Is it fun to go to an NFL game? Don’t just answer that question. Give it some thought. Think of what you want out of your NFL Sunday. You want gluttony. You want to eat with so much disregard for your stomach that if your stomach could speak, it would scream, “Please Jared, you know what buffalo wings do to us! Think of your anus. He’s a good guy! He doesn’t deserve this!” You want to watch all of the games. You want to be at a bar or on your couch with your neck twitching from computer or smartphone to TV like a bird who eats buffalo wings and poops blood. You want high fives. You want so many high fives that your hand gets numb enough to do “the acquaintance” (masturbating with a hand you know but only kinda). You want friendly faces and cute girls in jerseys who won’t hook up but at least they’re getting drunk like they will. You want this all to happen close enough to your bed that twelve hours of sleep is a possibility. None of this will happen at an NFL game and if you’re a woman, you might get punched in the head.
I went to the Patriots game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey last Sunday. The Patriots played the Jets in a really good game. Yes, my team lost, but hold on while I look at my three rings…okay I’m back. Win some, lose some. It happens. I hadn’t been to a game in two years and the most surprising part was how out of date the fan experience at the stadium has become. You say you want gluttony? Well, post-college fan, go get another student loan. You want all the games? Say goodbye to your phone’s battery by halftime. You want hot chicks? I hope you thought the Tan Mom was hot. You want high fives, friendly faces, and light hearted drunken antics? Well, that was the most glaring problem.
The NFL stadium goer of today isn’t a good person. They’re actually the worst person. Think of the guy at the bar yelling at the TV about proper form tackling. The one who looks like he has a doctorate in not getting laid. The one that has such good hands that his iPhone’s face looks like an inner city McDonald’s window. That guy makes up half of the crowd. The other half wants to fight you. Yes, you! Why? Because he’s in his fifties, smells like sausage, and the Pop Warner team he coaches doesn’t respect him enough. At the game I attended, I filed out of my row to get popcorn. A man, much like the one I just described, whispered (yes, whispered) into my ear “You fucking Patriots motherfucking loser faggot.” It was mean, homoerotic, and homophobic all at once. I laughed because to me, he’s ridiculous. He’s a cartoon. When I came back with my popcorn, I filed past the same guy who I have dubbed, “The Hate Whisperer.” Instead of telling me another one of his poems, he reached out the grossest hand I’d ever seen on a man who wasn’t an Asian delivery guy and grabbed a handful of popcorn. Again, what do I do? Fight an old man? Cry over my popcorn? Eat the popcorn and maybe get herpes? I don’t know. I was as perplexed about what do next as I am about why anyone would want to go to an NFL game.
And yes, there’s a segment of readers who will say, “You’re at an away stadium, in the Northeast, that’s going to happen.” And to a certain extent I agree. I love what happens at college games. There’s camaraderie, and a lot of times there’s some really smart back and forth banter that occurs. I love ballbusting in general. Hell, I’ve sent over forty “Manning Face” pictures to Giants fans this season (the ones where Eli looks like he’s climaxing). I know full well I’m going to get some version of a SpyGate/Hernandez/18-1 gif sent back my way. And that’s great. That’s when sports are fun. This was different. There was a fog of anger lingering above the stadium. The type of anger and angst that comes from a stadium full of older men who bet a little too much on football and think they understand the cover two defense better than the coach.
So what is it? Are NFL games less fun? Were they always this bad? My favorite sports memory is being at the Patriots “Snow Bowl Game.” I’ve written about it before, and if you love balls, you might know it as the “Tuck Rule Game.” The best part of my memory is that as the Patriots were about to kick the game tying field goal an older man started peeing in the rows. Right next to us. We could basically feel the heat off his piss. My brother, Dad, and I looked at him and he kind of glowed. He had a bushy white beard and a big snow cap and he was fat but not so fat that he looked sad. He was like a homeless Santa. During his release, he turned to us smiling and said, “I can’t miss this.” He seemed happy and truly in the moment he was enjoying. I’m not sure if this is a memory seen through the rose colored tint of my youth but this is how I want to remember attending football games. This is how I want to remember the demeanor of the people. That’s why I’ll be at the bars. Darting my head around, high-fiving, surrounded by girls who don’t look like Law And Order SVU hooker extras while, all while happily eating herpes free popcorn.