INDIANAPOLIS - A good night's sleep is impossible to find around here. Almost as hard as a ticket to the game.
That's Super Bowl Week, though.
The moment we land - quite literally - there's work to be done. Arrive at the hotel and check in? No time. We've press conferences to attend.
Mornings begin well before sunup and end well past sundown. The days are chock-full for everyone in the team's travel party. Responsibilities are wide-ranging and varied, but each is essential. From the daily mundane - meals, shuttle services, where do I mail a package? - to the glamorous - radio appearances, interviews with big-shots, photos with Lombardi.
But don't think this is all work and no play.
Fun is an essential part of the round-the-clock schedule.
There are fetes every night of the week. Some require a fancy invitation. Others are open to everyone. Some we can actually throw ourselves.
When else but Super Bowl Week can we get an opportunity to ask Madonna a question, ride a zip-line across three city blocks, or kiss the bricks like an Indy 500 champion?
Morning merges seamlessly into night, day into day. We're soon like pilots navigating without instruments over the ocean, unclear which way is up or down, or where the wild blue yonder ends and the deep blue sea begins.
Running on adrenaline, we're sustained by the routine.
Eat. Work. Go here. Go there. Work some more. Eat some more. Go back there. Work some more. Eat again. Work a little more. Attend a soiree. Meet friends for a drink. Hit the hay. Get up a few hours later. Repeat.
There's not even time to consider how tired we are.
That's Super Bowl Week.
But the closer we get to the game, the slower the pace. It grinds to a halt, in fact. That's when it hits us. By Saturday, we're exhausted and anxious and start staring at the clock. Minutes that once sprinted past now labor on as if waist-deep in water.
Sunday dawns, and people are pacing. Our heads are groggy and throbbing, noses stuffy and runny, throats raspy and burning … and we're still more than seven hours from kickoff.
Then things will pick up again.
The game will be a blur, the post-game an anarchic scene of media and players and confetti and hugs and sobs. When midnight comes, both teams will be partying, but only one will be celebrating.
In the haze of the predawn hours, bags will have to be packed for good and loaded onto trucks. Red-eyed staff, players, coaches, and families will shuffle onto buses, then planes, for the -thank God, short! - junket home.
That's Super Bowl Week. And that's how it will end.
Then, at long last, win or lose, it will be time to sleep.