Fandemonium hits Philly Wild-Card weekend

Happy New Year NFL fans! I am Ralph Lanier Jr., your NFL Director of Fandemonium.

My latest experience was a blast! My wife and I attended the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers in Philadelphia. We were very excited because it was the first wild card game for both of us.

We arrived in Philly on Saturday and the snow was falling, which was a completely different experience for us because we live in South Florida. It was quite chilly to say the least, but the snow was beautiful and something we don’t see everyday. We went and saw some of the historic sites, including Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin’s home and the Liberty Bell. It was our 23rd wedding anniversary on Jan. 9 and we had a wonderful dinner and experienced some of the night life in Philadelphia.

Sunday started out with beautiful sunny skies, but a very chilly wind. We tailgated with the “Philly Tailgating Fanatics” before the game in a nice warm tent they set up with a fire inside and wonderful homemade chili, ribs, hot dogs and sausages. They also brought in New York bagels and rolls. It was a great time meeting the local fans. They were so hospitable.

My experience for this game was to help the NFL uniform’s official with his duties, which included checking player’s uniforms and informing the coaches of any violations. An NFL player’s uniform has to meet certain criteria. Their jerseys, socks, pants, chin straps and other miscellaneous items must be worn a certain way to comply with NFL rules. We noted some violations during the pregame warm ups and those had to be corrected by the time the players came out for the game. It was something that most NFL fans do not notice, but it’s very important to the NFL all the same. A player can be fined if violations are not corrected before the game starts, but for this game, all the corrections were made before kickoff. I was also able to see the first quarter of the game from the sidelines, which is a fantastic experience for an NFL fan.

The Green Bay Packers started the scoring in the first quarter with a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Tom Crabtree. After a missed field goal by the Eagles and another scoring drive by the Packers ended with a touchdown pass from Rodgers to James Jones, the Eagles were able to kick a field goal before the end of the first half. The score at the end of the first half was 14 – 3.

The Eagles opened up the second half with a touchdown drive that ended with a pass from Michael Vick to Jason Avant to cut the Packers’ lead to four. On the next possession, the Packers extended their lead with another touchdown pass from Rodgers to Brandon Jackson to take a 21 – 10 lead. Then with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles closed the gap to 21 – 16 with a Vick 1-yard touchdown run. The Eagles had a chance to win the game with 33 seconds left, but the pass to the end zone was intercepted by Tramon Williams to end any chance for an Eagles victory. The Packers defense and running game were just too much for the Eagles to overcome.

Green Bay will now travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons next week and the Eagles season was ended.

I hope the New Year brings us more great NFL playoff action leading up to the “Big Game,” Super Bowl XLV in North Texas.

I will be reporting to you from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii after my next experience. Until then, enjoy all the NFL playoff action. A big thank you to the NFL and for all the amazing experiences so far this season.

– Ralph Lanier Jr.

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