On Sunday, January 27, 2019, a week before the Super Bowl LIII, 4 former NFL players departed for Russia as invited guests of www.NFLRUS.ru to attend their Super Bowl Grand Moscow Party. Three of them Patriots Alumni:
1) Patriots Hall of Fame linebacker Steve Nelson (#57)
2) Offensive tackle Max Lane (#68)
3) Linebacker Ilia Jarostchuk (#50)
In addition, a former Pro-Bowl guard from Boston College, Ron Stone (#65), who won 2 Super Bowls with the Cowboys, and also played in the Super Bowl for the Giants (vs. Ravens), showed up at the party.
This is the first time that a group of “active roster” ex-NFL players attended this event which began 11 years ago in 2008, when the Patriots played the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. In 2008, there were only 12 American Football Fans in a bar of 120 total people. This year, there were over 1,000 Fans in the Moscow Music Media Dome.
- The group arrived in St. Petersburg on Monday, January 28, and attended a football clinic that was organized in the evening. The ex-NFL players worked alongside the local St. Petersburg coaches adding some expertise during this full pads practice. After the practice, the Alumni posed for pictures and signed autographs.
- On Tuesday, January 29, they started out site-seeing excursions by visiting: St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace. In the evening, the former players visited the GALERIA Mall.
- On Wednesday, January 30, the group walked the streets of Nevsky Prospekt looking for Russian fur hats to rival the one Max found the night before. The group visited the Kazan Cathedral. In the evening, they attended a show in the Nikolaevsky Theatre, “Feel Yourself RUSSIAN”, and experienced the history, spirit, and traditions of Russian song and dance throughout the evening. At one point, Max Lane found himself on stage as he was invited to join one of the cultural group dances.
- On Thursday, January 31, the group visited the beautiful Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, one of the main sights in St. Petersburg. The FIFA 2018 World Cup Fan Zone was still visible next to this magnificent cathedral. Then, the Alumni drove to the site of the Russian cruiser Aurora, the ship made famous for firing the first shot of the Russian Revolution in 1917. In the afternoon, the group boarded the SAPSAN High Speed Train, and traveled to Moscow. In Moscow, they were greeted at the train station by our hosts, Aleksey Tchygankov (who started the Super Bowl gatherings in Russia) and Dmitri Khaitovskiy (the organizer of our trip), and posed for pictures with the replica Super Bowl Trophy. That evening, the group was invited to a Georgian restaurant where they were able to experience the famous skewered cuisine from the Georgian region.
- On Friday, February 1, the group enjoyed the gym and spas of the AZIMUT Olympic Hotel in the morning, while Ilia attended the 10th Anniversary celebration of the inauguration of the Russian Patriarch in Christ the Savior Cathedral. In the afternoon, they all took the METRO from the hotel to Red Square, and took pictures in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral, the most famous “photo spot” of Russia. The Alumni walked into ГУМ, the famous mall that borders the entire length of Red square across the Kremlin walls. That evening, they were invited as guests to appear on a Moscow University TV show called “To the Point – The Person.” After the Interview, they grabbed a quick bite at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and then attended another Football Clinic . . . This time . . . An ALL GIRLS team.
- On Saturday, February 2, the Alumni returned to tour inside the Kremlin. The Alumni took pictures in front of all the sites inside the Kremlin walls. Afterwards, they ate lunch in ГУМ near Stolovaya No. 57. That evening, Max, Ron, and Ilia decided to see what the night life was like in Moscow.
- On Sunday, February 3, everyone rested up as the Super Bowl event started at 11PM with a kickoff at 2:30AM, and concluding about 7:30AM. Ilia shared he “has NEVER attended a Super Bowl party of this magnitude in my 26 years since retirement! WOW !!!”
- On Monday, February 4, the Alumni visited the famous Armory Museum inside the Kremlin. The day ended with more shopping in the New Arbat district, and a farewell dinner with their hosts.
- On Tuesday, February 5, the group returned to the states with a memory that will last a lifetime!