Our first 2 days in New Orleans as volunteers involved shifts working with the NFL Experience. For those that don’t know, NFL Experience is a football related interactive playground where participants of all ages can compete in anything from a punt, pass and kick drill to running the 40 yard dash to catching balls from JUGS machines. We started out Wednesday by going downtown to get our credentials for the week and then headed into the convention center to check in as volunteers. Wednesday evening we were stationed at the punt, pass and kick section in the massive Ernest N. Morial Convention Center that serves as home for all of the weeks events leading up to the big game. After a busy shift of catching balls and filtering participants through the stations we headed downtown for some New Orleans style dinner at Mother’s (Po’boys, jambalaya, gumbo, etc). After getting back to the hotel late, we had a quick turn around to work the early shift Thursday morning.
Thursday saw us working with NFL Experience again, this time, however, we were spread out among several activities. Some of us worked at the same punt, pass and kick station, some as a passing station and a couple of us (including myself) got to work in the Under Armor Combine Experience area. Under Armor set up a large section of the convention center that allowed fans to act out their favorite parts of the NFL combine, the 40 yard dash, the broad jump and the vertical leap. I spent the day encouraging people to sign up through special Under Armor digital wristbands that were able to record their progress for the day on their Facebook profiles.
Throughout the course of the day Thursday I had the chance to attempt each of the drills at the Under Armor NFL Combine Experience, as well as the explore the convention center and everything it had to offer a little more. Among other things I got to see AJ Green playing with the children at the NFL Play 60 location, saw several of my Steelers fans classmates meet Ike Taylor, met, got a picture with and received an autographed photo from Russell Wilson and met, was photographed with and got an autograph from Von Miller, who was very cool as he joked around with me a little bit. Dozens of NFL players, past and present, have been on hand to participate in various events and autograph sessions here in the convention center.
Later Thursday we had a networking event, organized and lead by our own Dr. Davis, where a panel of local industry professional spoke to a large group of sport management students who were invited to attend the Super Bowl this year as volunteers. They gave us a lot of good advice as they answered many questions the student body had for them.
We finished Thursday with a trip to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. Dinner was phenomenal and words cannot begin to describe the scene on Bourbon Street, certainly not an experience I have had prior to now in my life.
Tomorrow we will have more time to explore the activities in the convention center before we head to our training for our job on Sunday at the big game, a job that has remained secret up to this point so far, but was promised to be an amazing experience. After 2 days I am exhausted, excited and ready for more all at the same time, and I can not wait to see what the rest of the week will bring.