Nicollet Mall, 10:30 p.m.: Three older gentlemen wearing blue Super Bowl volunteer coats are standing on a street corner, watching the crowd pass by. One lights a cigarette, smiles at the other two, and says, “This is the best fucking job I ever had.”
Zelo, 11:45 p.m.: A dull-looking middle-aged man is engaged in an intimate conversation with a woman at least 30 years younger. She’s wearing what looks like two cocktail napkins held together with string. She is working very hard to smile.
Kieran’s, 1:30 a.m.: A guy in a bright blue sport coat decorated with the Patriots logo holds court with younger men he refers to as “his guys.” He’s their boss. A few years ago, one of his guys saw someone wearing the Patriots coat and bought it off his back for $1,000. I show another Bostonian a text from my mom, a Pats fan, reminding me that sympathy is a fine emotion, but doesn’t belong in sports. “Gawwd,” the guy gushes. “Ahn’t mawms just the best?”
Cowboy Jack’s, 2:40 a.m.: A bartender takes my order before that of the guy next to me, a brutish Philadelphian who needs a bunch of shots for his friends. He glares my way. “Fine,” he says, “you go first, motherfucker.” Our chat does not progress beyond this.
W Hotel, 3:15 a.m.: In dim lighting and amid a glossy haze, people in this lounge bar linger and leer at everyone, assessing each person as a potential celebrity, sex partner, or both. I fulfill none of these roles.
Nicollet Mall, 10:30 p.m.: A guy keeps trying to step off the curb, but a Minneapolis cop keeps telling him to wait for the signal. A different guy takes his chances and runs across. The first guy’s Boston accent is thick. “How come he got to go?” The cop shakes his head. “Because he’s an idiot.” Boston guy: “But I’m an idiot!”
Hennepin Avenue, 11:15 p.m.: A woman in a little dress walks alone, arms wrapped around herself, shivering. She looks at the sky and yells, “Why the fuck did I come to Minnesota?”
Gay 90’s, midnight: A statuesque drag queen fresh from the stage says she hasn’t noticed much, good or bad, from visiting fans. The most interesting thing to happen on this night is when the host has a local woman kicked out for standing next to the stage and stripping off her pants... to reveal her long johns. The tourists on hand cherish a glimpse of Minneapolis culture.
Lumber Exchange Building, 2:30 a.m.: The most interesting thing to do at a Nick Cannon DJ set is to debate whether that’s really Nick Cannon DJing. He’s wearing sunglasses and has his hoodie pulled up. It’s probably him. I tell a guy from Philly I’ve spent the week making jokes about Eagles fans’ dreadful reputation. “It’s all true,” he says, then speculates how many beers he’d need to punch a police horse.
Peppers and Fries, 7 p.m.: A big, bearded Eagles fan drove an RV packed with four friends all the way from Florida, spending the previous night freezing in a parking lot in Zumbrota. Earlier on Super Bowl Sunday, they drove to the Mall of America. The driver behind them suffered a seizure, smashed into the back of the RV, and sent it bouncing into a railing at 50 miles an hour. The experience left two guys “shaken up,” and they’re staying in for the night. “Me,” the guy says, “I can’t do that. We’ve come so far.” I can’t tell if he’s talking about the Eagles or the drive.
Park Avenue, 10 p.m.: One rough-looking man stops to bum a cigarette. “Thirty fuckin’ years I lived in north Philly,” he says. “I’ve been cryin’ all week. My wife and I are going on a vacation to Mexico next week, and I spent 10 grand coming here this weekend. I’m so fuckin’ broke. But they won. The Eagles won.”
Hyatt Hotel, 11 p.m.: Patriots fans drink in silence, as if at a wake. One sees Eagles tight end Zach Ertz being interviewed on TV. “Gawwd,” the guy says. “He’s crying? It’s like, I’m happy fa you, but c’moooon.” Another man shows off a small object he was given as a gift the night before by a VIP driver. It’s disguised to look like a pen, but is made of metal, and has a sharp tip on the end, which would be stabbed into the neck of anyone who tried to harm the Jonas Brothers.
Brothers, midnight: A tall young guy holding a Mich Golden Light and occasionally dancing to rap stares glassy-eyed across the bar. “Nick Foooooooles!” he yells, over and over, for 10 minutes. Eventually I notice that he’s actually there with someone, another young man, who sips at a Bud Light and says nothing. We all paid a $20 cover for this experience.
The Loon, 2:30 a.m.: Overheard dialogue, slurred: “Where’d you get that coat?” Answer: “I bought it.” I ask the barman who’s been the better customers this week. He doesn’t hesitate: “Boston. They tip. Philly fans are the worst tippers I’ve ever seen.” Anyone causing trouble? “We had to kick out some Philly fans earlier. And they were sober.”
Brit’s Pub, 3:30 a.m.: An Eagles fan gulps shots, wringing the last bit out of the weekend before heading to the airport. He wants the team to bet its future on Carson Wentz, the supremely talented quarterback who missed the playoffs with an injury. Where does that leave Nick Foooooooles? He thinks a minute. “You guys should take ’im,” he says. Minneapolis just gave him the best weekend of his life, and he doesn’t know how to repay this debt. Leaving behind a Super Bowl MVP feels like the least he can do.
More from Mike Mullen: