As promised, I will give you my take on attending an NFL game in person for the first time, some thoughts on the new stadium (despite not knowing the old one), and stories from the 4 quarters of sporting heaven that was the opening game last Sunday.
We arrived at the Satdium at about 12:15, and already I could tell it was going to be an ordeal to get to the seats by kick-off. For starters, despite my best efforts earlier in the day to find a definitive answer online about being allowed to bring in a small umbrella (NOTE: I never saw anything about it being against the rules), I was forced to check my umbrella before entering the East Gate. Of course, to do this, I had to trek over to the West Gate to check it in and then hike back... but it did allow me to snap a few pictures, like this one.
After clearing security (never seen security split by gender before... then again, up here at hockey games they just take your tickets and send you in without a shake down, so maybe that is just a USA thing), my wife and I began the long hike up to the 300 level. The long ramps were pretty bleak, and I did not see much (if any) extra decoration in place, so not sure whether it was just due to the fact the Jets were in the next night, or they will not be doing anything like that for any home games for the G-Men. After strolling past my section (not sure how I managed to do that), I got to the seats just in time for the coin flip meet up on the NFL Shield.
After losing the flip to Carolina (thankfully the only real loss of the day to Carolina), Special Teams (and Jacobs for some reason) got fired up, and took the field for the opening play. However, this is the point where the entertainment in section 314 first took shape for the day... with two guys in front of me who will be referred to as "Boss" and "Nicks". "Boss" and "Nicks" were drunk, loud, and looking for a target... which they found in a 14 year old Panthers fan, who was at the game with his father, who was a Giants fan (as asked by "Boss", "where did he go wrong as a parent?"). The good news was that despite the fact they were giving this kid a hard time, it was done in good fun, especially since the kid could fire back in the same vein when able (more on this later).
Anyway, the game started less than rosy, and our section seemed fairly oblivious to who was who out there, as they had no idea who the starting Tight End was when he got injured. They were well in the know about Matt Dodge though, as they chanted "we want Feagles!"... BEFORE the first punt no less! Anyway, the long as all get out first half was finally coming to a close, the Giants scored to go up 14-9, and "Boss" started working the Carolina kid, but the kid just took it, smiling away, as if he knew that the Panthers would score, and he just stood and applauded quietly, while "Nicks" told "Boss" he brought that on the team (man, as a whole Giants fan seem to be so easy to get down on their team).
Half Time saw "Boss" and "Nicks" go off to buy more beer (IMPORTANT: If you are a habitual beer buyer at the games, they close the tap right at the end of the half time break!), which will come into play later, but first we have a few shots of the video screen to share:
After that was a nice speech (mainly from Carl Banks) and a banner being held by what I think were Marines (not too familiar with the US Military being Canadian and all), and that was it. It was nice, a bit subdued, and just an understated ceremony, which was nice to see given how obnoxious the Jets have been acting since the play-offs last year.
Around this point, "Nicks" returns with four beer in a tray... and then he sat down. This operation did not go smoothly, and here is the end result of his efforts. "Boss" was incredibly unhappy after this happened, but they managed to buy four more beer just as the taps went off. As punishment, "Boss" made "Nicks" chug the beer laying in the cardboard holder, much to the amusement of the rest of the section.
As the game wore on, the Giants scored to make it 24-16. This lead to the funniest exchange between "Boss" and the Carolina kid, which went roughly as follows:
Boss: "See that blue square down there... what does it mean when the Giants bring the ball inside tha..."
Carolina Kid: "That's a rectangle, not a square."
Section 314: -Breaks into hysterics while "Boss" looks around like a deer caught in the headlights-
After that, despite the game going poorly for the Panthers, "Boss" left the Kid alone for the most part, as the damage had been done. Easily one of the funniest things I have ever seen at a game.
The second half also brought about some decent opportunities for some pictures:
The Giants fans near me were pretty funny and somewhat predictable as the game was winding down... "here comes 3 straight runs and a punt", which was followed by 2 runs and a picked off pass. This lead to a general concensus of "WHY ARE WE PASSING THE BALL!? RUN THE CLOCK AND END THE GAME!", which then lead to a small chorus of "CAP-TAIN CRUNCH! CAP-TAIN CRUNCH!". Needless to say, they would no doubt fit right in here at BBV with the hate for KG.
However, the game finally ended, the teams shook hands, and I made my way out of the stadium. I grabbed a couple neat pictures on the way (like so and so), and headed back to the hotel. I loved my first experience at a live NFL Game (and I would never go to Toronto to do one of those false versions either), but I highly enjoyed it and would gladly attend another game in the future.
As for the stadium, it is pretty damn grey, and unless they were just keeping it minimal due to the Jets game the next night, the place really does not look like the Giants home, more of a stadium that they happen to be the home team at. I hope they improve on this for future games.
As a final thought, despite TV having great angles and tons of replays, you just don't realize how many nasty collisions take place, and I have a far greater appreciation for how few injuries there truly are in such a violent game.