The commonly held belief among sports fans is that only four types of people actually attend the Super Bowl: a) the media b) corporate suits c) corporate suits' trophy wives and girlfriends and d) celebrities.
If you don't fall into one of those four groups, then you're S-B-O-L -- "Super Bowl, Out of Luck".
In truth, that's a pretty accurate assessment.
But a handful of Average Joes actually do attend the game each year.
Per the NFL's Super Bowl ticketing policy, the league reserves 1/6th of the game's seats to a random sampling of each of the participating teams' season ticket holders. The two Super Bowl squads have lotteries in which a handful of their season ticket holders earn the "right" to purchase Super Bowl tickets.
Alas, that "right" requires you to buy the Super Bowl tickets at face value (in most cases, $700-$1,000), arrange your own travel and lodging and hope and pray that you're seated next to one of the less annoying corporate tools compulsively checking his Blackberry, taking cell phone photos of himself and mispronouncing Pierre Garcon's name the entire game.
If you are one of the select few that's randomly selected out of the season ticket holder lottery allotment, you (or someone close to you) must purchase and pick up those tickets in person at the team's box office window within an exceptionally brief time window.
So, on top of the already built-in expenses of tickets, transportation and lodging, you should add in a potential missed day of work and possible pneumonia from waiting in the cold for an entire day to pick up the tickets.
No, they don't make it easy. When it comes down to it, very few Average Joes actually go through with it all.
It's a gauntlet, and a pricey one at that. From the purchasing of the tickets themselves, to the buying the flights just one week in advance, to finding hotel rooms in a destination city where lodging options have been booked for years -- the thought of a 52-inch TV, a couch and a few tasty brews oftentimes ends up being the more attractive (and cost efficient) choice.
But for the few Average Joes that do go through the Super Bowl gantlet, it's an experience like no other. Some even live to tell their tales.
Jeff Fekete, author of "Making the Big Game: Tales of an Accidental Spectator" is one of those brave souls.
If you think Drew Brees went through a long and arduous journey getting to Super Bowl XLIV, you haven't heard Fekete's Super Bowl XLII story.
Fekete's an Average Joe. He's not a member of the media, he's not a stuffy corporate suit and he's not a celebrity. But when he heard his wife's boss, a longtime Giants season ticket holder, had "won" two Super Bowl XLII tickets through the team's season ticket holder lottery, he saw his dream of getting to the big game become a potential reality.
Alas, Fekete and his wife lived in Sacramento, thousands of miles from the Giants Stadium ticket box office. Not exactly a skip and a jump down the Jersey Turnpike.
"I knew I had a cousin who was a firefighter in Middletown, New York. I hadn't spoken to him in a while, but I thought maybe he'd be willing to scoop the tickets up for me at the Stadium," Fekete explains via telephone.
"When he agreed, I was pumped. This was really going to happen. My cousin Jason waited on line all day at Giants Stadium in the freezing cold, got the tickets, Fed-Ex'd them to me and started to arrange his travel plans to Glendale. This was becoming a reality -- I'd meet him in Arizona, we'd watch the Giants take on the undefeated Patriots and be there when history unfolded before our very eyes."
Naturally, there was a catch. And not the David Tyree kind.
Fekete's wife Mindy -- the only reason either Jeff or cousin Jason even had a chance of watching Eli vs. Brady down in Glendale -- wanted to go to the game, too.
A good cousin, a better husband and a man on a mission, Fekete did the impossible: He gave his cousin one of the tickets, his wife the other, and decided to dive into the dark and mysterious world of buying a Super Bowl ticket on his own.
Idiotic? Perhaps. But he'd gone too far to turn his back on his Super Bowl dreams now.
So, he did what any Average Joe would. He went online and dove in headfirst.
"The major online sites had tickets going for five, six times more than the face value. I was shocked. I went on CraigsList and eBay -- it was even worse there. It all seemed so highly unregulated. It was like the Wild West. There were counterfeiters, there were frauds and there was little hope of finding a deal. Each day, the prices rose and rose."
So he waited.
"I just couldn't pull the trigger. I couldn't justify paying $2,200 for a ticket."
But he was in too deep to just walk away from the dream.
Just two days before the game, with travel plans already set and a distant cousin flying in from New York to Phoenix, Fekete still didn't have a ticket to Super Bowl XLII.
"There's one thing everybody in the ticket industry will tell you. Do not show up to the Super Bowl host city without a ticket. I heard it the entire week. Sure enough, I showed up to the Super Bowl host city without a ticket."
Walking around like a duck in an unknown city packed with rabid fans, media, and D-List celebrities, Fekete popped his head in and out of hotel lobbies looking for local ticket brokers and scalpers. He met one unsavory character after another. The offers he got were even more absurd than the ones he saw online.
"Two birds were in hand. One was out there somewhere in the brush."
Then, on the Friday night before the Super Bowl, Jason's wife Mindy scoured a long list of local ticket brokers' phone numbers. One by one, she inquired on tickets. One by one, she was flabbergasted by the marked up costs.
Finally, the couple came across a local company called Front Row.
"They were accredited by the National Association of Ticket Brokers, they were independently owned, and they were members of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce," explains Fekete. "They had one ticket available for $1,600 -- much cheaper than anything I'd seen in the past week. We pounced on it and bought it. Afterwards, I wanted to spike our laptop and do a celebration dance."
The rest was history.
After endless days and sleepless nights spent scouring every online ticket site imaginable and rummaging around shady hotel lobbies, Fekete, his wife, and his cousin Jason were all there in the flesh when the New York Giants upset the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
As improbable as Eli Manning's journey to the Vince Lombardi Trophy might have been, Jeff Fekete's path to The University of Phoenix Stadium that evening may have been even more unbelievable.
It's the story of an Average Joe defying the odds and getting to the Super Bowl.
And yet, for the many who hear his tale, the 52-inch TV, the couch and some tasty brews still sound like the better option for Super Bowl Sunday.
After all, who wants to watch the game with a bunch of corporate boobs anyway?