Super Bowl tickets sold from $5,000 to over $22,000. A number of health care workers were treated with free tickets to the game. And one local 77-year-old man got into the game for free, spending the entire game on the 35-yard line.
He did not need a ticket because he was there to make sure everyone had a safe time before, during and after the game. He was joined by over a thousand security men and women including state troopers, Tampa police, deputy sheriffs and others hired by the NFL.
Montie Dowling, a retired lieutenant in the USA Navy is a member of the Auxiliary Unit of the Florida Highway Patrol. There were five Auxiliary volunteers working the game. They receive the same rigorous training as the actual paid members of the Highway Patrol. It requires 319 hours of training and 111 hours of classroom instruction, plus yearly ongoing training. However, they do not get paid a cent. They do it for the honor of serving. Their work saves thousands of dollars a month for the state.
The Auxiliary members handle parking and traffic control at the state theme parks, visit schools promoting pubic safety, assist with major weather events and manage the crowds at the state college and NFL games. Dowling is one of 15 members of the Northern Unit.
Since 2007, Dowling has worked all University of South Florida games, Buccaneers games, Daytona races, Gasparilla parades, Disney marathons, Animal Kingdom and others. Sunday, he had the thrill of his career working the Super Bowl.
It was a rigorous day for Dowling. He left his home in Lake Placid at 8 a.m. and did not get home until 3 a.m. He literally had to stand on the 35-yard line for nine straight hours and keep his trained eyes open to any problems that could develop. He was not one of the troopers chasing the lone streaker, but his day was full of assuring the safety of the crowd.
Dowling arrived at Raymond James Stadium at 10 a.m. to begin detail. “I had to park off scene, rode a bus to the stadium and walked a mile to our briefing area,” Dowling said.
“It was an experience of my lifetime. 680,000,000 people watched the game on TV and I was was one of the 25,000 to actually be in the stadium. I was there to observe the crowd for smoking, drunkenness and disorderly conduct. City police said inside and outside there were only 18 arrested,” added Dowling. Now and then he was able to sneak in a look at a big play. And for the Bucs, there were lots of them.
“The experience that effected me the most was the fantastic flyover, which included a B-1, a B-2 plus a B-52 bomber.”
The entire production was first class. Each seat had a wristband attached to a cup holder. The fans were asked to put it on for the halftime show. They were electronically set to flash different colors throughout the darkened stadium while the show’s star, ‘The Weeknd,’ sang. They say he actually spent $7 million of his own money to put on the spectacular Super Bowl Show.
Dowling said they were very strict about fans wearing face masks. The crowd was not rowdy at all. As can be expected for a home field advantage, there were more Bucs fans than Chief fans.
The food was pricey, however. Dowling and the other security people received a $20 food allowance. “I had popcorn chicken, fries and a drink. That cost me $22. That was cheap considering the cost of an individual game ticket,” Dowling said. T-shirts sold for $40.
“When I finally got home at 3 a.m., I went right to bed, but got up at 6 a.m. and went to my weekly volunteering at Little Lamb prison ministry,” said Dowling.
Dowling deserved his day at the game. His life of giving and weekly volunteering is living proof that no matter how old you are, you can always contribute to the betterment of mankind. Sometimes you see sad things happen to people as a volunteer and others times, like the Super Bowl, you have a chance to participate in something exciting. What added to the day for Dowling is the Bucs won and he is a big fan.