Last Thursday morning, Eric and I went to a rather fun event in Times Square. As you may or may not know, this year EA Sports held a fan vote to choose the athlete to grace the cover of their Madden NFL '12 game. Each team in the NFL had one athlete entered into the contest, and fans voted in a bracket-style match-up. The player entered for my team, the Cleveland Browns, was Peyton Hillis. Thirteen million votes were cast during the course of the contest, with Peyton Hillis emerging as the winner! He upset Ray Rice of the Ravens, Matt Ryan of the Falcons, and even Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. In the finals, he beat Michael Vick handedly, with 66% of the vote as opposed to Vick's 34%. Way to go, Peyton!
To add to the fun, EA Sports decided to hold the cover photo shoot in Times Square the day after the contest results were announced, enabling NFL fans to be a part of the process. Eric and I got tickets last week (once again through 1iota.com), and waited anxiously to see who would be the cover athlete (if it had been Michael Vick, I would not have gone - and does anyone else see the irony in the Dawg Pound beating Michael Vick?). I was so excited when it was announced that Peyton Hillis won! So, I got my Browns gear ready to go and we were off to Times Square early in the morning on Thursday.
When we arrived they had us line up for a bit before were allowed in to the photo shoot area. They asked if there were any Browns fans in attendance, and guess what? I was the only one. Of course, that is not very unusual. A few more showed up later that morning, but at the beginning, I was all there was.
However, when they let us into the photo shoot area, they handed out free Browns stuff to much of the crowd: Dawg Pound hats, foam fingers, caps and t-shirts. So, the crowd looked like it was made up of Browns fans! They even all got into the "barking," too. It made it a little more fun, even though I knew they were all imposters!
Hanging out at the photo shoot set
Fake Browns fans
We didn't have too long to wait before Peyton Hillis came out! He greeted the fans as he walked by, then he got right down to business with the photo shoot. It was great fun to watch - we saw him do all sorts of poses, moves, etc. And hello, is he ever cute! Not a bad day to stand around watching a guy like that in his football gear doing all kinds of athletic moves.
Peyton Hillis greeting the fans as he arrived
Time to take some pictures!
Work it, Peyton.
Kudos to Eric for this awesome action shot!
Other football greats also made an appearance: both Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk showed up and did some interviews and interacted with the crowd a bit.
Deion Sanders taking pictures of the crowd
They also did a few trivia contests throughout the morning, giving away autographed Peyton Hillis jerseys and footballs as prizes. Sadly, we didn't win anything!
For the most part, the weather held out through the morning, with the exception of one brief but torrential downpour. The people running the event were all over it though, and quickly handed out ponchos and umbrellas. Luckily, we didn't need them for long (especially considering that it POURED later that afternoon!).
At one point, some of the camera guys came through the crowd and asked if anyone was actually from Cleveland. I spoke up, and ended up being interviewed by EA Sports as one of the few authentic Browns fans in attendance! They asked me what I thought about the cover athlete contest, and the event as a whole. I told them I was a lifelong Browns fan and was thrilled to see a Browns player on the cover, and that the whole process and cover shoot event was a great way to involve the fans. I don't know if that interview is floating around out there in Internet Land or anything, so I can't share it with you, but it was fun!
I am a proud Browns fan, born into a proud Browns family. You might say I was born this way.
Tangent for trivia: did you know my grandfather had his picture on the side of the bus because he is such a big Browns fan? He shot an ad for the Cleveland Browns radio station back when I was a kid. He is a Lutheran Pastor, and his ad said he "Listens Religiously" along with a great photo of him. He now has that bus ad hanging in his basement! Way to go, Gramps!
When they were satisfied with the photos from the cover shoot, Peyton came over to interact with the crowd for a bit. The emcee of the event started by asking him to do a few "cover poses" that the fans on Facebook had been requesting: the "Witness" Lebron James move, the Heisman pose, the Victory Call, one knee with finger pointing up, and "The Belt." It was great fun!
VIDEO: Peyton Hillis obliging his fans with fun poses at the cover shoot (found this on YouTube!)
Lookin' good, Peyton.
Victory Call. Wowsa.
He then came over to the crowd to sign autographs and take pictures. He autographed his shoe and gave it to the kid in the wheelchair next to us, and that kid was just in awe. It was so sweet! I also got him to take a "guns" picture with me. He was so nice!
Goodness, he's cute.
I mean, honestly. Is it just me or are his arms actually AS BIG AS MY HEAD?
Our arms look just the same, no?
It was definitely a fun event, and I'm so happy for Peyton and the Cleveland Browns on this victory! Now, let's work on a SUPER BOWL VICTORY! Go Browns!