were to make the Super Bowl. Instead of heading out to Florida, then why not head to Kansas City to watch the game with like-minded Chiefs fans?
They had my interest, but then the plan fell apart. As the guys checked flight prices and more importantly, weather forecasts, it was decided that we would spend Super Bowl weekend in Miami, not Kansas City. We had all heard about the crazy stuff that goes on ahead of the game in the host city. We might not have tickets to the game, but we would have the carnival atmosphere and the weather.
So, for the second year in a row, I found myself watching the AFC championship game with extra interest. Maybe this year, I would get myself to the States, maybe this year the Chiefs will finally make a Super Bowl after such a long wait. Luckily, Tom Brady, Bob Sutton or Dee Ford wasn’t around to ruin my plans,
As the clock ticked away, as did my bank balance. Within seconds of Clark Hunt hoisting the Lamar Hunt trophy above his head, I had my flight, time off and accommodation booked.
Just like Will Smith had famously rapped, ‘I’m going to Miami.’
As soon as I arrived in Miami, I knew I was in a place a million worlds away from sleepy Kansas City. Being a small-town guy myself, I like visiting big cities, but I also like being able to move from A to B with relative ease. Within minutes of arriving in Florida, I had already heard more car horns than I had ever heard in my previous 31 years. The traffic was crazy. We asked our Uber driver if the traffic was especially bad because of the Super Bowl? He said yes, but he also admitted that the horns were the norm. Remind me to put in my earplugs next time.
Our party of six had traveled for a total of 100 hours to get to Miami Beach. Luke, Spencer and myself had traveled from the south of England; Brad from the north; Duncan from Scotland; and Michael from Germany (yes GERMANY)! By the time we had checked into our hostel, we were knackered. The objective for the night was simple: food.
Earlier that day, I saw a tweet from BJ Kissel raving about Cuban food. The thought process here was that if it was good enough for BJ, then it would also be good enough for us. The logic checked out. The food was incredible, as were the portion sizes. If you ever find yourself in Miami, then be sure to visit a Cuban restaurant.
The next day, we visited the much anticipated Super Bowl Experience at the Miami Convention Centre. If you haven’t heard of it before, imagine a theme park for the NFL.
There were stalls, demonstration of BBQs, activities, bars, press conferences and all kinds of other things to do. It really was a festival for all things NFL. For 40 dollars, you can spend unlimited time there. It’s well worth the money and would be a great place to take the kids.
Being part of a European group, we knew we wouldn’t be able to match the locals in passing activities, so we zeroed in on something much more up our street — kicking field goals.
I mean this with the upmost respect, but just like we can’t throw a football properly, for the same reason most, if not all Americans seem to struggle kicking a ball, regardless of what shape it is. I understand why. Over here in Europe, we are taught how to kick a ball from an early age, just like most Americans are taught to throw a ball. Let’s blame society for our shortcomings.
So as we watched American after American miss field goal after field goal from 30 yards or less, the internal pressure began to mount. A group decision had already been made that we would all go for the furthest distance, a 40-yard attempt. After all, go big or go home, right?
After the first two guys missed their attempts, attention turned to me. I had talked a good game in the build-up, could I back it up?
At this point, I thought the trip had hit its peak. Even if the Chiefs went on to win the Super Bowl the day after, would that topple the bragging rights I had over my friends for eternity? Most likely yes, but for dramatic reading I am saying that this was definitely going to be the highlight of my weekend.
That was until I got back to the hostel and read the following message from 810 WHB.
“Congratulations Tom, you are the winner of two tickets to the Super Bowl! Please give me a call ASAP confirming that you wish to accept the tickets and that you are in Miami.”
My response? “ WHAT! REALLY? YES! ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH.”
It’s tough to describe the emotion of how I felt when I read the message but to put into perspective, I can only think of three examples of when I have been happier:
The birth of my two sons and Aaron Ramsey’s winner in the 2014 FA Cup Final.
As I attempted to gather myself to make this phone call, a second thought popped into my head: “Brad was still heading back to the hostel, he doesn’t know.”
So after I confirmed with 810 that I would 100% be accepting the tickets and that I was in Miami, I eagerly awaited Brad’s return to the room, so that I could inform him that I had won the tickets and that I also would be taking him to the game.
Before you wonder about the other guys in the group, we had all made an agreement before the trip that should a ticket land in any of our laps, then we would simply have to take it. Sentiments are nice, but this was a Super Bowl ticket we were talking about. This opportunity could not be passed up. Fortunately for Brad, I had entered the competition on our behalf.
So as Brad arrived, I delivered the good news. I felt like a driving instructor delivering news that someone had just passed their driving test. The joy on Brad’s face is something I will never forget. Not only had my dream come true, but I also got to deliver a fairy tale.
Maybe destiny is a thing?
I'm speechless, I'm shaking, I'm close to tears! All thanks to my buddy, my pal @tomchilds56— ️rit Chief (@BritChiefUK) February 1, 2020
I'M GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!
(This is the moment he told me.)#ChiefsKingdom #SuperBowl #LegionOfZoom pic.twitter.com/7mceTVexrx
The only negative of winning these tickets (and I’m not complaining) was that it dramatically altered our plans for Saturday evening. As the rest of our group headed to the Clevelander Hotel on Ocean Drive to a party hosted by Fat Joe and Lil Jon, Brad and I had to head to Fort Lauderdale to collect our tickets instead.
We had seen a few posts on social media of a Chiefs rally happening in downtown Fort Lauderdale, but we didn’t really know what to expect?
What we found ourselves in was the party of all parties. Hundreds, if not thousands of Chiefs fans lined the bars and streets. The mood was incredible. Songs were being sung at the top of lungs, people were dancing and drinking. There wasn’t an unhappy person in sight. Everyone was pumped for the Super Bowl.
I even bumped into fellow Arrowhead Pride writer Matt Lane. True to form, he was being the company guy rocking an AP shirt, but false to form, the shirt had sleeves.
Once we had collected the tickets, I would be lying if I told you I was entirely comfortable. It’s not that I suspected someone would steal them. It’s more of a reflection of the trust that I have in myself not to lose them in a busy place. The night had been great, but I had to get these tickets back to my room.
Surprisingly I slept like a log the night before the Super Bowl. I woke up with a spring in my step knowing that not only the Chiefs would be in the Super Bowl, but I would also be in attendance. As we chilled out on Miami Beach Sunday morning, the group began to share their thoughts on how the game would go. The consensus was that the Chiefs would win, but no one could predict how.
As we parted, Brad and I jumped into our Uber and headed to Hard Rock Stadium. We figured traffic would be a nightmare given how bad it had been the rest of the weekend, but it was, in fact, the complete opposite. In just a few short minutes, we were at the gates of the stadium. We had made it to the Super Bowl.
It was obvious from the get-go that this was going to be a Chiefs home game. Everywhere we looked we could see number-15 jerseys. I had read earlier in the week that Mahomes’ jersey had been the top-selling one for the 2019 season. What I saw in front of me backed that up.
Being an English soccer fan (only time I am calling it that by the way) our pregame traditions are very different to what you are accustomed to in the States. For cup finals, we would normally take over a pub and sing songs for hours building up to the game. This couldn’t have been further from what I saw outside the stadium on Sunday. From cheerleaders to singers, the amount of different things going on outside the stadium was overwhelming. I felt like I was at Notting Hill Carnival, not at a sports event.
This is what the Super Bowl is all about. It was truly magnificent.
Our seats were top tier at the 30-yard line on the 49ers side. It should have been enemy territory, but Chiefs fans had taken over. Yes, there were pockets of 49ers fans, but the majority were definitely wearing Chiefs red.
What I love about the Super Bowl is all of the unnecessary stuff that happens. For example, do you really need The Rock introducing the teams? No. Am I happy that he did? You bet your candy ass I am.
None were more happy than Brad about the intros. When The Rock introduced Watkins, Hill and Hardman as the “Legion of Zoom,” Brad was hysterical, and for good reason. For those of you who are unaware, it was Brad that coined the nickname for the Chiefs receivers last year.
Before Sunday, I had seen the Chiefs play three times — twice in Arrowhead and once in London. I’ve heard the ‘Home of the Chiefs’ enough for it not to shock me anymore, or so I thought. As Demi Levato hit the last line of the anthem, the Chiefs Kingdom kept up their tradition. A thunderous chorus of CHHHHHHIIIIIEEEEEEEFFFFSSS echoed around Hard Rock. I knew it was coming, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that powerful.
The atmosphere during the game was one of the most intense environments I have ever been a part of. As the momentum shifted from one team to another, as did our moods. For the most part, the 49ers fans had been great sports and were rightfully enjoying their evening. I, however, was down. As Mahomes threw the second interception, I thought the game was lost. I had seen how the 49ers had grinded out teams with the run game all year, and I was convinced we would be the next team to fall victim. It had been a great trip, but I wasn’t getting the fairy tale ending I had craved.
That was until Patrick Mahomes threw the ball 59.1 yards to Tyreek hill.
I always find it so strange that in a game of roughly 140 plays, momentum can be swung on a single one. That was absolutely the case in this game. As Mahomes completed that pass to Tyreek, the mood in the stadium completely changed. It was like all Chiefs fans — myself included — remembered who was under center and what he had achieved in the previous two playoff games. Suddenly doom and gloom had become confidence. The game was won at that point, and everyone in the stadium knew it.
The celebrations at the end of the game were of two feelings: relief and disbelief. The team had finally ended 50 years of hurt. This surreal feeling of the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl was compounded by the fact that I was there to witness it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the Chiefs would be in the Super Bowl, let alone be there.
A dream weekend had the dream ending.