This morning I took my rental car and made the 4 hour drive down south and across the state to Miami.
I arrived at South Beach at little past 11, checked into my hotel, unpacked and hit the beach, It was a picture perfect November South Florida day at 82 degrees. I spent the afternoon on the beach and the night hanging out on Ocean Ave and Lincoln Road.
I slept in on Sunday and headed over to the stadium around 10:45 AM.
Today’s game featured a special treat for me! My good friend’s nephew is the radio broadcaster for the Jets and is in town to call the game. He was nice enough to get me a pre-game field pass which is pretty awesome since I’ve never been on an NFL field on game day.
Hard Rock Stadium is located in Miami Gardens which is typically a 25 minute drive over I-95, but on gameday it is hell and took me over 90 minutes. There is one road from the turnpike into and out of the stadium which makes things so much worse. Normally, this kind of traffic would give me a frigging migraine, but I was excited about getting onto the field, so I dealt with it.
Hard Rock Stadium opened in 1997 as Joe Robbie stadium (named after the Dolphins late owner) and has gone through a number of name changes since before getting its current name in 2016. In addition to be the Dolphins home, the stadium also hosts the annual Orange Bowl and has hosted five Super Bowls. It was also the home of the Florida Marlins from their inception in 1993 to 2011. I cannot imagine how the hell they were able to play baseball games in an outdoor stadium in South Florida for 18 summers. During this time, the Marlins won 2 World series and I’m sure October night baseball was pretty nice.
The stadium actually has a sleek and modern design unlike some of the other hideous concrete monoliths other NFL teams plays in, but is showing signs of age.
I made my way from the distant parking area past a mile or so of tailgaters (some with really impressive setups) and to the main gate.The concourse is wide, clean and well-marked and easy to navigate.
I got to my seating section and went down to the front to meet Bobby and get my pass.
It was actually very cool being on the field and getting to see the players warm up. I was on the sidelines along with a number of other folks many of who were friends and family of some of the Jet players. Some of the players eventually came over to see their friends. I was standing next to a group who knew Brandon Marshall who came over to talk to them then started to play catch with a teenage kid. I must of had a sad or jealous look on my face because the kid handed me the ball and let me toss it to Marshall, who tossed it back to me. Luckily I caught it and didn’t look like an ass in front of everyone.
My seat was great but was in the direct sun and, even in November, the Miami sun is hot as all hell.
The crowd turnout wasn’t as great as some of the other stadiums and there was a lot of vulgar comments from the fans being directed at both Jet and Dolphin players (mainly towards Jets players)
Starving from my strenuous workout of throwing a football to Brandon Marshall, I got the jump on the halftime rush to get something to eat.
There is a really nice dining concourse with dozen of vendors and plenty of bench/table seating on the main level. This area also has dozens of TVs all broadcasting different live NFL games. It amazed how many people were sitting watching the other games on TV while there was live action on the field .
The food options pale miserably compared to what’s offered at Marlins Park. There’s nothing here representative of the unique Miami Cuban fare. A couple of nice options are Shula Burger or Shorty’s BBQ. Overall the food options are pretty average.
The game was a seesaw battle. A botched Dolphins punt led to a touchdown that put New York ahead 23-20. Rookie Kenyan Drake returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards untouched to put the Fins up 27-23. That score held up giving the Dolphins their third win in a row to pull even on the year at 4-4.
The Jets hurt themselves with four personal foul penalties, two interceptions thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick and numerous missed chances.
Jay Ajayi rushed for 111 yards finished 89 yards short in his bid to have three consecutive 200-yard games.
Dolphin fans were really into it when a peak moment for the ‘Fins occurred, but were quick to bitch and complain when they didn’t deliver.
Looking to get a jump on the traffic, I made my exit with about 6 minutes left in the game. The strategy worked as I got to my car and made a clean getaway and was back in South Beach in under 30 minutes! I spent my final few hours enjoying the beauty of Miami then headed to the airport. There are not many things as depressing as leaving south Florida in November and going back to NJ.
Fans – C – A bit on the crude side, at least the ones that I dealt with. I know it was hot, but it’s Miami – lighten up
Features – C – The area by the food court with all the tables and TVs with other games on was kind of nice
Location – C – Kind of remote and tough to get to. Nothing to do near by.
Food – C – Nothing exceptional
Game – A – Good back and forth contest. An INT and Kick return for a TD
Overall Experience – C – So many fun things to do in Miami on a sunny Sunday, maybe going to the Fins game isn’t the highest on the list. I loved South Beach as always