The bottom of the box contained ticket stubs from Nebraska’s 1971 “Game of the Century” win against Oklahoma, and the Cornhuskers' 1984 Orange Bowl defeat to Miami.
These games are still considered among the best college football games, and those stubs prove Fey was there.
"I had flashbacks. "I had flashbacks of a great magnitude," said the 68-year old from Plattsmouth in Nebraska.
Tickets stubs are a great way to recall memories, such as being there in person and cheering for your favorite team. For some, they can even bring back fond memories of times spent at the stadium with family and friends. These are precious mementos that will not be lost even though schools are moving to cashless transactions for all things, from tickets to food and drinks.
Nearly all Football Bowl Subdivision schools have switched to mobile ticketing. However, Notre Dame was the only school that refused to print tickets to fans who requested them.
What about the other 29? The other 29? Illinois was one of the schools that offered fans the option, with 74% choosing paper. This was 64% in Nebraska, and 50% at Texas A&M.
Customer service is crucial during the transition, according to Maureen Andersen, President and CEO of International Ticketing Association, Palm Springs, California.
Andersen stated that a college-aged child doesn't want any printed material. Therefore, a push for digital will be a different conversation to one with an alumnus who graduated in 1942. It takes constant communication, working through a process, and talking with the fans. Pushback is inevitable when you make an all-or nothing proposition.
The traditional ticket on cardstock started to fade in the last ten years with the introduction of print-at home tickets and digital (or mobile) ticketing systems. Fans have a barcode on the smartphone that can be scanned at the gate.
Digital tickets are environmentally friendly, protect against counterfeit or stolen tickets and can be transferred online. Schools can also save hundreds of thousands of dollars on mailing costs by using digital tickets. Cashless transactions have become more popular in the current pandemic because of their safety.
Omaha fan Tom Reischlein said that he used mobile ticketing at various venues without any problems, but he preferred paper tickets after his wife suggested that they could use them as souvenirs if they saw a memorable game.
Reischlein, who is 58, said that he thinks it's a great idea that they are easing into it and giving people the option. "I have seen many older people who don't have a phone or have difficulty navigating the roads when there are so many of them."
Katherine Crawford, a Nebraskan fan, stated that her family has had season tickets for three generations. She will be going digital this year.
Crawford, 27, said that they had a great discussion. Crawford, 27, said that although my grandma was against it, she isn't a big technology person so it wouldn't have been difficult for her. It would be convenient for my mom and me, I think."
Mark Townsend of Columbia, Maryland, a collector who runs the website TicketsFromThePast.com, said paper tickets bring about a sense of nostalgia.
Townsend stated that stubs from historical NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball games have the highest monetary value. He noted that a stub in less than mint condition from Jackie Robinson's first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers was recently sold for $40,000.
Townsend stated that college football ticket stubs have a greater sentimental value because of the strong emotional bond between alumni and fans.
He said that without paper tickets, you lose the history and memory of your past, grandpa's, or "Me and my father went to the ballgame, and we still have our ticket stub." It's more about your time and the joy that the game brought you. It incites thoughts that make you remember things.
In Fey's case, his '71 Game of the Century stub leads him to reminisce about his surprise when his dad told him he was able to get hold of the tickets, the flight to Norman, Oklahoma, in a small private plane that needed its tires pumped before takeoff, and Johnny Rodgers' 72-yard punt return for a touchdown that was the signature play of the Cornhuskers' 35-31 win.
Fey stated that Fey was only 10 yards ahead of Fey when he crossed over the 5-yard line. "I swear to God, if I had a cellphone I would have taken pictures."
Fey claimed that he had put the ticket stub in his pocket when he passed through the turnstile. He then kept it in his scrapbook until he went through boxes last month.
The same goes for the stub from '84 Orange Bowl. Fey was asked by the husband of Fey's wife if he would like to go with him and three other guys on a trip to Miami.
Fey recalled the long trip by van from Omaha to Miami. Fey stopped in Jacksonville to see Iowa play Florida in Gator Bowl. He also remembered bumping into his parents unexpectedly in a concession stand at the Orange Bowl stadium.
Fey recalled his father asking, "What are we doing here?"
The most memorable play of Nebraska coach Tom Osborne's life was the two-point conversion fail that resulted in a Husker loss of 31-30. An extra-point kick would have won him his first national championship. Fey sat opposite Osborne and watched the play unfold.
Fey stated that he was tempted to discard the ticket stub at this moment.
He said, "But, I must have thought: 'Well. Someday I might want to reflect on this.'" "Now, if they get blown away 48-0 that's one thing. They were behind, and it was a great comeback. If that pass had not been tipped it might have been his.
"I'm glad that I didn't throw them away."