having to spend eight days here watching Patriots and Giants fans revel in their good fortune.
But I’m here to say that after spending the last five nights here and walking through the streets of Indianapolis every night that I’ve never seen a Super Bowl celebration like the one that’s going on here this week.
The weather has been glorious by midwestern standards in February. It’s been in the 60’s most days and in the 40’s most nights. The zipline downtown has been spectacular. The downtown streets have been flooded with locals who have apparently taken the entire week off and are treating this Super Bowl celebration as a “State Fair” of sorts. I’m not even sure any of these people even have jobs based on the late hours and non-stop “Saturday night” celebration I’ve witnessed.
I’ve seen grandmothers and children walking the streets at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night in Peyton Manning jerseys. The buildings are awash in color and tens of thousands of people are here partying, turning an otherwise rather mundane area into a living, breathing Bourbon Street before the fans from Boston and New York even arrive.
It’s been quite the show, like a New Year’s Eve bender that feels like it has no end. Even the coffee shop at the hotel is open 24 hours a day!
Meanwhile, during the day I’ve sat next to our vintage Bob Irsay dummy on Radio Row at the J.W. Marriott and marveled at what those Mayflower vans and that infamous night in March 1984 have begat here in “friendly heart of the Midwest.”
It’s really kind of astonishing, this long tail of events that Irsay’s move has unfurled over the past 28 years from Peyton Manning to the existence of the Ravens to this shiny new Lucas Oil Stadium and now a Super Bowl that has turned Indianapolis into midtown Manhattan for 10 days.
As the rest of my life will unfurl when I return to Baltimore on Monday morning, I will not soon forget the scene here in Indianapolis this week and always regret what our fans would’ve found if the 50,000 of you would’ve made this journey this weekend and found a city that’s in the midst of its own franchise earthquake with the Irsay-Manning-Luck triangle.
I’ve attended 18 Super Bowls. I’ve walked the streets, seen the energy, participated in the revelry at all of them. I’ve broadcast more than 500 hours of radio from Super Bowls from San Diego to Miami, from Detroit to Jacksonville, from Tampa to Minneapolis and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a better site or a metropolis that’s taken to throwing a party quite the way Indianapolis has this week.
And before you start directing your angst, anger and vitriol my way just realize this — I’m in the business of reporting the facts and being honest.
And if the the great tradition of Howard Cosell of “telling it like it is” is sacred to me then I owe you the truth — I’m here in the land of the Irsays reporting back to Baltimore that this might go down as the greatest Super Bowl site ever.
And, given the tenth of a second that our city came from experiencing this magic and energy, that’s a very, very difficult admission on my part.