New England's cold, blistery weather can cause issues for travelers in the winter months, and a group of Patriots fans from Denmark learned this on Dec. 12. The group of 40 flew from the warmth of Miami to chilly Boston, but not before being delayed, narrowing the window of time for them to get from Logan International Airport to Gillette Stadium for Monday Night Football action.
But they made it under the wire.
The trip was arranged by Claus Elming, a fixture in Denmark's corner of the NFL universe. For the better part of nearly two decades, Claus has been on the call providing color commentary for Denmark's TV 2, and while he has been there for the Patriots Super Bowl wins, this was his first time at Gillette Stadium.
"It's my first time in Boston. It's my first time in Foxboro. I'm super excited," Claus said before the game. "I've been to a lot of NFL stadiums, but when this game came up, [I said], "Oh this is going to be so awesome."
Claus was introduced to American football when he was an exchange student and stayed with a family of avid Minnesota Vikings fans. He was hooked and brought it back with him to Denmark, and throughout his illustrious career, he has been called the "John Madden of Denmark."
With the popularity of football growing in the Scandinavian country, games are shown weekly. Claus said because the channel can't show commercials, he and his team had to get creative about filling air time. They tried quizzes, music videos and eventually listener mail. An influx of people wrote in asking how they could travel to see a game, so about 12 years ago, Claus and his team started organizing trips like this one.
This group of Patriots fans was surprised with a pregame field visit for a photo, and Claus said being able to give this group of dedicated football followers this experience was special.
"I think there are five or six have traveled with us before, so that means that there's 34 or 35 on their first time trip, some of them for the first time in the USA. This is huge for them," Claus said. "Then for them to get on the field, they can go home and say 'Hey, I was actually on the Gillette Stadium [field]. I'm not talking in the stadium. I'm talking on the field. You know, in the end zone, that end zone where whoever is going to catch a touchdown pass was.'"
Though they couldn't have known who would make the game-winning catches and highlight reel gems before the game began, Claus said that is the appeal of the NFL.
"I've been to a lot of NFL games and I've seen a lot of exciting games. I think that's one of the great things that the NFL has done. You don't know who's going to win any given Sunday or any given year," Claus said.
But on that particular Monday, the Patriots came out on top, wrapping this trip up on a high note.