The only downside to the trip was the 5 a.m. wake up in order to get to the airport in time. But hey, I've done much worse! Our flights were smooth and actually landed early. Easy travels! We got to the hotel, in an adorable, new development area of Jacksonville. It was situated right on a lake, and done in adorable blues and greens. If you get a chance to stay at a Hotel Indigo, do it! We had a suite, which was wonderful when it was time to get ready for dinner!
After the game, we headed down to the buses. I asked several security guards where we should go, until I was sure I was in the right area. I was still nervous, because we were outside the fence, and I just didn't know if it would work out. I shouldn't have worried! Jacob was about the fourth player out. He immediately pulled 4 people in (who I later learned were his family), then I saw him reach into his pocket to check his phone. I yelled out "Jacob!" He immediately looked up.. "Stacey?" I grabbed the husband's hand, and security parted the fence and let us through. Ok, mind blown.
Jacob Tamme is the nicest guy. Period. He immediately greeted us with a hug for me, handshake for the husband and asked us if everything went OK for our weekend. He introduced us to his aunt and uncle, cousin and cousin-in-law, and we hung out chatting.
I do not want to take away from this moment at all, because we were Jacob's guests, and he is an awesome, awesome person. But of course, I realize I'm hanging out within a few feet of Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, etc.. and then who should walk right next to me? Reggie Wayne! I asked Jacob if it's rude to ask for autographs or pictures. He said no, but because it's the family area, the guys might not. Then he called over and asked Reggie if he'd take a picture with us! I got a quick autograph, and told Reggie "You know you're my favorite." (In hindsight, I almost felt like a dork, but Reggie smiled and laughed).
At about the same time, Dallas Clark had come over, and Jacob asked him to jump in the picture.
Dallas is also incredibly nice. When Jacob explained that the husband had served two tours of Afghanistan, Dallas stopped to chat with us for a while and thank him for his service. Then he came straight over and hugged me and thanked me too! He chatted for a while, and left quite the impression. Great guy!
And then? Icing on the cake. Peyton Manning was around. I snagged a quick auto on my ticket, then Jacob got his attention. "Hey Peyton, would you take a picture with this guy? He's spent two years in Afghanistan." Peyton thanked him and posed with us! And teased Jacob about his camera skills...
Overall, a dream weekend! Of course the game experience was the icing on the cake, but just the chance to get away, have a nice dinner, enjoy a warmer climate was so amazing for us. We had a great time relaxing and reconnecting.
Despite my rants here, in our house, we believe we're just doing our job. We don't demand special attention, and half the time the husband won't even take a military discount. To get thank yous like this from Tammy and Jacob just blows us away. I truly can't thank them enough. And to hear a thank you from guys often called heroes, directed to my hero, and even to me, is really, really cool. So to Tammy and to Jacob Tamme and to Reggie, Dallas and Peyton, thank you.