When longtime Atlanta Falcons season ticket holder Sharon Kelly received a phone call that she was the recipient of the trip of a lifetime to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, she couldn't believe it. As the excitement spread through her, she invited along a friend she's known since high school, Kim Hartzoge, the one person she knew would enjoy the trip as much as she would, being a Falcons fan herself.
The Falcons held a contest on our official Facebook page with a chance to win a trip to the Nov. 9 contest against the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, including a roundtrip chartered flight, accommodations at the team hotel the night before, and tickets to the game. Kelly's name was chosen at random.
It was a trip made for diehard fans like Kelly and Hartzoge, with the red carpet experience turned on from the get-go.
When the pair arrived at the airport Saturday afternoon, they followed their luggage from their car to the bus that drove them to the tarmac, and then again from the bus to the plane, a perk they loved. Once they arrived in Tampa Bay, they stayed at the team's hotel, which provided stunning views of the bay, as well as glimpses of players and the coaching staff, and dined that evening at Malio's Prime Steakhouse.
Sunday morning arrived with as much pomp and circumstance as the start of the trip. The pair had breakfast with a group of sponsors and then took a bus to the stadium, where they waved to Falcons fans as they pulled into the parking lot.
Once inside the stadium, Kelly and Hartzoge exited the tunnel and walked onto the field, spotting Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White right away. Jones was in the middle of an interview on the sideline, while White was in the middle of pregame warm-ups, and caught a pass right in front of the duo.
"It was so neat," Kelly said. "We snapped pictures for almost an hour on the sideline. It was good to see a different perspective. As a fan, it was neat to see the business side of it and what goes on behind the scenes as far as the people who work for the Falcons."
The two ladies continued to walk around the sidelines, taking everything in, and ran into Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay. They had the chance to speak with McKay for a few minutes about Atlanta, the team and the fans bringing it during Sunday's game, before heading to their seats in the club level and cheering on their favorite team to a win.
"All of it was fun," Kelly said. "It's hard to say if anything was a favorite part because we enjoyed every bit of it."
// < by Atlanta Falcons.
For opportunities to participate in more contests, visit the Atlanta Falcons Facebook page.