I'm 99% positive I was the last person left in the auxiliary press box of MetLife Stadium as Sunday, February 2nd became Monday, February 3rd.
I wasn't a typical reporter or radio host or photographer at Super Bowl XLVIII; I was a team fan blogger, which meant that, beneath my literal, figurative, and superficial suit as "professional media member," I was a fan. It took every ounce of control I owned not to scream in agony as Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's first snap flew over his head, straight toward me, and into the end zone for a safety. I had to hold myself to my seat as Manning was intercepted for a pick-six later in the game.
Then the final whistle blew, and I was left to think, and to think out loud.
Because I wasn't a typical reporter, I wrote and wrote and wrote that night. I talked about the game. I talked about how this was just like those other Super Bowls I knew growing up. I talked about what the Broncos talked about, about their hour-after reactions to a 43-8 loss that no one saw coming. I wrote and wrote, not because I was fulfilling a deadline for my boss, but because I was pooring my shattered orange and blue heart into thousands of words, trying to make sense of the inexplicable football I had just witnessed.
As I finally packed up to get going, I realized that nearly everyone was gone. The very last media bus was scheduled to have already left, but I figured if I a ran I might make it. If I didn't, oh well, I'd pay for a $100 cab.
As I left the stadium where everything went wrong, I couldn't help but succumb to a desire to lash out at something, anything, that would bear my wrath. That anything became the stadium itself.
I will never buy your insurance. http://t.co/MjXYIhX47R
— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) February 3, 2014
I will never buy your insurance.
I tell you this story to try and paint a picture, and to pose a question.
If I feel that way about MetLife Stadium, how must the Broncos players feel about it?
"This is a tough place to play," Peyton Manning told reporters this week, hidden at the end of a statement about road vs. home games and the difficulties of traveling cross-country. "It’s important for us to have a good week of practice to get ready for this game."
Manning has only played in the stadium twice - both last season, in Week 2 and Week Super Bowl. Only one of those games turned out to be a very tough experience for him and the Broncos. When Manning described MetLife as a "tough place to play," it's his most recent experience that's more likely driving his comment.
MetLife Stadium has become Denver's House of Horrors, the site where everything went wrong. Certainly the sight of the Super Bowl venue will stir up some emotion for Broncos players.
Even those who played well during the Super Bowl acknowledged the significance of a return to MetLife. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas broke a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions for 118 yards; he talked about wanting a better outcome at MetLife this time around.
"I'll be thinking about the final score," said Thomas. "The last time I played there, as a team, the Broncos didn't play well. We got beat. It's not the same game as the Super Bowl, it's another opponent. But we're playing at MetLife so we want to go in and try to get a win in that stadium because the last results weren't so good."
There are reasons to believe the Broncos will not succumb to
MetDeath MetLife again. Like their first trip, the Broncos will benefit from warmer weather, less pressure, and a smaller viewing audience this time around at the Jets' and Giants' stadium. They'll be in a different locker room, too; sources tell me that the Jets will be, in fact, occupying the Jets' locker room.
Those aren't the only changes in store for this trip, either.
Fun tidbit - broncos are staying in jersey city as they did at SB but not at same hotel. Instead they are staying where the Seahawks stayed— Darren McKee (@dmac1043) October 10, 2014
But maybe, by beating the New York Jets (if they do), the Broncos can exorcise the demons this House of Horrors contains.
"It’s a different opponent," head coach John Fox said. "It’s a different atmosphere. It’s a regular season game, so we’re treating it as that. The Super Bowl is long gone. We’re focused on being successful this season and being the best we can be this year."
I was willing to pay over $100 to get away from MetLife Stadium. You couldn't pay me $100 to go back.
Luckily the Denver Broncos are more mature than me.