Among the screaming fans inside U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday will be one, who sometime during the Super Bowl, preferably after the Eagles defeat the Patriots, will share a quiet moment with his brother. Thanks to many of you.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about fans turning to social media to put in all kinds of pleas for tickets to the Big Game. Some were funny. A lot were weird. Andrew Immordino’s broke my heart.
As I wrote in my Jan. 23 column, Immordino’s brother Scott Mantz died suddenly on New Year’s Eve. He was 31.
Mantz was more father than brother to Immordino. Although only seven years older, Mantz took a leading role in his sibling’s life after their mother died in a drinking-and-driving accident when he was 3, and 11 years later, when his father died of a drug overdose. He taught his brother how to dissect sports. He got him into trading cards, always happily giving up one Andrew needed. He bought his brother his first car.
“He was Superman to me,” Immordino said.
They bonded, growing up in Lambertville, N.J., over sports, specifically their beloved Eagles. Mantz’s funeral-home prayer card read: “Scott T. Mantz, February 17, 1986-December 31, 2017. Fly, Eagles, fly.”
Immordino had already raised about half of the money for a ticket to the game, in hopeful anticipation of an Eagles win in the NFC championship game and a Super Bowl trip with his brother. But it was the final score of the victory over the Vikings that told him he had to find a way to go to Minneapolis with his brother’s ashes.
On the night of that game, Immordino was home, in California, watching the playoff alone. After the end of the 38-7 game, he broke down.
No. 38 was his brother’s favorite, the one he wore for his high school football team.
“I would love to get his ashes to the game so he could see his Eagles play in their most important game of the season,” he wrote in a GoFundMe post. “I know the team could use a 12th [man] on the field!”
When I stumbled across his fund-raising page, Immordino had raised about $30 of his $2,500 goal.
A true Eagles fan, he was careful not to get his hopes up too high. “Even if I don’t get to go,” he said, “I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my brother, letting people know how loved he was, how he’ll never be forgotten.”
(That was wonderful, of course, but I wanted nothing less than Super Bowl or bust for him.)
And then $30 turned into $300 and then $1,000 and then on Jan 27, just a few days before the one-month anniversary of his brother’s death, Immordino sent me a message.
“Reached my goal! Just got my SB ticket.”
He knew a handful of those who donated. More came from strangers.
“Keep a hold of the memories and release the pain,” one donor wrote.
I had been afraid that even if he did get the money, there wouldn’t be any tickets left. But he was able to get one, through StubHub.
Back home in New Jersey, the news momentarily pierced through his aunt’s grief. Melissa Mantz raised the boys and their twin siblings.
“I am happy and heartbroken at the same time,” she said. “My boys …”
Immordino was flying into Minneapolis on Saturday. He’ll be wearing his brother’s kelly green throwback Eagles jacket. He’ll pick up his ticket Sunday and promises to send lots of pictures.
It will be bittersweet, being at the Super Bowl with his brother’s ashes and a whole lot of should-be’s.
Mantz should be alive.
There should be two brothers in the stands, sitting side by side, cheering on their hometown team.
Instead there will be one, cheering enough for the both of them, he promises.
And then sometime, somewhere in the stadium, there will be one brother, quietly telling another brother, that no matter what the outcome of the Big Game, they did it.
They made it to the Super Bowl.