After 48 years of Super Bowls played in locales such as sunny Florida, the humid French Quarter and the occasional trip to a northern dome, the biggest football game of the year is finally being played right here in New Jersey — and several locals are jumping at the opportunity to go.
The game’s location at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, Bergen County, has made it possible for New Jersey residents to head to the game, see the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks and head back home right afterward — traffic and logistics permitting, of course.
Jim Malamut, of Ventnor, will even get the chance to see his favorite team. A Philadelphia fan as a child, Malamut eventually decided to follow another flock of birds.
“When I was a young kid, I liked the Eagles,” he said. “But when I was probably 9 or 10, Reggie White left the team. Then a year or two later, Randall Cunningham left the team. I didn’t like the direction things were going. So I decided to become a Seahawks fan.”
The choice was made because he was a big fan of then-Seahawks quarterback Rick Mirer during his college years at Notre Dame, Malamut said, as well as receiver Joey Galloway. And since the Seahawks now have been in more Super Bowls than the Eagles since he made the switch, it can be argued he made the right decision.
He was able to get tickets through a friend whose sister works for the NFL and wasn’t going to the game, he said.
“I was pretty excited,” Malamut said. “Prices were coming down for tickets online, but she has to sell hers at face value. So I was pretty excited to be able to go to the game.”
He has been to a few Seahawks games, both in Seattle and in Philadelphia, “but every game I’ve gone to has had inclement weather.”
One game, in Seattle in 2008, was played amid a freak snowstorm.
“It was the worst vacation of my entire life,” Malamut joked. “The entire city was shut down. It was crazy. And one of the guys with the Jets got in trouble for throwing a snowball at a fan.”
Joining him — somewhere — in MetLife Stadium today will be John Pampalone, of the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township, the lacrosse coach for Southern Regional High School.
A friend of his, Michael O’Brien, of Brick Township, got tickets through work. And so Pampalone, a New York Giants fan, and O’Brien, a New York Jets fan, will find common cause today in rooting for the Denver Broncos — a decision made easier for Pampalone thanks to Denver quarterback Peyton Manning being the brother of Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
“I feel it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to go to a Super Bowl,” he said, “and to see all that the NFL puts on.”
They will drive up today to the Secaucus transit station to ride to the Meadowlands, Pampalone said, before returning to Ocean County the same night.
For locations such as Arizona, where his Giants won a Super Bowl in 2008 and the site of next year’s Super Bowl, “I’d never be able to afford to fly and stay over,” he said. “Having it in your own backyard gives you the opportunity to actually witness it in person.”
Pampalone was also happy about the latest forecast (as of Friday) for the outdoor game — as high as 40 degrees at kickoff, light winds, no snow.
“I was a little worried when I got the tickets,” he said. “I thought it could be freezing, but it looks like it’s going to be manageable. It seems everything always clicks for the NFL.”
While they won’t be going to the game itself, several State Troopers Fraternal Association and Policemen’s Benevolent Association members have been volunteering to provide meals to law enforcement on duty at the Meadowlands.
“The Lakewood PBA offered up a bus, a mobile trailer for us to provide food and beverages, coffee, soup and sandwiches,” said STFA President Chris Burgos, of Stafford. “Lakewood PBA, Ocean County PBA, some retired PBA came with us. We wanted to fill a need and make sure law-enforcement personnel are fed.”
Many of them are fixed in place during their 24/7 assignments, he said, and while there were “some bumps in the road” when it came to organizing assistance, they were addressed.
“Nobody’s profiting off of this,” Burgos said. “A dozen or so people all volunteered for this. We’re doing it to make sure everyone’s taken care of in the extreme cold.”
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