Thoughts

Only Two Stadiums Left

Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins

After the Tampa Bay game, we drove down to Miami and flew to Chicago for Thanksgiving. We arrived back Saturday before the Dolphins’ game.

I highly recommend Miami weather at the end of November. It was in the low 70s and perfect football weather.

I was able to get $20 endzone tickets the night before. We arrived at our usual time but did not see the typical crowd. I think Miami fans show up when Miami fans want to show up.

We walked around the stadium and paid the most for a pin yet ($15). I found a value food station but still had to hand over the most for a souvenir soda ($12.50) for a cup that got quickly scrapped up after being put in the cupholder.

I had a minute-long conversation with the cashier about how I would like only to pay $3 for popcorn, and she insisted $6.75 was the cheapest option. Then, as we made it up to our seats, we saw a lovely card saying, “You’re a Winner!”

It was, unfortunately, on the seat directly to my left.

We expected a close game between two mediocre teams.

We got to see Cam Newton play for both the Patriots and the Panthers in the same season. However, Cam would only throw for 92 yards, and Christian McCaffrey would leave the game early to injury. In addition, the Miami Dolphins defense had a blocked punt for a touchdown in our endzone.

So the only thing left to cheer for at the end of the game was if we could see our third consecutive 30-10 blowout. A second fourth-quarter FG, however, ruined our dreams.

Miami Dolphins 33
Carolina Panthers 10

Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints

After the game, we stayed in the Miami area and visited the Everglades and Key West. I watched ticket prices very closely for this game all the season. It peaked at $283 in August and then calmed down to around $200 for most of the season. Still an expensive experience.

Thankfully the Cowboys are 1-3, and the Saints are 0-4 in their last four games. So we were able to get seats for $56 only 48 hours before game time.

The Superdome was only our third stadium to require proof of vaccination to attend the game. The process includes waiving your vaccination card in front of a stadium employee, but at least they’re trying.

We walked into Champions Square and saw a genuine party going on. We saw women dressed like they were going to a nightclub. It felt like the fans were genuinely excited to see their team play.

The lighting outside of the stadium is well done and helped make you forget the outdated stadium inside.

We were shocked to find the worst collection of pins to date. The pro shop was very loud but had a smaller selection than most stadiums. Besides the gameday pin, there was only one pin option. So Logan and I had to get our first duplicate pin. The food selection was not that interesting either.

The game itself was competitive for the first three quarters, and we were excited to have a strong finish. That quickly turned into Taysom Hill, showing that he could not complete forward passes. We have now seen two of Trevon Diggs’ nine interceptions. When the score reached 27-10, I prayed for another 30-10 game. Unfortunately, Deonte Harris showed his joystick skills, and the game ended.

Dallas Cowboys 27
New Orleans Saints 17

My parking skills paid off, and we could walk to our car and make it back to our hotel quickly. We went to see the WW2 Museum the next day.

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

Our final AFC stadium came with a surprise gift. My Dad is friendly with a Houston steel man who has season tickets on the 45-yard line only seven rows up. Our best seats at the best price, free.

This game was our third time seeing Carson Wentz lead the Indianapolis Colts, and if he didn’t throw a shovel pass interception, we would be sad.

We could get a hotel at a reasonable price less than a mile away from the stadium. It was already in the seventies in Houston in December by kickoff.

The crowd was non-existent. We walked from our hotel, and it felt like we were three hours ahead of game time and not just an hour. Although we found out that the first ten thousand fans got a free t-shirt, we wondered where the remaining two thousand shirts went.

It is a massive stadium, with some fine features that don’t make it as dull as State Farm Stadium, but not as attractive as Mercedes-Benz and U.S. Bank Stadium.

There was only one pin in the official team store, so we feared we would have to double up again. Since we had time, we kept walking around and checking other team stores. We thankfully found another store that had options. When I tried to return my original pin, the supervisor said, “Why didn’t you ask to exchange it?” Followed by, “There are no returns. All sales are final.” I showed her the receipt that said you could return within 60 days. “That’s for merchandise only.” No line or other customers was waiting. I didn’t do anything else besides look at her confused. I’m trying to return a $10 pin, not back out of a timeshare opportunity.

She ultimately processed the return, and I held it together until typing out this blog post not to poison our day.

The food was reasonably priced, and some value deals were available. So I chowed down on some nachos and a pretzel.

We walked down to our seats only seven rows away from the field and were amazed at the size of the players. We were on the Texans sideline and were emotionally ready to cheer for an upset over possible MVP Jonathan Taylor.

The game started with an interception, and the following Texans’ drive ended in a fumble. The defense held firm in the first half, but the offense of the Texans never got going, and the defense ultimately was run over.

I grew tired of looking up and to the side for replays as there were no screens in the middle of the field.

The Texans were tired of Tyrod Taylor, and we got to see Davis Mills look worse than Taysom Hill, and the Texans gave us our biggest blowout to date.

Indianapolis Colts 31
Houston Texans 0

The Last Two

We will take a couple of weeks off and finish our journey in the midwest before returning to Chicago for Christmas.

Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions: December 19
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears: December 20

Fun Fact: The Conch Republic is a micronation declared as a tongue-in-cheek secession of Key West, Florida, from the United States on April 23, 1982. My Birthdate. We will turn 40 next year.

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