Then the clock started ticking on Giants Stadium, and I made the hard-sell on my wife, who's been given at least one pair of Patriots tickets every year for over a decade by her dad. Birthday, Christmas, anything -- all I want baby, is to get into a Giants Stadium seat before it becomes QualtexCom park.
And she went for it for Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009 against the Dallas Cowpies.
If the Giants had lost, I would have blamed myself. The alarm never went off and I started the day an hour late. I left my beloved Strahan road jersey at home. I went to the game with a Cowboys homer. All the ducks were in a row for the soul-crushing massacre. Not to mention, here I am at Giants Stadium with 2 Cowboys jerseys (his wife) and my wife was in a Pats wool hat.
We finally got to the stadium without hitting any traffic at 1 p.m. The guy who sold me his tickets gave us a back route via route 46 to Liberty to Moonachie. Within a few minutes we were set up. Grill steaks, beers, snacks, and even a green football-field printed rug -- it tied the room together. I decided to have a beer.
I can't embed the photo but I have posted a fanshot and here is the link:
New stadium is in the background.
There were Cowboy fans everywhere, giddy and with their, as we say at Christmastime, gay apparel. We ignored them, although I chatted up some friendly adjacent Giants fans. We nailed 4 1-pound ribeyes and headed for the game.
There's an enormous mass of milling, pushing people at the gate. And about 40 feet out, the most enormous and dangerous-looking Giants fan I have ever seen turns around to give some lip to a Cowboys fan. And the Cowboy kid thinks he can run his mouth until the dude reaches out with his 7-foot-long arm, snatches off a cowboys hat, and throws it away to be trampled.
Being the diplomat I am, I laughed and told the guy "good job." But I also turned him back to face front and said "hey, let's go watch the GIANTS kick some ass now, eh? Wouldn't want to miss the game over that [expletive]." Meanwhile my Cowboys buddy was doing the same thing with the now-hatless Romo fan.
As soon as we got in we were separated because I ran to the seats like a maniac. I had missed the opening meaningless drives because we got a late start getting in, but no harm. We were in section 340, upper end zone.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention -- I totally took a piss right on the escalator! I just said to the guys in front of me "hey, move up a few steps, I gotta piss" and they did! No bathroom stop necessary!
Now, 340 row zillion is way up there, there was only maybe 10 rows behind me to the last row. And yet these were great seats! If you're looking for a good seat at a reasonable price this is it. It felt close, visibility was great.
I was OK as Dallas went up 10-0, but from there we basically watched a 31-7 Giants win until garbage time.
I never left my seat -- well, my seat was luckily right on an aisle. So truth be told I barely sat in my seat. There were two teenage girl Cowboys fans right behind me who laughed every time I swore in a funny way and I didn't want to be obstructive. So I sat right in the aisle most of the game so I could get up all I wanted. And that was a lot.
I put a lot of value on the 12th man, and I was absolutely the loudest and most animated person in this section. Being as it was almost all upper-deck Giants fans, everybody seemed very cool with it. A handful of fans were as animated as me and there was a lot of aisle-running for high-fives and man-hugs, which involves beating the person's back black and blue to assure them you're not gay.
I think I got about 3 beers handed to me by the wife during the game.
Now, watching a game from the stands is entirely different than seeing a game on TV. There's no idiotic commentary. You can't see replay-worthy stuff up close. You can't/don't obsess over bad calls. I had no idea Romo was going 41-55. I had no idea they were so dominant in time of possession. All I saw and felt was that the Giants were totally in this game in the first half. They had the potential when they were down and they had the juice when they were up.
The second half went back and forth, but from my seat the game was never in question. Like I said, this game was 10-0 and 7-0 Dallas battles sandwiched around a 31-7 Giants war.
Dallas tried two field goals at our end and we knocked them both down. On the first I shouted "Okay, everybody, we're going to push this to the right!" And then somebody shouted "Wait -- our right or his right?"
It was our right. Obviously. As you watching at home I'm sure enjoyed.
The second half was a party. The fans were raucous. A few times my throat hurt and I wanted to sit down but hey -- we want the team to keep up the intensity, right? Eventually we were roaring right from 1st down. And I believe Dallas did have some false starts.
At 31-17 with 5:00 to go a lot of Dallas fans were heading for the door. At home I wonder if you heard the resonating cheers of "na na na / hey hey hey / goodbye." It may have seemed it was for the Cowboys but my feeling was it was for all those Dallas fans who had showed up in droves and were leaving.
By this time I was so amped I was down to just a sleeveless tee shirt and the hig-fives and man-hugs were at a fever pitch.
Here is a photo of me going berserk. It was from a camera phone in the dark so you're spared of the details, but I'm bottom right being psycho from the aisle. Again there is a fanshot and here is the link:
Granted, a lot of G-fans also left and there wasn't a ton of crowd noise as Dallas tacked on their garbage TD. But there were no worries in that stadium. Onsides kick or not, that game was pretty much ours from after the 10-0 mark. At least it felt that way in person. If I had the money, I would go to every game.
Rather than focus on playcalling, and yard spots, and bad calls, you just get to tap into the raw force and emotion and momentum of the game. Rather than listen to the ambiguously lame duo of Aikman & Buck, you are listening to the roar of Giants fans.
Last thing: tailgating after the game, I'm sitting with 2 'Boys fans, and nearby is a big crowd of tailgaters -- half Giants, half boys. And then a few rows over, again -- a friendly mix. The battle was over, it's just a game, and we're all football fans. There was really no ugliness from kickoff to post-tailgating. Giants Stadium was a happy, friendly place.
Maybe it was the win!
I can't recommend enough that everyone try to pick up Eagles and Panthers tickets. it's a priceless experience.