On our winding, 2,700-mile drive from New York to Houston, we encountered lots of fans and friendly faces. They're all looking forward to the big game on Sunday
You don't have to be a Patriots or Falcons fan to have a connection to Super Bowl 51. Along our road to Houston, The MMQB talked to people from all walks of life to hear what they had to say about their connection to the Super Bowl.
Philadelpia: Ethel Anuzzi, manager of Chubby’s Steaks, a restaurant that Matt Ryan frequented.
“Tell Matt Ryan that he's invited to come back here for a cheesesteak after he wins the Super Bowl. We'd love to see him. We don't remember his specific order, but usually the kids come in for cheese fries and a water.”
Williamsburg, Va.: Jason Miller, former William & Mary player, on Dan Quinn as an assistant DL coach in 1994.
"He cast a bigger shadow back then. He was still at his playing weight, 270... I would call him a thief. A lot of people call him a sponge, but that's not the right word because sponges suck up the good and the bad. But he's a thief because thieves come in and only take away the good."
Atlanta: Carolyn Freeman, Atlanta Falcons Bird Lady. Freeman has had 17 major surgeries and was bed-ridden for 12 years before using Falcons games as a type of physical therapy.
"I have never repeated an outfit at the Georgia Dome. I wonder myself sometimes how I keep it up, because I live off a disability check, but I just make it work. I have a stylist, she’s a student at a design school, so everything is custom-made and she gets college credit. But she’s been busy this year, so I made this outfit myself. I sketch out the idea and I search Google for crazy, wild, outlandish outfits. I love to look at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and stuff like that. I also love to go to Goodwill and repurpose stuff. I have a bedroom that has now become a dressing room, wall-to-wall clothing."
Atlanta: Laura Miller a.k.a. Falcon Mom. Each spring a pair of peregrine falcons nest on the 53rd floor balcony of Denton's law firm, in SunTrust Plaza.
"We call this pair Spencer and Kate. One year Atlanta had three or four inches of snow in march, right during nesting season. I was so worried about them that I came to the office on Saturday to make sure they were okay. There she was, sitting on top of her eggs and surrounded by snow."
Atlanta: Danny Dorminy, 60, a regular at Atlanta's classic diner, The Varsity.
"I've been a Falcons fan for 40 years. This is my hometown team. I am 100 percent positive we will take the Patriots. This is our year. I come to The Varsity every couple weeks with my brother and sister after my cancer treatments at Emory Hospital. It's melanoma and incurable, but I'm fighting it anyway. Gotta keep fighting."
Atlanta: Scott Jenkins, 51, manager of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new Falcons stadium scheduled to open next season. His previous projects include Wisconsin's Kohl Center, Milwaukee's Miller Park, Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field and Seattle's Safeco Park.
"Before this I was living in Seattle, and I loved it there. I said I might do one more stadium, but I would have to be super picky. It would have to be the right owner with the right commitment with the right team and when I saw [Arthur Blank’s] commitment to the community, to the fan, to the environment, to the architecture, I was like, OK, this is it."
Scooba, Miss.: East Mississippi Community College quarterback Vijay Miller, 19 and team manager Kialur Armstrong, 19.
Miller: "LeGarrette Blount played at East Mississippi, now I am playing at East Mississippi. It makes me think that I can do great things from here.”
Armstrong: "It's awesome to know that LeGarrette played on this [old] field here that we don't even use anymore, and now he is going to the Super Bowl."
Northport, Ala.: Anas Hasic, 23, WR from West Florida. Hasic is training for his pro day with Malcolm Butler's trainer Johnny Jackson.
"If [Butler] can do it, it gives us hope. He's like most of us in here, underdogs. No one believed in him, except Johnny."
Foley, Ala.: Lori Davis, owner of Grumpy's restaurant in Foley, hometown of Julio Jones
"My son Michael played football with Julio. He was the kicker. They had a great quarterback, Roosevelt Byrd, he threw like the wind. He and Julio kept my son busy, the first game he kicked like seven PATs. Julio was so much fun to watch. We're proud of him."
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