Almost 100 million people watched the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV Feb. 2 in Miami. Only a fraction of those viewers were as emotionally invested in the game as NISC employee Michael Brunskill.
Michael, a Professional Services coordinator in NISC’s Mandan, N.D., office, flew to Miami with his wife, Susan, to watch their son, Daniel, take the field as on offensive lineman with the 49ers. (Watch Michael share about Daniel and his thoughts the week of the Super Bowl: NISC Employee Shares About Super Bowl-Bound Son)
The Brunskills were able to visit with Daniel and take part in several of the team’s family-and-friend festivities in the days leading up to the big game. The family’s first team-related activity was a 49ers reception attended by many of the players and coaches.
“We had dinner with Daniel after we arrived in Miami on Thursday, and he seemed relaxed and ready,” Michael said. “He seemed focused, but you could tell it was different because of all the activity surrounding the event.”
They were also able to squeeze in a couple breakfasts with Daniel, along with Michael and Susan’s two daughters and their families. On gameday, the 49ers treated the families to the best of accommodations.
“The Niners organized our game experience to the ‘Niners’ degree,’ ” Michael said. “A convoy of buses brought everyone to and from the game, with the pregame ride having a party atmosphere. At the stadium it was an absolute sea of red from both teams’ fans. There were pregame activities and music concerts, and there were a lot of family group pictures and selfies being taken with well-known people.”
While the Brunskills couldn’t see Jennifer Lopez and Shakira very well from their seats during halftime, it was entertaining via the jumbotrons, and the experience was enhanced by well-timed fireworks and wristbands that changed colors with the music.
During the regular season, Daniel played an integral role by filling in for injured starters. With those starters at full health for the Super Bowl, his role was contained to special teams opportunities.
“I’ll have to admit, the darn Chiefs’ chant overpowered us Niners’ fans because we have no chant. It quieted as the Niners built a lead, but revved back up toward the end,” Michael said.
No one in the group was in the party mood following the 49ers’ 31-20 loss, but the team afterparty went on as planned.
“Daniel and the other Niners were disappointed, but I could tell they had a steely resolve to make it back there and change the outcome,” Michael said. “But mostly we just discussed when we would be able to spend more time together.”
The day after the game, the Brunskills had breakfast with Daniel, visited Everglades National Park, then returned to Bismarck early Feb. 4.
Reflecting on the season, Michael is proud of his son, and how the entire team persevered and overcame doubt and adversity on their way to the biggest of games.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey—from first hearing that Daniel made the Niners’ 53-man roster, to him starting at right tackle, then left tackle, and then right guard,” Michael said. “The season was beyond anything we could have expected.”