How A Fat, Balding, Middle Aged Ohio Guy Ended Up At Mercedes Benz Stadium Throwing Passes To Jerry Rice (Thanks Marriott)

 

I received an email a couple weeks ago from an agency representing Marriott Rewards Program saying how Jerry Rice was going to be available for an interview and the agency wanted to know if I would be interested in making some sausage (industry speak around here). It’s the same proposals I get from a million other agencies over the course of an 11-year run since starting Busted. The agency sends an email, gets you lined up for an interview with the talent and then an interview happens.
One thing leads to another and you create a post with the interview content generated. The brand gets a shoutout via the talent and the media outlet gets the content and bragging rights that ‘X’ player was on the site. That’s how this all goes down.
But this email was worded a little different and I asked if Marriott was asking me to do a media trip to Atlanta for the Jerry Rice event. The next email I received said something like, ‘Yep, we’d love to have you come to Atlanta and take part in the Jerry Rice punt, pass & kick event’ and ‘here’s your flight.’ I totally wasn’t expecting that response, but sometimes you have to ask the tough questions around here.
Fast-forward to Monday morning, I’m on a flight to spend like seven hours in Atlanta. Literally a business trip for pleasure and to hang with Jerry Rice, but I still didn’t know for sure how this event was going to go down. I take MARTA from the airport — weird scene going on with the subway system; is it always that eerily quiet at the stations and on the cars — and I’m getting off to a deserted State Farm Arena/CNN station. I’m the only person riding an escalator up to street level where it’s a short walk to the Benz. Did I mention the train scene is very odd in Atlanta?
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Anyway, one thing leads to another and I’m signing a waiver to say I won’t sue the Benz or Marriott if I tear a hammy or ACL on the field turf. No problem, my hammy is worthless and I sit like 15 hours a day. I have no real use for a hammy. Then Jerry arrives looking like he could still grab 50 for 875 and 5 TDs. Just peak shape, unlike my fat, balding Ohio Man self. Then again, Jerry gets paid to stay in shape and represent brands. I get paid to post vintage Ric Flair videos and Paulina Gretzky updates. It’s almost as if I’m supposed to be an out of shape slob.
This is when I learn exactly what’s going to happen during this event. I’m part of a group of Marriott Rewards members who have bid 100,000 rewards points to punt, pass and kick field goals with Jerry. It’s all part of a new way for rewards programs to offer up experiences for points holders other than the typical free room in Tahiti thing. Marriott calls these experiences Moments and previous Moments have included basketball with Dwyane Wade, surfing with Laird Hamilton, cooking with Daniel Boulud, golfing with Annika Sorenstam and tennis with Andy Roddick.

Highlights of Punt, Pass & Kick with Jerry Rice:

• The event crew did and incredible job. Participants ran out of the tunnel as the MC announced your name over the Benz sound system while Falcons cheerleaders did their thing with the pom poms; Jerry and his crew of helpers were there at the end of the introduction to do low-fives (I about fell over…haven’t done a low five like that in a long time).
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• First up for my team — passing. We’re talking legit NFL footballs, my nemesis. Fat, bald, Ohio Guy’s hands aren’t the biggest so throwing a football with a tight spiral has its challenges. Luckily, the gun was still capable of a couple 15-yard floaters; passing coach D.J. Shockley, the Georgia Bulldogs legend, told us to do some 3-step drops and then 5-yard, launch it as far as you can without needing rotator cuff surgery bombs. Jerry makes his rounds and stops over to throw heaters at me that leave seam tats on my forearms. No way I could catch a Jerry Rice heater out front. Have to let the ball play you. Then I throw a couple wounded ducks back to the greatest of all time. Still haven’t processed what this means to my life.
• Quick note: it’s not great catching passes looking back to the open end of the Benz stadium; serious sun glare, of course that won’t matter during the Super Bowl since it’ll be dark.

• Next up — field goal kicking. If there’s one event I was feeling confident to not make a fool out of myself in front of Jerry, this was it. I dabbled in soccer back in the day and felt like my form was good enough to put a couple pigskins through the goalposts. It’s not like I’ve practiced kicking field goals lately. We would try to kick footballs between trees when I was like 15, but that was it. I got off to a fast start making a couple of chip shots and then one from the 10 so that’s a 27 yarder. Then the kicks were moved back to the 15 yard line and it looked like attempting a 55 yarder.  Of course Jerry stopped over after one of the coaches started saying how I might be able to hit this one. Nbd, just Jerry Rice 5 yards away waiting to see if I could nail this kick.
Of course I hit it just inside the right upright with plenty of leg. Jerry seemed to be very impressed and my emotions were higher than the day I married Mrs. BC. Damn near cried a tear. Go ahead, put it on my tombstone: “Once hit a 32-yard field goal at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in front of Jerry Rice.” 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrguAGxA74L/

• Next up — punting. By this point I was sweating, feeling loose, ready to pin a couple inside the five on the field where a Super Bowl will be played here 35 days or so. Yep, it was beyond surreal. Out of body. By now you lose all contact with reality. You start to believe you belong on this field with Jerry Rice. I get off a couple of McAfee-like bombs and then my leg starts to tell me I rarely use it for this type of physical activity. I give 110% and finish strong.
• The event ends with Jerry making his MVP announcements and he gives me the kicking accolades. A six-year-old or so who was there with his dad wins one of the other MVP awards. A team photo is taken and Rewards members get items signed by Jerry before heading off to begin their lives after the Experience.
• Marriott will be back to the Benz for the Super Bowl where they will take over a suite for a Super Bowl eve sleepover for a rewards member who bids the most points to sleep inside the dome in a room fashioned after a Courtyard by Marriott suite. The current bid is over 1.2 million points and I’m told this one will likely go for over two million. Here’s what you get at that point level:

  • One night stay in a king bed at the Super Bowl LIII stadium in a field-level suite transformed into a Courtyard guest room (February 2, 2019)
  • Field Level Suite Tickets in stadium seats to Super Bowl LIII (February 3, 2019)
  • Visit from an NFL Legend
  • Two-night stay in one hotel room at a Marriott property (Friday February 1 and Sunday, February 3, 2019)
  • Round trip business class flights*
  • Private car and chauffeur for the weekend
  • Experience is for two people

• The Falcons shirts were the participant uniforms. I know you’re going to ask.
• I was the only media guy there. No local media. No Rovells. Just participants and the blogger Ohio guy.
• I was at my house in Ohio by 6:30 and eating dinner; the punt, pass and kick started at 11 a.m. at the Benz. Tight window for the flights and trains, but it all worked out perfectly. Little BC and BC3 barely realized I left town for the day
• As for the atmosphere, it couldn’t have been any better. You had guys that couldn’t throw footballs. You had guys who couldn’t kick footballs. Everyone was there for a unique experience and couldn’t have been nicer.

Couple of souvenirs from my trip:

Eagles & Rams Fans Fight, Eagles Fan's Eye Looks Rough
Eagles & Rams Fans Fight, Eagles Fan's Eye Looks Rough
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