Watching all of the hype and hoopla in Phoenix leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl XLII got me thinking back to my own Super Bowl experiences.
I have friends who work for agencies like Getty and magazines like The Sporting News who photograph the Super Bowl almost every year. But covering a team for a local paper meant you would usually only get to go if your team did.
I had covered the NCAA Final Four in basketball as well as many other big events like the U.S. Open in golf. But there is nothing else quite like the Super Bowl.
The Panthers had gotten to the NFC championship a few times but had fallen short.
The game was played on Feb. 1, 2004 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Newspaper budgets were a bit better then and The Charlotte Observer sent a huge contingent to cover the team's first-ever trip to the big game.
We sent four photographers to cover pretty much everything that happened the entire week leading up to the game.
Seeing some of the footage from Media Day on Tuesday reminded me of what a crazy event that is.
I also think that Super Bowl was the start of my strong dislike for the Patriots. Even though I attempted to be an objective journalist, I was, deep-down, a Panther fan after covering them from their very beginnings.
The Panthers played a great game in Houston in what many feel was one of the best Super Bowls of all time, but the stinkin' Patriots kicked a field goal to win, 32-29.
My dislike for the Patriots has evolved since then. I'm a pretty big sports fan and Betsy said she doesn't remember me ever watching games just to root for a team to LOSE. I do that with the Patriots. There was the Spygate incident but I think mostly I really dislike coach Bill Belichick. I've seen plywood with a better personality.
I know I'm not alone in this. And I also know that winning can make many people turn against you.
But I won't let my dislike of New England taint my memories of covering the big game.
I will, however, be rooting hard for the Giants on Sunday.