(WXYZ) — "This is on the river walk, it’s called the NFL experience,” Dr. Zafar Shamoon said as he flipped the camera on his phone during a Zoom call.
Dr. Shamoon is the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, and is one of the lucky healthcare workers selected by the NFL to attend Super Bowl 55.
"A great honor," Dr. Shamoon said. "It’s really nice to be recognized by them.”
Dr. Shamoon and two of his healthcare friends traveled out to Tampa on Friday for the game, soaking it all in together.
“Its surreal just being here and in the city," said Nate Bishop, Medical Director at Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids. "The energy is addictive.”
Bishop, Shamoon, and friend Mike Wesnar are all frontline healthcare workers in Michigan. Together, they have a Super Bowl tradition.
“Every year we go to Vegas," Dr. Shamoon explained. "This would have been our 13th year but due to pandemic restrictions, we decided it was maybe not the best.”
So Dr. Shamoon’s wife wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell sharing their story. To their surprise, the NFL sent them three free tickets to Super Bowl 55.
“This is definitely a dream come true," said Wesner, who is a Nurse Practitioner in the Emergency Department at the VA Hospital in Detroit. "It’s an honor to be here.”
All of them have been fully vaccinated, and all of them have never been to a Super Bowl in person. Now they’ll get to see their first, from lower bowl 50 yard line seats.
“I'm excited," Bishop said. "It hasn't hit yet but I'm looking forward to it.”
Their section will be filled with other healthcare workers, who like them have sacrificed a lot. After a year they’d all like to forget, they are now being gifted with a day they will always remember.
“To me this is one of my bucket list items," Shamoon said. "To be with these guys, who are like brothers to me, who helped me actually get through the pandemic, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”