As part of the Panthers Privileges program, the Carolina Panthers randomly selected PSL Owner Richard Colven and his wife, Mary Colven, to send to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, MN. Their trip included air fare, hotel accommodations, game tickets and access to exclusive events. Below, Richard tells the story of his special experience, provided by the Panthers.
By Richard Colven, PSL Owner
Cold weather. Warm people. Passion for football. While the weather initially got the most attention as our trip to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis approached, warm people made us forget it once we arrived, and a lot of football passion took the weekend to a completely new level. My wife, Mary, and I were the lucky winners of a trip to the big game as part of the Season Ticket Holder Super Bowl Experience, thanks to the Panthers and the NFL.
When we arrived on Friday, we met two of our counterparts from every NFL team. This "Noah's Ark" of NFL fans ranged in age from 7 to 77. Several were original season ticket holders, some of whom had their seats for over 40 years. All of them were passionate about football, and we bonded and began swapping stories.
Our first event was an impromptu tailgate that turned into a great session covering referees and the rules featuring two of the NFL's top officials: Al Riveron, Senior Vice President of Officiating, and Russell Yurk, Vice President of Replay. These two are the ones making the decisions when the calls "go to New York," and both are as passionate about football as any of us. During the lively session, Riveron and Yurk did such a good job teaching us the rules, that all of us could make the call when Zach Ertz dove in for the clinching touchdown on Sunday - he made two controlled steps after gaining possession, completed the catch and converted from receiver to runner, therefore completing the play as a touchdown as soon as the ball broke the plane of the goal line.
We spent Saturday exploring some of the NFL's official Super Bowl activities. First up was the NFL Experience, a football playground in the convention center where we viewed a lot of great exhibits, saw the Lombardi trophy up close (one day…it will be ours) and even witnessed former Panther Steve Smith take a break from his NFL Network broadcast duties to run some routes on one of the interactive fields - he's still got it. Next, we visited NFL Live, an outdoor party on Nicolette Mall that featured music, good food and drink, and absolutely insane snowmobile drivers. We took advantage of Minneapolis' handy indoor Skywalk system to stay warm and move around quickly.
The NFL woke us up early Sunday morning for a great session with Vice President of Special Projects, Pete Abitante, on the NFL's plans for the 2019 season, which will be the League's 100th season. The year-long "NFL 100" celebration will include tons of opportunities for all football fans, culminating in the official 100th anniversary of the League's founding in September 2020.
We had a few hours to rest before we headed over to U.S. Bank Stadium for the game, where our hosts had one more surprise in store. Upon arrival, we were escorted onto the field during pre-game, which was a real treat. U.S. Bank Stadium is shiny and new (and huge), but we came away appreciating our "Bank," Bank of America Stadium, a lot more.
And then came the game. What a game! The Eagles fans were in full effect and inspired their team to their first championship, and…well, you probably all saw it. Likely the best line of the weekend came two hours after the game in the bar at our hotel - a Patriots fan walked up and congratulated an Eagles fan who was getting a drink next to me. The Eagles fan replied, "Even though it's over, I'm still worried that Brady will find a way to win it."
Thanks again to the Panthers and the NFL for the experience of a lifetime, and to all of our fellow PSL Owners, Keep Pounding!
The Panthers are pleased to offer Panthers Privileges opportunities like this year's Ultimate Super Bowl Experience, as a part of an ongoing effort to reward our most loyal fans. The program is excited to continue to provide PSL Owners with the opportunity to win a variety of memorable experiences in 2018.