New City resident Joe Ruback, better known as License Plate Guy, learned all about travelling to watch his favorite team over the years of watching his beloved Giants on the road as well as at home.
Ruback also knows a thing or two about attending Super Bowls. He will be heading out to Indianapolis Thursday and will be in Lucas Oil Stadium for Sunday's championship game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots; making it the fifth time he has watched his beloved team in the big game.
Patch asked Ruback to offer some tips for fans making their first Super Bowl trip this weekend.
"When I have gone to Super Bowls, the weekend happens to be some of the best times for football fans in their lives," Ruback said. "I had one of the best weekends of my life at the 2000 Super Bowl. There was an '86 Giants reunion. A Hall of Fame Party. Then there was the crappiest game I've been to in my life. (The Giants lost Super Bowl XXXV to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-7.)"
Ruback's first tip is one that it is already too late to benefit from.
Make Your Plans Immediately
Ruback arranged for his tickets, transportation and hotel room before the Giants even won the NFC Championship game. That is a gamble, but it is important to plan the trip as soon as possible.
"If you haven't planned your stuff yet, you're in trouble," Ruback said. "As far as the hotel and car, you must make your mind up as soon as they win the (conference) championship game."
Ruback knows people trying to go at the last minute, including his two nephews.
"They are going to drive out Friday," Ruback said. "They don't have a hotel room. They don't have tickets. Nothing. Reminds me of a young me."
Aside from the potential for being stuck making the trip and not being able to get tickets, a last-minute trip can get expensive. By planning ahead, Ruback was able to get a $99 flight to Chicago and rent a car for $50 for four days.
That still left him facing a big hotel bill among other expenses, which leads into Ruback's second top.
Expect The Trip To Be Expensive
"Everything is magnified, including the prices," Ruback said. "It is going to be violently expensive. There are hotel rooms in Indy going for $1,800 a night and they are sold out."
The week leading up to the game is full of NFL events and parties, most of which come with a big price tag.
"I feel bad for families," Ruback said. "It's not like you can go to the game with your wife and four kids. You'd need a third mortgage."
So, is it better to go just for the game? Ruback said no.
There Is More To The Super Bowl Experience Than The Game
"I would tell you if you're going in just for the game, you're missing out," Ruback said. "If you fly out Sunday or go late Saturday night, you have missed out on a great experience. People should go for the Super Bowl weekend."
Ruback is going Thursday. Part of the plan is to take in some of the large number of parties tied into the game, but there is a lot more to do. There are NFL Experience activities, which are more family-friendly.
"There are vendors all over," Ruback said. "Shopping. Video gaming. Autograph signings. You can walk down the road and see an NFL player or Hall of Famer. Or a celebrity. Everybody is there for the ultimate show."
Just remember a Super Bowl trip can be a rare thing. This is the Giants' fifth Super Bowl, but there is no telling how long the wait for No. 6 could be.
"If your team gets in, you don't know how many times you will be able to go," Ruback said. "If you can afford it, you should do it. If you can say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I've done it five times, it's still not a ton."
Protect Yourself And Your Ticket
Ruback knows people like to show off their tickets in person or online. He just advises against it.
"I wouldn't be walking around with it on a necklace," Ruback said. "It's not the best thing to be walking around with."
He has also warned friends to be careful about posting pictures of their tickets online.
"People online can steal barcodes and make new tickets," Ruback said.
Buying tickets can be tricky as well because there are often counterfeits out there.
"If the deal is too good, it's not a good idea," Ruback said. "You have to be careful buying your tickets out there."
Be Ready For Something Special
Sports always provide the opportunity for something spectacular to happen, but rarely on such a big stage. The NFL Network has been showing NFL Films' half-hour highlight shows for every Super Bowl this week. Ruback shows up in the one for Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants defeated the Patriots, 17-14 -- specifically his reaction to David Tyree's famous catch to set up the game-winning score.
"My best memory in the entire world was Phil McConkey catching the pass off (Mark) Bavaro (in Super Bowl XXI)," Ruback said. "Then in '91, how many times did I hear 'Wide right' or "Norwide' Then in Super Bowl XLII, you are talking about the most amazing play, not just the catch, but the most amazing play in Super Bowl History.
"I wound up on the DVD, so I'm in the annals of NFL Films forever."
Ruback admits he has never picked against the Giants and rarely thinks a game will even be close, so keep that in mind with his prediction for Super Bowl XLVI.
"I will say that I don't believe the Patriots will be hanging with us," Ruback said. "Both teams will feel each other out early. It will be a low-scoring first half. Then I believe the Giants will win by double digits. I'd say a 27-17 victory.
"I don't need any wide right or helmet catches. I need a good, solid football game. The Giants are on fire. We need to continue that so we can breathe easy on the best night in football."