TAMPA, Fla. – While most of us watched the Super Bowl on the big screen on Sunday, a dozen Jacksonville health care workers are among only about 25,000 people who get to go to the big game in person.
Dr. Vincy Samuel, an epidemiologist at Baptist Health, was one of a dozen Jacksonville health care workers who won tickets to attend. She and from Baptist Health rode on a luxury bus provided by the Jaguars to Tampa Bay on Saturday and attended the festivities all day Sunday.
“Everybody was really excited. Everybody was really friendly with each other. We were all rooting for different teams but still enjoying the game and having a really great time,” Samuel told News4Jax early Monday morning.
This year’s Super Bowl was different of course, because of social distancing guidelines brought on by COVID-19.
“We were in pods. We were in very small groups of people we came with and then there were spaces in between with fake people sitting next to us. We would take pictures to look who was sitting behind us and it was just a cardboard cutout, so it was pretty amazing.”
Days after finding out she was picked to go to the game, Samuel was surprised to learn her brother, Dr. Vinny Samuel, a pulmonologist in the Tampa area, also got picked to go to the game. Their seats are not together, but the brother and sister managed to spend time together at the pre-game events as well as inside Raymond James Stadium.
Samuel said the reception the health care workers received was fantastic.
“It was really an amazing feeling -- really emotional,” she said. “It was really just a great time being there with each other and to know what we’d been through and the other fans that were there that weren’t healthcare workers they were rooting us on, too. They kept talking to us. They were thanking us for our service, so it felt really great to be among such a great group of people there.”