By Derek Arnold, RussellStreetReport.com
Derek is a columnist for RussellStreetReport.com (formerly Ravens24x7.com), a leading Baltimore Ravens fan site that features Ravens news and insight from the fans perspective. For more on the Ravens and to read Derek’s columns, visit RussellStreetReport.com.
Michael and his Dad enjoy VIP sideline access
For some winners of the Maryland Lottery’s Ravens Cash Fantasy game, the experience of attending a Baltimore Ravens game in person is completely novel in itself.
However, even season ticket holders – for whom going to M&T Bank Stadium is old hat – can have their horizons broadened and see something new by playing Ravens Cash Fantasy.
Such was the case for Michael Herbert of Sykesville, Maryland.
Several members of Michael’s family are Ravens season ticket holders. His father, uncle, and grandfather all go to games regularly and take Michael along. Chances are, he would have been in attendance for the Ravens’ thrilling 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots regardless of whether or not he had played and won Ravens Cash Fantasy.
Because he decided to play though – and because lady luck was clearly on his side – what would have been merely another memorable Baltimore victory became an experience that he’ll never forget.
On September 6 (which just so happened to be his 23rd birthday), Michael checked the Maryland Lottery’s website and saw that he had been chosen as the winner of the Premium Game Day Package for the Ravens-Patriots contest.
“I actually found out that I had won on my birthday. When I woke up and checked the website and saw that I had won, that was definitely pretty cool,” Herbert said.
Michael decided to take his father as his guest, as a way to say “thanks” for having brought him along all those times before.
As part of their prize, Michael and his father not only received two seats in the club level of M&T Bank Stadium, but they also got two VIP field passes for pre-game warm-ups, $100 in “Ravens Bucks” to spend inside the stadium, a parking pass, and great memorabilia from the Ravens and the Maryland Lottery.
Being down on the field with the players stands out in Michael’s mind.
“It was definitely neat to see everybody practicing and you’re only like 10 feet away from them, and it was a pretty cool experience. Obviously when you’re in the stands you can see them, but it’s a whole different ball game when you’re down that close. They’re big guys, especially the linemen.”
It wasn’t just the players that Michael was rubbing elbows with down there, though. Another “Michael” from Baltimore – this one a bit more famous – was also taking in the action down on the field.
“I know Michael Phelps walked by us. We went down with a group and Phelps walked right past us, so that was amazing, to see him up close.”
In addition to the Ravens players and Baltimore Olympians, Michael and his father also got to see the NBC Sunday Night Football set up close, all the while taking photos to document their experience.
“We were down on the field for a good 20 minutes or more, so we got to take a lot of pictures. NBC was there; they had the whole stage set up. It was cool to see all that up close. Bob Costas was down there.”
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By walking through the bowels of M&T Bank Stadium before a nationally televised football game, Michael also gained a new appreciation for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
“It was definitely cool. You don’t realize how many people actually work there. There was a lot going on!”
When the time came for Michael and his father to head upstairs to their seats, they were treated to a side of the Ravens game day experience that they were not familiar with.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on the club level, but it’s definitely a lot better atmosphere. Up there it’s clean, nice; there’s not a mile-long line for the bathroom. They have the bars up there, all the TVs, so it’s actually a great place to watch a game.”
Of course, the Ravens gave Michael and his father a game to remember as well. With their last-second win over the heated AFC rival, it was a game Michael will not soon forget.
“The Patriots have a lot of talent, so it’s always a battle with them. It was definitely a great game.”
This is Michael’s first year playing Ravens Cash Fantasy, which has been around since 2009. He lauded the Maryland Lottery’s online process for entering “yards” to win prizes, and said he’s been playing quite a bit this year.
“As of right now, I’d say I have about 22,000 yards,” Michael said, laughing.
“I’ve bought at least 120 tickets. With the online process, though, it’s so easy!”
When asked if he has any advice for those who may be on the fence about getting involved with Ravens Cash Fantasy, Michael had nothing but encouragement to offer.
“You think you’re not going to win, but it’s also a smaller amount of people that actually enter their numbers in. It’s not a one-in-a-million or worse, so you actually have pretty good odds to win compared to other games.”
The next deadline drawing for Ravens Cash Fantasy is October 16. You could win a Premium Game Day Package yourself, or even Ravens season tickets for the 2013 season, so get to your nearest Maryland Lottery retailer and get your Ravens Cash Fantasy tickets today!