She saw quarterback Tom Brady earn the MVP while sitting near fellow spectators, Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning, and NVRH nurse Lyndi Medico recalled the ways she was made to feel like a V.I.P. at Super Bowl LV.
Medico was one of 7,500 medical professionals who were guests of the National Football League at Sunday’s Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, Fla. between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The NFL reserved more than a third of the total seats occupied at the stadium to honor health care workers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And as a nurse in New England, Medico was among 75 people who got extra special attention from the New England Patriots organization.
Medico shared details of the trip as she drove home to Lyndonville mid-afternoon Monday. She said she was looking forward to returning to Vermont traffic.
It was first-class treatment all the way, Medico said of the weekend trip. She rode on a Patriots bus. She flew in a Patriots plane. She met the Patriots owner, Robert Kraft. She witnessed former Patriots stars, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowsi connect for two touchdowns.
“I’m a genuine football fan,” said Medico. “It was pretty special for those of us from New England to watch Tom and Gronk team up for those touchdowns.”
And she isn’t even a Pats fan. Her favorite teams is the Green Bay Packers, but she said the Super Bowl scene is such a cool environment because it brings fans of all NFL teams together.
She described her opportunity to go as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She said she was grateful that the NFL and the Patriots acknowledged the work of health care professionals during the pandemic by giving them access to the world championship of professional football, and she felt blessed to be there.
Medico was chosen by the NVRH administration for her work at NVRH related to the virus. She said the support of her co-workers made it possible for her to get the chance to go on the Super Bowl trip.
“Thank you senior leadership team at the hospital and to my team,” she said. “Every person there deserves recognition and deserves the opportunity I had. I wouldn’t have been able to have this opportunity without their support.”
For Medico, it was important that a COVID vaccination message was communicated through the health care professionals’ attendance at the game. Only fully-vaccinated medical workers could go. Medico said the Patriots in particular stressed the need for people to get vaccinated.
In fact, when she arrived at her hotel near Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on Saturday afternoon there was a vaccination clinic happening nearby. She said she was tempted to ask whether she could lend a hand.
Prior to boarding buses owned by the Patriots for the trip to Logan Airport in Boston, complete with a police escort, the New England health care workers were honored on the field at Gillette Stadium. They were celebrated by the Patriot’s mascot, Pat the Patriot along with Patriots cheerleaders.
They were going to the biggest football stage of them all where elite athletes perform and the most successful and famous people go to cheer, but Medico said the health care workers were made to feel special.
“Everywhere we went people were clapping for us and saying ‘thank you,’ she said. “They put so much attention on us as health care workers. I think I cried on like six different occasions.”
Special lanyards gave Medico and her fellow health care workers access to an all-you-can-eat-and-drink tailgate party outside the stadium. They got a pregame concert from Miley Cyrus with special guests Billy Idol and Joan Jett. Medico said Cyrus was engaging, making the health care people feel appreciated.
Medico’s seats in the stadium were great, she said. In a nearby private spectator box to watch the game were Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning.
She said she enjoyed the game, but felt bad for the Chiefs because they couldn’t get their offense going. She was happy with the outcome of the game since her brother is a Tampa Bay fan. As the seconds ticked down to zero in the game and the Buccaneers victory was celebrated, Medico opened a Facetime call with her brother so he could see the celebration through her phone.
Medico said she’s glad she could watch history being made in the NFL. Sunday’s game was the first time the host football stadium was the home stadium of a participating team.
She didn’t back to her hotel room in Foxborough until about 4 a.m. Monday. Thankfully, she said, the hotel gave her a late checkout so she could get some sleep before the drive home.
She’ll be working remotely until a COVID test comes back negative. The earliest she’ll be back on the NVRH job that made it possible for her trip of a lifetime will be next Wednesday.
“I’m still like trying to catch my breath,” she said Monday afternoon. “Was I really there yesterday? Talk about a bucket list event.”