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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My AFC Championship Playoff Game Experience - Colts 38, Patriots 34

It's hard to begin to put into words how truly amazing this past weekend was. I had the opportunity to be at the AFC Championship game at the RCA Dome on Sunday. Being a Colts fan since they moved to my hometown in 1984, you can imagine my excitement.

While my beloved Colts have put forth efforts (and failed) several times to reach the big game, this year seemed different to me. I guess the media got tired of copying and pasting "Manning can't win the big one, Colts will never make the Superbowl", etc. etc. because this year, there didn't seem to be much hype about Indy in the press. They quietly made their way to the AFC Championship game.

On my connecting flight from Houston to Indy on Saturday, my excitement began to grow. As I boarded with the sea of Stokely, Addai, Manning and Freeney jerseys, I just couldn't contain myself. I gave high fives to and carried on conversations with complete strangers who were dressed in head-to-toe blue and white, just like me.

On Saturday evening, we headed out to check out the Circle City. We ended up tailgating (yes, I realize it was still about 18 hours before the game) in a parking lot with several Colts fans. It was freezing but I didn't care. I was too nervous and excited to notice. The shouts and honking of passer bys kept us warm.Finally...Sunday comes! I wake up to 3 inches of snow. Get up, get dressed and head downtown to check into my hotel. I started to feel discouraged with the number of Pats fans I encountered in the lobby. We watch the beginning of the Bears/Saints game and then head to the RCA Dome.

The outside of the Dome is plastered with GIANT blue and white letters that read "AFC CHAMPIONSHIP". Reality begins to creep in...win one more game and we're in the big show!We find our seats, watch warm-ups and pray that no loud Pats fans sit near us. By the time the game started, there were so few Pats fans in the stands, I felt proud that Indy fans actually heeded Peyton's advice "Don't sell your tickets to Pats fans!”

The game starts and the crowd is into it. I mean it's loud. But, as you can imagine, the noise diminished rather quickly through the remainder of the first half.As the first half drew to a close, I realized...I am NOT prepared for my Colts to lose this game!

The second half begins and it's like a whole new team. As our Colts determination began to grow, so did the crowds. The noise level comes back up and it would only get better!

Fast forward to the Addai touchdown to put the Colts ahead by 4. That hole was so big I could have made it through! The Dome just went berserk! But, being the realist that I am, knew that if anyone could make something out of a last, one minute drive, it would be Tom Brady. As the Pats continued to go through downs, we began to get more excited.

It was just then that the THE play that I will never forget happened. Tom Brady intercepted! The place erupted! I hugged my mom and every other Colts fan around me!! The floor was shaking from the jumping and I actually couldn't hear what my mom was saying to me (and she was right next to me). I had to sit down because I actually felt like I could pass out at any moment. All I could do is stand there and cry. I don't know if it was out of relief or adrenaline or just thankful that after all of the years of disappointing endings, Dungy, Manning and the Colts were finally going to the Superbowl!!

The confetti guns went off creating a blizzard of blue and white confetti, Will Smith's "Miami" is blaring over the PA system and the scoreboard reads "Colts 38, Patriots 34 / 00:00 / 4th Quarter". It's a Colts fan's dream come true.As they are setting up the podium for the trophy presentation I look around and realize, this is what it's all about. We all know at the end of the day, football is a business. But for this moment, it was about the fans that have seen their heroes fall so many times and for the coaches and players who have put their heart and souls into getting into the big game. It was a proud day for all Indy fans, players and coaches.

As we hear Dungy and Manning start to talk to Jim Nantz, I started to think of all of the elements this Superbowl entails, the first time two African-American coaches will face off in the big game, Peyton Manning is now 200 pounds lighter after getting that giant monkey off his back, the Colts just staged the biggest comeback in postseason history, an all-Midwest Superbowl and most importantly, the Colts have a great chance of bringing the Lombardi trophy to Indianapolis.We listen to the trophy presentation and then head outside to the mayhem!

We are shoulder to shoulder getting outside the Dome. A thundering chant of "Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl" is roaring from the crowd. When I was finally able to get to the top of the stairs to start my decent down to Capital Street, I was taken aback again. Chills run down my body, but not from the 20 degree weather, it was from the view. The sea of people in their blue and white, the posters, the Indy Star copies with "Super Colts" waiving in the air.

Again, I thought to myself, this is what the NFL is all about.

Tony Dungy Proud of Two Black Coaches In Super Bowl

Dungy proud of two black coaches in Super Bowl
After a decades-long struggle for minority coaches in professional football, the Colts' Tony Dungy fully embraces the significance of two black head coaches in the Super Bowl.

INDIANAPOLIS - Tony Dungy could only shake his head in disbelief as he reflected on the numbers back then.

Way back when black head coaches in the NFL didn't exist. Back when any thought of establishing a pipeline of minority head coaches essentially was a pipe dream.

That was the reality the Indianapolis Colts' coach stepped into in 1981 when he accepted his first NFL coaching job as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dungy quickly did the math. Then, he set out to alter the equation.

''When I came into the league, there were 14 African-American assistant coaches and 28 teams,'' Dungy, 51, said Monday, a day after he and the Bears' Lovie Smith became the first black head coaches to reach the Super Bowl.

``People who had an opportunity to change that were going to have to do it. It was about bringing good coaches and people into the league. In my heart of hearts, it was also to bring good African-American coaches.''

On Feb. 4, Dungy faces one of the protégés he groomed when the Colts play Smith's Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium. It will be the first meeting between black head coaches in the Super Bowl, which guarantees a black coach will lead his team to the title for the first time in NFL history.

For that reason, Dungy said next week's historical matchup represents ''a win-win'' situation.

It's also the high-water mark in a decades-long struggle for minority coaches who have had to overcome discriminatory hiring practices to land jobs at the top level.

''I realize the position we're in,'' Smith, 49, told reporters in Chicago after the Bears beat the New Orleans Saints to get to the Super Bowl. ``It's hard to put into words, but I know a lot of great coaches who came before me that didn't get this opportunity.''

Smith was a college assistant until 1996 when Dungy, then head coach at Tampa Bay, hired him to coach linebackers. Of the 45 questions Dungy was asked at Monday's news conference, 20 were related to his role in fighting through obstacles to create opportunities for himself and other black coaches.


Dungy is the league's only active coach to lead his team to the playoffs seven consecutive seasons. He is at the top of a coaching tree that saw a fourth former assistant land a top job on Monday when Mike Tomlin became the Steelers' first black head coach. Herm Edwards (Kansas City) and Rod Marinelli (Detroit), who is white, also have worked for Dungy.

''An opportunity like this, to get to the big game, has been a long time coming for him,'' said Colts lineman Anthony McFarland, who also played for Dungy in Tampa. ``I wish it would have happened for him years ago in Tampa. But he's got it now, and it couldn't be any better.''

The attention on Dungy and Smith leading to the Super Bowl should raise concerns about the overall low number of minority head coaches, said Floyd Keith, executive director of the Indianapolis-based Black Coaches Association.

There were seven black head coaches among the NFL's 32 teams this season, and two -- Dennis Green (Arizona) and Art Shell (Oakland) -- since have been fired. In college, there were only five among 119 Division I-A schools. The University of Miami made Randy Shannon the sixth after the season.

''I don't know if we'll ever match a day in the NFL of this magnitude,'' Keith said Monday. ``I don't know if you can adequately describe it, but you just appreciate it. It should send a message that color should never be a barrier. The issue is the quality. But some of the breakthroughs in the NFL, we're not seeing in college.''

Shannon's hiring was a significant step, but more need to be taken, said Florida State associate athletic director Bob Minnix, a member of the BCA's board of directors.


Minnix said the BCA has started to circulate a report card that evaluates hiring practices of college athletic departments. It serves a purpose similar to that of the NFL's so-called ''Rooney Rule,'' which mandates that owners must interview minority candidates in coaching searches.

''On the collegiate level, we're woefully behind the times,'' Minnix said. ``We're just trying to help colleges make up ground. I applaud the University of Miami. But with Randy's hire, it's slow progress.''

Dungy sees that progress with programs now in place that once didn't exist. He said being one of two black coaches in the Super Bowl should continue to raise awareness.

''Some of the impediments are out of the way,'' he said. 'I think about my generation of kids who watched Super Bowls and never saw African-American coaches and didn't think that you could coach. Now, they can look at us and say, `Hey, I might be the coach one day.' That's special.''

RCA Dome Celebration After Colts RB Joseph Addai Scores Winning TD

This video shows the pandemonium at the RCA Dome after the Colts RB Joseph Addai scored the winning TD in the AFC Championship Game:

Super Bowl Party - Leather And Laces And Penthouse "Goin Deep" Super Party - AOL Fanblog

Super Bowl Party Quest: First Miami Party Webpages Are Up
Posted Jan 16th 2007 10:50PM by Stephanie Stradley

Visit our blog about Bauer's Pure Rush Super Bowl Party

My quest is to go to some fabu parties during my Super Bowl trip that I won after being named 2006 Ultimate Texans Fan. As long as I am searching the web for the best party info, I thought I'd share....

From what I can tell, this year's Super Bowl might be the biggest party event of all time. I am not exaggerating.
The last time the Super Bowl was held in a city that is really known as being a "party city" was Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans in 2002. Since there are few places as appealing as South Beach in February, apparently, the game and the parties that weekend are going to be hot tickets according to this article in the Miami Herald:

''Generally, we have about 30 more parties than the other Super Bowl cities,'' said John Webb, the sports tourism director for Broward County, who is also in charge of finding venues for local Super Bowl organizers. Webb said his latest list shows 104 events -- ``And we don't know about all of them.''

So far, only a few websites for the bigger parties are starting to go up (uh, the links are probably not the safest for work unless you work somewhere kind of relaxed):

* Leather & Laces Friday, February 2nd, 9pm-5am at Chakra , 15th Street and Ocean Drive.
The celebrity hosts for this 4th annual event are beautiful and clearly not chosen to appeal my particular demographic, though I am sure that they are delightful people and fun to party with: Carmen Electra, Jenny McCarthy, Kelly Monoco, Victoria Silverstedt and Brande Roderick.
The list of invited players and celebs is far too vast for me to mention other than by this link. Personally, I believe, in all seriousness, that a SB party is probably not worth going to unless someone associated with the show Entourage is in attendance. HBO makes magnificent television.
And, hey, it is nice to justify spending money to go to this event because the proceeds go to great causes.

* The Penthouse "Goin' Deep" Super Party Saturday, February 3rd, 10pm-5 am at Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave.
The featured entertainer for this party is Snoop Dogg. No particular list of guests is given other than saying it will include mingling with 28 Penthouse Pets, and "A List" celebs, actors, musicians and athletes.

I don't doubt folks will want to be there because everybody loves Snoop. (Funny non-PC link, and the translations on that page are funnier, even if your French isn't so good).

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