It may officially be a Raiders home game, but Patriots fans are out in full force in Mexico City this weekend.
Hardcore Pats Nation followers flooded south of the border for New England’s first trip there, and they were not disappointed.
The festivities kicked off at the NFL Fan Fest, where Pats legend Kevin Faulk amped up the crowd on Saturday. Fans of all teams across the league – both American, Mexican and a slew of other nationalities – then had a blast posing with giant helmets, running a 40-yard dash, posing with cheerleaders or checking out the Lombardi Trophy.
Our favorite was a little Mexican girl in a Number 87 jersey – she knows where it’s at!
Don’t get us wrong, going to a game in Mexico City is nothing like a Sunday trip to Gillette. Fans had to be prepared before they got on those international flights, and we don’t just mean making sure their passports hadn’t expired.
Aside from the usual warnings when going to Mexico such as don’t drink the water or ice and beware of salads, U.S. citizens were warned of pick pockets (especially those on subways snatched cellphones) plus to avoid unauthorized taxi drivers following recent abductions and robberies, and were advised to generally have their heads on a swivel when navigating through the busy city streets. That was especially essential if mixing alcohol with altitude, which will make you dumb and drunk super fast!
Despite a few scary government warnings, the people of Mexico City couldn’t be nicer or more welcoming, bringing new meaning to the term “Southern hospitality.” Both teams and many of the fans stayed in the swanky Polanco area, described by Vogue as “to Mexico City what the Upper East Side is to New York.” (Yes, we read Vogue, when it’s to do with football!)
Flying in on Saturday afternoon and out on Sunday after the game, the Patriots stayed at the JW Marriott, just two doors down from the Raiders at the Hyatt Regency.
As personally witnessed, the security couldn’t have been tighter there. Airport style-metal detectors checked everyone entering the hotel and non-guests were not encouraged to go in. On game day morning, the back entrance was packed with armed guards protecting the team as they got on the buses for the stadium. Robert Kraft was escorted to his private car by security detail with a man in a top hat (because you have to keep it classy), while SWAT teams holding machine guns watched from the back of Jeeps. While it was unusual to witness, you can never have too much security and it was reassuring to know our boys were safe.
As for Gronk, he was tucked up in bed early the night before the game, and was hyped the next morning on the way to Azteca.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but man, Azteca is huge. Holding 87,000 people (that’s a good number!), it is the third largest stadium in North America and 11th in the world.
Grande Roberto was in great spirits when he took to the field for pre-game warm ups, giving a thumbs up and a cheesy grin through his helmet grill.
The Pats later came out with a bang – literally! – as an explosion of fireworks as they stormed out of their tunnel, and even louder explosion of cheers from the hyped crowd.
The 14-year-old kid below was so excited to see his hero Brady ... but didn't know who Belichick was (don't worry, we told him he was the greatest coach of all time).
In tradition with an international game, the national anthems of both Mexico and the United States were then sung as their flags shared equal space on the field.
Commentators gave play-by-plays in both English and Spanish, while "BRADY! BRADY!" is the same in any language.
For more on the actual game results, watch this space – and vamos Patriotas!