INDIANAPOLIS — The downtown Marriott is exactly 711 miles from MetLife Stadium, but you’d never guess that by the fervor on the hotel’s outside patio at 3 p.m. Sunday.
This is Giants Country, with dozens of people in Big Blue gear throwing down beers, hollering like lunatics and chanting not-so-nice things about Tom Brady. One fan suddenly produces a Bose iPod player, hoists it over his head and cranks “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC. People like this.
(Think John Cusack in “Say Anything.”)
“It’s been extremely crowded,” said a man at the bar who identified himself as a very WFAN-esque Dave from Long Island. “Today’s been out of control, and there’s got to be at least a 5-to-1 ratio of Giants to Patriots fans.”
Sure, you expect a Giants crowd at the team’s hotel, but this has translated across Circle City this weekend. Giants fans have turned out in droves. Patriots fans are relatively scarce. It’s not crazy talk to put this at a 70/30 split.
Dennis Keefe is a die-hard Patriots fan from Milford, Mass., who drove in with his friends Saturday. Keefe remembers being in New Orleans in 2002, when the Pats shocked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. New England fans dominated Bourbon Street that year. A decade later, Keefe is in enemy territory.
“I think New York’s a little closer of a drive maybe?” Keefe half-heartedly theorized. “I guess their economy is doing better, I don’t know.”
Keefe admitted the fan base might be a bit spoiled. Brady has taken the Patriots to the playoffs nine times since 2001. This is New England’s fifth Super Bowl appearance in that span.
Dave from Long Island has a different explanation.
“Do I really have to say it?” he asked rhetorically. “I mean, aren’t we the greatest football fans? We are.”
Surrounded by a blue army of adrenaline and Budweiser-amped fans, I’m not inclined to disagree.
– Dan Hanzus