With the post-Super Bowl XLV storyline being rightfully dominated by the league's ticket disaster for 1,200 fans who'd purchased seats to the game -- only to be told they didn't -- I'd be remiss not to share the story of a pair of Bridgeville brothers who won the trip of a lifetime to the Super Bowl, only to see it nearly evaporate in front of them, and then endure a downright arduous journey to get there ... I'd intended to follow them around a bit over Super Bowl weekend, but for reasons you'll see below, we weren't able to connect. Still a good story though.
Terry and Chris Scott, an attorney and carpenter by trades and rabid Steelers fans by birthright, owe their Dallas adventure to a rather odd source: Chris's birthday road trip to quench a yen for some of the fast food joint's famed "Belly Bombers."
The nearest White Castle to their Bridgeville homes is just south of Akron, so they dovetailed it with a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton.
They'd read online about a contest that the Hall sponsored -- take a picture in your favorite team's jersey in front of a Hall exhibit and enter it for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to Super Bowl XLV including tickets, airfare and three-nights lodging.
Dressed in their finest black & gold, they snapped a photo in front of a Steelers Nation photo collage. They submitted the photo and were pleased to be picked among 17 finalists -- one for each week of the NFL season. Voting was conducted online between the end of the regular season and theWild Card Playoff weekend.The Scotts mobilized as many friends, family and acquaintences as they could to cast their votes. They contacted radio stations -- notably the KISS morning Freak Show and the WDVE morning show, the I HEART PGH blog as well as the author of this blog to give them a plug.
It worked. They won, narrowly beating out a New England Patriots fan on the last day of voting.
Their package included round-trip airfare, lodging, tickets to the game ($800 a piece), passes to the live announcement of 2011 Hall of Fame inductees, and tickets to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Merlin Olsen Luncheon.
That last item? A private lunch and meet and greet with a few dozen Hall of Famers and 2011 finalists at Dallas' Union Station -- $975 a ticket and only 250 tickets were made available to the general public. This is widely regarded as one, of not the, most exclusive event of Super Bowl Week.So the Scott's were headed to Dallas for the Super Bowl.
But would the Steelers follow?
A couple of nerve-wracking weeks later, and the answer was yes. The Steelers defeated the New York Jets to advance to Super Bowl XLV and the Scotts -- already excited just to be going to the Super Bowl -- were now officially over the moon that they'd get to see their team play in it.
"I was a nervous wreck. We watched the [AFC Championship] game at my brother's house [with friends and family]," Terry Scott said. "When Ben knelt with the ball to kill the clock we got tackled into a pile in the kitchen and someone shouted "YOU'RE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!"
They left for Pittsburgh International Airport at 3 a.m. Friday for a 5 a.m. flight to Charlotte where a connection to Dallas would get them in at 9:30 a.m. local; just enough time to make it from the airport to the Hall of Fame luncheon.
Except ... their US Airways flight from Charlotte to Dallas was cancelled owing to an overnight snowstorm in North Texas. US Airways would not connect them that day on any flight -- US Airways or another airline -- anywhere into Texas.
The best the airline said they'd do was fly them back to Pittsburgh and give them a shot at essentially starting over and getting to Dallas on Saurday. For the Scott brothers (and about 55 other Steelers fans on the same flight headed to Dallas for the game) this was not acceptable -- what if flights were cancelled on Saturday as well?They tried to rent a car and drive to Dallas. But none of the agencies at the Charlotte airport would give them a one-way rental. They'd have to drive the rental back to Charlotte and buy a seperate flight home.
Necessity -- and lines of credit -- being the mothers of invention, they banded together with two other Steelers fans from their flight and rented a limosine to get them the1,046 miles to Dallas, at a cost of a little more than $3000 (the Hall defrayed their cost).
It's 1,046 miles from Charlotte to Dallas -- a 15 hour drive is possible if one take some liberties with the speed limit. The group shoved off at 9 a.m. Friday, stopping to pick up a case of Yuengling, then headed south on I-85 through the Carolinas and Georgia to Atlanta, where they picked up I-20 and pushed due west through Alabama, Mississippi, Lousiana, and eventually Texas.
"We were disappointed about missing the [Hall of Fame] luncheon, but we were still so excited to be heading to Dallas having so much fun on our little unplanned adventure, I didn't mind," Terry Scott said.
They had Nine-hundred-ninety five miles down, with 51 left to go just before midnight Friday and ...
Snow and ice on a hilly part of I-20 made the stretch impassable for tractor-trailers, and caused a six-mile traffic stoppage that the brothers were stuck in. Special tow trucks were called in pull the tractor trailers but the process was very slow, and multiple small accidents only made matter worse. The sides of the road were littered with abandoned cars and trucks.
"We'd move maybe 100 feet in an hour," Chris Scott said.
"Plus, our driver was from Africa, and had never driven in ice or snow before either," Terry Scott added.
They took turns sleeping and had to check on their driver -- who at this point had gotten way more than he'd bargained for -- to make sure he was awake.
Nine hours later they were moving again. They got to Dallas almost exactly 24 hours after they'd left Charlotte -- about 9:30 a.m. Saturday. They'd made a valiant attempt at staying up and sightseeing, taking in a little bit of Fort Worth.
Their bloodshot red eyes were lined with deep purple circles under them that looked like shiners. Their prize included passes to attend the live announcement of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 at the Sheraton Dallas. Part of a two-hour show on the NFL Network, it featured the new enshrinees and football legends -- Deion Sanders, Marhsall Faulk, Steve Young, etc. In short, a football fan's dream.
But they were so tired they left after 20 minutes once they learned that Steeler greats Jerome Bettis and Dermontti Dawson wouldn't be inducted.
The game, well, obviously that didn't pan out as they (and millions of other Steelers fans around the globe) might've hoped, but the story -- from entering the contest, to winning it, to the Steelers making it, to just getting there -- was the experience of a lifetime.
But they couldn't make it home without at least one hitch, Terry Scott said.
"Our flight [back to Pittsburgh] was delayed."