Happy holidays NFL fans everywhere! I’m Ralph Lanier Jr., your NFL Director of Fandemonium.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday this year. I just returned home from my fourth experience, this time in New York for the Thanksgiving night game between the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets.
My wife and I arrived on Wednesday and made our way to the city. We wanted to see the Macy’s parade balloons being prepared for the big event on Thanksgiving Day. The crowd was all smiles as we took in the awesome sights! Many of the kids were so excited to see their favorite characters. They would scream and cheer out the names — “Buzz Lightyear!” and “SpongeBob!” It was wonderful to see so many happy faces. We met some friends there and enjoyed a great dinner at a small Japanese restaurant a few blocks away.
We were up early on Thanksgiving Day to catch the Macy’s Parade. I recommend to everyone, if you have the chance, spend Thanksgiving in New York and see the parade. It was truly amazing. After the parade, we did a little sightseeing around the city. We went to Rockefeller Center to see the big Christmas tree and then Times Square to shop for gifts.
We arrived at New Meadowlands Stadium and I was escorted by the NFL to the officials’ locker room to begin my Thanksgiving Game experience. I was allowed to sit in on the game officials’ meeting with NFL Network, which was broadcasting the game. It was a cool “behind the scenes” look at how the television crew and officials work as a team to make sure the fans do not miss any of the action. Then, it was down to the field for the pre-game warmups and festivities. Being that close to the players is the best part of my experiences so far this season. After the warmups, we went to our seats to watch the game.
The cold weather seemed to have an effect early on, with both teams struggling on offense. The Jets intercepted two Carson Palmer passes in the second quarter, but only came up with three points. The Bengals were able to put together a nice drive to take a 7-3 lead going into halftime.
The second half however, was when the game really started to get exciting. Two big plays by Jets WR Brad Smith, a TD pass from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes, and a stout defense were the deciding factors in the game.
The first Smith TD was on an end-around play that went for 53 yards and the second TD was an 89-yard kickoff return early in the fourth quarter. The Jets defense then finished out the scoring with a safety. The final score: Jets 26, Bengals 10.
I would like to thank the NFL and Monster.com for the wonderful Thanksgiving experience. This has really been an amazing season so far. My next event will be at one of the wild card playoff games coming up in January. Until then, I would like to wish you all a happy and joyous holiday season from the NFL Department of Fandemonium! Happy holidays, NFL fans!
— Ralph Lanier Jr.