There are two parts to every football game. There’s the football game itself, and there’s the tailgate preceding it (sometimes, if you’re lucky, especially on a Sunday afternoon, you get a postscript to the tailgate, by tailgating afterwards).
I attended my first Jets game of the season Monday. It was last-minute, as a friend decided he wanted to go to the tailgate party, but didn’t want to stay for the whole game. Since I’m not working full time now, and I’d never been to a Monday night game live, I figured, what the hell? You only live once, right? So off to the Meadowlands I went Monday afternoon.
Tailgating is some serious business at any football game. On a Monday though, I spent a good four hours before the game preparing and doing the pregame before actually ENTERING the stadium. When all was said and done, I left my house around 4 pm yesterday, and didn’t get home till around 1 am. All for the Jets.
Good thing they won.
Few notes about the tailgate process. You have to admire football fans for putting so much thought and effort into having the comforts of home and being able to somewhat beat the system by bringing your own food and beverage, so that you don’t spend money in the stadium. As I walked around, I saw $11.25 large draft beers…seriously? That’s more than a six pack! Although to me, the preparation and expenditures for a football game is a small fortune, but I guess you can justify it for a few reasons. My friend, as an example, joined a tailgate “group” in parking lot L11, so each of the crews provides a cooler of beverages, different types of food, each person brings something and it’s all shared. It’s not a bad idea. Plus it takes the pressure off one person who is trying to do it by themselves by having back-up. So within a half hour, I had some deep fried buffalo wings (brought to you by a guy who brings his own DEEP FRYER), Mike’s Hard Lemonade (for some reason, I don’t like beer anymore…and my friend who invited me has a margarita mixer that’s battery operated…but made pina coladas…blech), chips, homemade chili with cornbread (that was some serious chili), then they broke out the dogs and sausages, and I had seriously the best sausage sandwich ever (it was the bread that did it, yummy crusty Italian bread). I had about three dinners and two desserts.
Bad news? The day before was the Giants’ home game…and whoever is in charge of clean up neglected to provide us with clean port-a-potties.
If this was an oversight, it’s a bad oversight. For one, if you can’t handle the facility issue at your grounds, perhaps you should rethink scheduling back-to-back games in the future. Especially for events where tailgating is encouraged. Luckily, after some sleuth work, I found a non-overflowing latrine, and did my business Austin Powers-style, then resumed my pregame festivities. That doesn’t excuse that horrific oversight though. I’m not a guy. I can’t just point and shoot.
Anyway, our DJ for the festivities in L11 brought me back to my high school and college days. I heard some Nirvana, 311, Bush, and a host of other 1990s music. It set the mood right, and made me think that I really underestimated the music that came out during that time period. No Backstreet Boys or Hanson, thank goodness.
I kept going around there, getting myself pumped for the game. It’s kind of hard, when you’re having such a great time at a party, to get the motivation to go into the stadium and go to the game. I know, it’s the primary reason you are there, but if you haven’t noticed, the Jets weren’t doing that great, on a three-game losing streak. One vote in their favor was that the Dolphins were their opponent, who hadn’t won a game yet this season. The bad thing was that a loss to them would have people jumping off the rafters.
Around 7:30, I decided it was time to head in, so I bid my friends, old and new, farewell, and went into the new Meadowlands Stadium, now christened MetLife Stadium. It’s better than the old Giants Stadium in several ways, but most of all that the Giants name wasn’t plastered all over the place in this one. On Jets game days, it’s Jets-Jets-Jets stuff, and at night, there is green lighting surrounding the stadium. I’m sure it’s something similar for Giants game days (which, by the way, if you know anyone who ever needs an extra hand in taking a ticket, I’d love to see the differences between a Jets home game and a Giants home game at MetLife). But the Jets have the slight edge there, since you can just call it “JetLife” Stadium.
I still had about an hour to kill till the game actually started. But this is where things started to get a little weird, as I ran into a Mets buddy of mine, Metstradamus, who was in disguise as Jetstradamus. I saw him as I walked past a stand for the Food Network, which had a noteworthy item on their menu called Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese. Yes please! I did order it later, but I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed. It sounded better than it tasted. Worlds also collided when I found out a friend of mine, JDR, from the Rangers world of my life, was there celebrating her birthday, looking all cute in her Dolphins gear…We’re all Marino fans, at heart, I believe. Don’t be fooled…she’s really a Giants fan (sorry that I outed you babe!).
I walked around the lower-level concourse for another few minutes, then headed back to my seat. I was in the 100s level…I probably would never opt to sit there on my own, but these were pretty nice. Many thanks to my friends who offered me the seat to begin with! Here are some miscellaneous views from before and during the game, thanks to the killer zoom on my camera!
Because of the build up to the game, the downfall is that it could actually be sort of a let down. This game was not, though the Jets were really testing our patience after a particularly slow start. Then for anyone who watched knows that Darrelle Revis turned that beat around, took an interception all the way into the end zone for a TD…that set off the chain of events that led to their win. You should have also heard the ovation for the first down of the game…it was almost like they won the Super Bowl!
There were some significantly ugly turns in the game, but the good news is the Jets still have “it,” and that “it” is they can beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The Dolphins are a team you need to beat…I’m sure they’ll win a game eventually, but to make the Jets legit, they needed to take no prisoners. A win is a win is a win, so we should take pride in that. Till next week of course, but momentum is a many splendored thing.
Perhaps we can look back at this game and see that Revis play and point and say, hey that’s where the season turned around. It’s also at a point where it could be a footnote to an otherwise blah season. Trust me, I’m used to that with the Mets. I have had high hopes for this Jets team for awhile, and I hope they prove me right. The good news is, they responded favorably to a good play and turned around quickly.
So the game was the capper of an otherwise fun party before the game. Of course, I ran into Metstradamus on the train going back home. Leave it to NJ Transit to stick it to us and pretend to be an efficient organization. I can dream, can’t I?