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Jacksonville frontline workers return from ‘bucket list’ Super Bowl trip amid pandemic

VIDEO: More than 7,000 of the fans in the stadium at the Super Bowl were health care workers invited by the NFL to attend the game.
VIDEO: More than 7,000 of the fans in the stadium at the Super Bowl were health care workers invited by the NFL to attend the game.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lance Roxas didn’t know why his boss wanted to Facetime with him. But he soon found out it was some of the best news he had received in months. Roxas, and 11 other Baptist Health frontline workers were invited to be the guests of the Jaguars and the NFL at the Super Bowl.

“It’s a very big deal,” Roxas said. “So it’s definitely on my bucket list to be to go to the Super Bowl. So yes, I can cross that off.”

Like many frontline healthcare workers, Roxas admits that the last 11 months have been more stressful than usual. “busy” and the chance for a trip to the Super Bowl was a welcome getaway. All of the workers had the chance to take a guest, and Roxas’ wife is a nurse practitioner, making the trip that much more therapeutic.

“We haven’t had this in a long time,” Roxas said. “The first night we got there. We kind of did a date night we went to Bern’s Steakhouse.”

Despite attendance being limited to 22,000 fans at the game, Roxas said that the inclusion of 30,000 cardboard cutouts and some creative use of the audio system helped to make the atmosphere feel more like a packed house. His seats 12 rows from the field didn’t hurt either. While the game wasn’t particularly competitive, the experience of attending a Super Bowl, and seeing all of the activities around the game made for a memorable weekend.

“The bombers flying over. That was That was awesome. I got a really good view I was looking at is right above my head. When that happened. It was it was awesome. So that I’ll remember that for sure. And just the seats were ours. It was I was like, few rows down. It was great to see them.”

All of the healthcare workers who were invited had been vaccinated. With the cardboard cutouts keeping people separated within the stands and other safety protocols put in place, the stadium was as safe as could have been expected

“They gave that they provided us with some can any five masks that we wore the whole time. And we’re were pretty spread out. So it definitely felt safe.”


About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.