Super Bowl XLIXperience: Sunday

Wheels up (Mon., 7:30 a.m. MT)

We've reached the end of the yellow brick road.

One of the more memorable Super Bowl weeks in recent memory was capped by one of the best championship games in the history of the league.

Fun fact: The Patriots' 28-24 win over the Seahawks represented the 10th time since 2000 that the Super Bowl has been decided by seven points or less.

You damn Millennials, with your Ariana Grande, "GIFs" and Tamagotchis, have no idea that this game was once regularly a blowout of the grimmest kind.

As Bert Breer remarked on Twitter: "I grew up thinking Super Bowls were supposed to be coronations."

So yeah, it's a great new world for Super Bowl Sunday and an argument in favor of the type of parity some believe is a problem in the sport. In a rough year for the NFL, it was good to see the 2014 season go out on an entertaining note.

It's 7 a.m. on Monday and I'm sitting in the Phoenix airport waiting to catch a flight back to L.A. I wanted to thank everyone who followed along with the Super Bowl XLIXperience blog, even those of you who thought the Super Bowl XLIXperience blog was a really bad name.

Make sure to check out the latest Around The NFL Podcast, which we taped from the press box at University of Phoenix Stadium at around midnight.

It's really good, from what I remember. Admission: I don't really remember it. I need to sleep.

The scene in the winning locker room (11:20 p.m. MT)

I've been fortunate enough to be in the locker room of each of the last four Super Bowl winners. I remember taking the elevator down for the first time, after the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, thinking I had to be prepared for a potential inadvertent champagne soaking. How stupid and naive young(ish) Dan Hanzus was.

Champagne and beer celebrations is a total baseball thing, as it turns out. Life in the winning locker room of a Super Bowl champion is considerably less rowdy. It's practically reserved. Guys are in very good spirits obviously, as hugs are shared and laughs are had. But it always surprises me just how chill everybody is.

That was again the case tonight as I entered the Patriots' locker room after one of the most dramatic and stunning victories in Super Bowl history. Players went about their typical business of showering, changing and speaking with media members. Robert Kraft gave a brief interview with a small group of reporters in one area, while a group of guys sat in a corner and typed away on their phones.

Even Rob Gronkowski, the great bastion of fiesta, was remarkably low-key. He answered a few questions before saying he needed to get dressed. He did give one great answer when a reporter asked where the Gronk party bus would be going tonight.


If you think about it, the subdued vibe makes plenty of sense. These players use a super-human amount of adrenaline while playing in the biggest sporting event on the planet. It's only natural that there's a come-down -- and the post-game locker room is certainly a logical place.

Which is not to say these guys won't be going nuts before dawn breaks. For proof, please consult the smartphone footage of Gronk that will be on every sports blog in, oh, about eight hours.

Seahawks-leaning crowd in Glendale (4:05 p.m. MT)

Where are the Patriots fans?

The NFL Media press box is at the top of section 414 at University of Phoenix Stadium. I've made three trips up a flight of stairs that counts about 60 steps. After seven days of Super Bowl parties and general lack of conditioning, I am hurting. I need to go to the gym.

Anyway, during my most recent walk along the concourse -- a trip that spanned from the Patriots' 30-yard line to the Seahawks' 10 -- I counted 10Patriots fans in the crowd. I know this sounds impossible -- and I'm sure I missed a few Towhmey Braaady fans -- but the balance between fan bases here is legitimately striking.

It's at the point that I can already see the Around The NFL headline tomorrow: LeGarrette Blount: 'It Was Like A Road Game For Us'.

About 30 minutes before kickoff, the PA announced asked "Are there any Patriots fans out there?" Dull roar. Seconds later: "Are there any Seahawks fans out there?" CenturyLink Field explosion.

I suppose I can get on Patriots fans for this -- and I'd really, really love to -- but I get why the traveling crowd would drop off when you've been to six of these things in a decade or so. The real credit goes to the 12s, who have embraced their reputation as the loudest fans in football. And maybe the best.

Welcome to Super Bowl XLIX (noon MT)

We have arrived in our press box at University of Phoenix Stadium. This is really going to happen.

Our 30-minute bus drive to Glendale went through a thick fog that offered no visibility of the stadium until we actually pulled into the parking lot. This is a considerable issue for people flying in and out of Phoenix today, but it won't have any impact on a game that will be played under a roof.

The turf here is really striking. A lush green with meticulous paint jobs in the end zones, it's probably the nicest field I have ever seen in my life. As you might be aware, the field at University of Phoenix Stadium can be slid out of the stadium and into natural sunlight. Hence, no FieldTurf in a dome. It's a beautiful thing.

But enough about GRASS. I'll update this space sporadically over the course of the day and into the evening. My Around The NFL compadres and I will cover the game and head down to the field and locker room after we wrap up. I'll try to throw up a Katy Perry halftime review as well.

Let's do this thing.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps Super Bowl XLIX, including Malcolm Butler's game-sealing interception, Tom Brady's legacy and more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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