Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cool Brees in the Windy City

On Saturday morning, Jim and I headed north with David and Shylah en route to Chicago to see the Saints play the Bears at Soldier Field. Shylah grew up in northern Indiana, and has always been a Bears fan. I grew up in southern Indiana, became a Purdue fan, a Drew fan, and a Saints fan. In that order.
The wind farms in Benton County are quite impressive, and stretch for several miles along I-65.
We stopped in Lowell for lunch with Shylah's dad, Don, and paid a visit to Shylah's grandma as well. I'm sorry I failed to take at picture at Grandma's house. :(
Before long, we saw the columns of Soldier Field. A 2003 renovation expanded and updated the stadium, while preserving the historic lower portion. As a result, many people think, as Shylah says, "it looks like a giant UFO landed on top of it."
Just down the way, we spotted the Sears Willis Tower. I get so confused when they change the name of things. :)
After a short rest, we took time to relax in the hotel lobby while we waited for the rain to stop.
And we watched a little golf.
We enjoyed a papaya swizzle in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Meanwhile, my team was practicing at a nearby high school. No, I wasn't there, I just borrowed this photo from Twitter.

Shortly after the practice, the Saints sent out this Tweet, with this picture:

Just when you thought your wedding day couldn't get any better, you meet @DrewBrees pic.twitter.com/SafqDyh2hY
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 5, 2013
Lucky day for that groom! :)

When the rain stopped, we took a stroll down Michigan Avenue to 'The Bean.'
What a cool and fun piece of art in downtown Chicago. Just as we arrived there was a guy down on one knee and a girl shedding tears as he proposed to her. Shylah took their picture for them.
Then I took one of David and Shylah.
And she took one of us.

It is cool to see the city reflected in the giant steel bean. We wondered how they polish it?
Of course, we got an obligatory one of the four of us in the reflection. Complete with a few lingering raindrops.
There are also fountains...
that change color.
Bikes are available to rent. Just swipe your credit card, and you're off. I don't think I'm crazy brave enough to ride a bike in downtown Chicago, but that's just me.
We ate dinner at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant, and were joined by a couple of David's fraternity brothers and their wives, who live in the city.
We had rain overnight, but by the time we woke up on Sunday morning, I updated my Facebook status to read: 'The rain has stopped, and there's a Cool Brees predicted for game day at Soldier Field. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.) Who Dat!!'
We also happened to be staying at the Bears team hotel. On Saturday night, Shylah spotted Major Wright, and on Sunday morning, we followed these two on their way to get their cars. No idea who they are. Pretty lucky that I managed to select the team hotel... it was just not the team I was hoping for. Lol.
And the blurry guy in the pink shirt? Devin Hester. Shylah told me. :)
Since I like to get to the stadium excessively a little bit early, we stopped for a quick breakfast at Subway.
Soldier Field! Jim is wearing his favorite Loudmouth pants, which always attract a bit of attention, and I am holding my stylish and attractive NFL approved clear plastic handbag.
We were among the first inside, found our seats, and prepared to enjoy the day. And a beautiful day it was!
This is the view from near the visitors' tunnel looking back toward the field. I was waiting for my guy to take the field.
And here he is now. I have my pre-game rituals, and he has his. First off, he makes a complete pass around the field. 
From near end zone, to home side line...
far end zone...
and visitor sideline...

to touch the corner where he started. 
Ready to go.
I like it when they visit with the players from the other team. Maybe Shylah knows who this is?

Looks like they're telling a good story. Oh, and that's Jimmy Graham in the background.
Coaches shake hands.
David and Shylah are ready for the game.
And so are we! Who Dat!!
I don't know who this Bears player is (Shylah?), but he was having fun with Drew doing a little imitation of him trying to see over the line to find his receiver. You probably know that Drew isn't the tallest quarterback in the NFL. Just one of the best. :)
It seems that Drew was getting a kick out of the guy poking fun at him.
As they talked, Marques Colston walked by, and Drew decided to show the Bear how it's done.

I think he might have told him that he can actually sense where his receivers are. He doesn't actually have to see them. :)

Fun is over, and it's time to get down to business. 
What a beautiful day for a game in Chicago! So glad the Saints were scheduled to play there in October instead of December. That could get chilly!
Running backs ready to go.
That's Pierre Thomas, a Chicago native. He's on my fantasy team.
Darren Sproles.
This young fan was so cute in his leather helmet and football pants. I hope he got some autographs.
Jed Collins.
Drew Brees!
Jimmy Graham.
Warming up.

Marques Colston.

Coach Sean Payton takes the field.

A throw...
and a catch.
Time to stretch.
Oh, and there were some other players on the field, too. That's Jay Cutler.
The Bears defense...
doing their 'fire up' dance.
Charles Tillman.
It's almost game time!
Bear down, Chicago Bears!
Jimmy gets ready.

Here come the Bears!

Time for the coin toss.
The referees used a special breast cancer coin for the toss.
Saints won the toss and elected to defer.
Getting in game mode on the sideline.
Drew had a little pre-game chat with Zach Strief. Zach is from just down the road in Milford, Ohio. He's important to Drew, as he helps make sure those big bad guys from the other team stay away from my quarterback.
Thanks for having my back, buddy. Let's do this!
Drew stretches as the team kicks off.
And keeps an eye on the return.
Waiting for the offense to have a turn.
Here we go.

Here's a handoff to Thomas, who, by the way, scored me 20 fantasy points.
Since they play on actual grass turf at Soldier Field, they use a little grid to clean off their cleats between drives.
During TV timeouts, Drew has to wait for the signal to enter the huddle.
Always one of my favorite shots of Drew at a game.
It was a good game for the Saints, and that makes for a happy sideline.

Coach Payton giving the O-line some instructions.

Here's Major Wright, who we saw at our hotel on Saturday night.
He's looking to tackle somebody.
Fortunately, he missed, and Pierre went in for the touchdown!
And was congratulated on the sideline.
Having the lead allows time for conversation.
Probably game strategy. Or the best place to eat in NOLA.
The Bears made it a game at the end, but the Saints came out on top. In this photo, you can see Drew and Charles Tillman in a 'good game' embrace after the game.

And just like we used to watch him do at Purdue, he heads over to speak with the media.
He high fives the FOX Sports reporter,
answers her questions,
and heads to the locker room.
We take one last glance at the scoreboard,
and pose for a photo.
We work through the crowd exiting Soldier Field, and make it back to the hotel to pick up our car.
We head back over the bridge to Indiana,
as the sun sets on a great weekend.

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