No Falcons, but Super Bowl trip means great time for WR man, son

pramati@macon.comFebruary 1, 2014 

Vernard Hodges bought his Super Bowl tickets early for one simple reason.

He just knew this was going to be the Atlanta Falcons’ year, and he wanted to be in New Jersey to cheer them on in the game.

Hodges, a Warner Robins veterinarian, kept up his end of the bargain by buying tickets for himself and his son, Vernard II, as a 2012 Christmas present.

The Falcons? Not so much. After winning a division title with a 13-3 record before losing 28-24 in the NFC title game last season, Atlanta managed just a 4-12 mark this year. Not exactly a ticket to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“I thought the Falcons were going to be Super Bowl contenders. I’m 43, and I’ve waited all my life to see them” in the Super Bowl. After last year, I thought ‘We’re almost there.’ ”

Hodges, a Falcons season ticket holder, never considered not attending this year’s Super Bowl, even though it’s between Denver and Seattle.

“Obviously, this season was horrible,” he said. “But, why not (go)? I enjoy going to sporting events.”

Hodges attended last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, which featured the infamous blackout, when the lights at the New Orleans Superdome went down for nearly an hour.

“I didn’t really get scared,” he said. “I didn’t think anything (bad) was going on. We were just having a good time.”

Hodges said the trip to this year’s game will cost him about $4,500, including two tickets in the mezzanine section of Giants stadium, three nights in Manhattan and air fare.

It will be his son’s first time in New York, and he hopes to show him some of the sights.

“I’ve got a tour planned,” he said. “We’re going to see the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the World Trade Center. He seems pretty excited. I’m hoping to show him quite a bit up there. I think he’ll appreciate it. He can see the things he reads about in books.”

With no Falcons to root for, Hodges said he’s going to cheer on the Seahawks, though he thinks Vernard II will pull for Denver because of quarterback Peyton Manning.

After years of watching the big game on TV, Hodges said there’s nothing like seeing it in person.

At last year’s game, they got to hang out with filmmaker Spike Lee, and Vernard II got a ball autographed by more than 50 active NFL players.

Now Hodges said he’s not sure he wants to miss a Super Bowl in the future -- especially if the Falcons rebound next season.

“I don’t know,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve never been to Phoenix, where it’s at next year. I’ll have to seriously think about it.”

This trip, the main challenges the duo faced were weather conditions -- from wintry roads to the Atlanta airport to a cold night at the game, with a slight chance of snow.

But Hodges said he wasn’t worried, and he looks forward to having a great time with his son.

“I hope he has the trip of his life,” he said. “And hopefully the next time (there’s a Super Bowl) in New York, he’ll pay for the next one.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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