MIAMI, FL — Fans of the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs shamelessly predicted their teams would hoist the coveted Lombardi Trophy as they entered Hard Rock Stadium ahead of Sunday’s big game.
Unfortunately, there could be only one winner and some fans were bound to leave disappointed though you wouldn’t have known it from speaking to them as they made their way into Hard Rock Stadium under brilliant Florida sunshine.
“I had this coat made out of an old Chiefs blanket,” confided Brian, a painting contractor from Kansas City, who arrived at the stadium wearing a full-length hooded fur parka dyed in Chiefs colors as well as two 1969 championship rings that he claimed to have borrowed from retired Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson for luck. “It’s pretty hot. I’m going to lose about 19 pounds today.”
He and his wife Niki were so confident the chiefs would be in the big game they purchased their airline tickets six months ago.
“I’ve been a Kansas City Chiefs fan my whole life,” he said. “My grandfather had season tickets when the stadium was built. Win or lose, just happy to be here.”
Teleisia Fahy, a bartender at San Francisco International Airport was wearing a big-hair blond wig and a 49ers jersey outside Hard Rock Stadium as she made her way to her $6,300 seat inside. She worked extra shifts to pay for the ticket and the thrill of seeing her team in the Super Bowl.
“I’m a die-hard Niner fan from San Bruno, California,” she told Patch adding she attended the NFC Championship game, where the 49ers clinched their spot in Super Bowl LIV.
“This is my get up I wore to the NFC championship,” she confided. “I’m wearing the same outfit, same shoes, same panties. I can’t change it because they won. My friends are like you’ve got to wear the same thing.”
Brian Vaughn, who was born in the San Francisco area but now lives in Baltimore, brought his 9-year-old son, Grant, and his mother from California to the game.
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“We’ve got a 49ers fan here among Raven fans,” Vaughn said of his son. “He’s one of the few in his school, but he still supports the 49ers even though they’ve been horrible for the last few years. Now, it’s awesome to see them go all the way to the Super Bowl.”
His Super Bowl experience so far: “Walked,” Grant shared. Lots of walking.
“Fifty years, almost my whole life,” exclaimed management consultant Phil Rauen. That’s how long he said he had been waiting for the Chiefs to win a Super Bowl. He brought his 15-year-old son, Daniel, to witness history and said he also attended the deciding game of the World Series when the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets.
“We were there, Game 5, the clincher,” he said. “We’re going to be here for this clincher. Go Chiefs.”
Mike Leonard drove four hours with his wife and three daughters to Hard Rock stadium from the Tampa Bay area in the hope of scoring tickets to the Super Bowl.
“If it would have worked out, we would have been in that stadium,” he told Patch. He planned to take his family to watch the game at nearby Hard Rock Casino. “I left Kansas City when I was 23-years-old. In the 40 years I’ve been a Chiefs fan, I may have not seen four Chiefs games.”
The crowd of 65,000 was peaceful yet enthusiastic. Police officers told Patch there were several incidents of fans getting their pricey tickets stolen as well as people who had to be turned away at the gate with phony Super Bowl tickets.
Not everyone who traveled to the stadium was there to see the Super Bowl. Some people came to protest — either on religious grounds or over the possibility that Formula-1 racing would come to the stadium once the Super Bowl leaves.
One man from Topeka, Kansas, was carrying a sign that warned fans against the dangers of Super Bowl “idolatry” as he sported a Chiefs jersey with other members from his church.
“It’s supposed to be ironic,” he explained. “I am a Chiefs fan, but at the same time, I don’t worship them. I will throw this away gladly for my God. The most important part of all of this is you’ve got to worship and serve the lord Jesus Christ first, and not yourself. The Super Bowl is all about just worshiping mankind and its creations instead of worshiping God.”
Ric Haddad and Nikki Newman of New York may have had the most unusual method for navigating the Hard Rock Stadium property.
“We have a friend around the corner who has a place, so instead of parking for $200 we figured we’d Rollerblade over.”
Newman acknowledged the plan may need some adjustments in the future. The couple wasn’t permitted to enter the stadium property with the canvas bag they brought to carry their shoes. They had to cross a pedestrian bridge over the busy road outside the stadium to check the bag.
“We knew it was going to be crowded,” Newman said. “They said, ‘do the best way to avoid traffic’ and this was the best way — although it is a little problematic.”
When asked who was going to win the big game, Newman yelled “Kansas City” while Haddad called out “San Francisco” as the couple skated off into the distance.