MetLife Stadium

Break It Down Again

I think I might take Russell Wilson for granted.

There.  I said it.

It’s not because he’s positioning himself to be an elite QB.  It’s not because he won a Super Bowl title in his very second year of playing professional football.

It’s because since I follow him so closely, it’s not a “rare treat” to see him in person as much as, say, someone who follows the local teams here in New York.

Prior to last Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, many Jets and local pundits were pooh-poohing Wilson’s not only effectiveness, but that of the Legion of Boom and much-glowed about defense of Seattle was not all *that*.

I thought they were all crazy.  I mean, roll my eyes kind of crazy.  Certainly if you watched this team as closely as Ed and I do, you’d see there is nothing overrated about Wilson or Richard Sherman or Doug Baldwin or Jimmy Graham…and that Seattle gets help even from role players, like Tanner McEvoy.

Plus…Did they seriously believe the Jets were a superior team?  The last time I seriously followed the Jets, Rex Ryan was the head coach, Mark Sanchez was the starting QB, Tim Tebow was the BACKUP, and I literally turned into a Seattle fan at CenturyLink as we saw them play there.

Lastly, this was the first time back at MetLife Stadium since, well, Super Bowl XLVIII.  So there’s that.

Why am I going through all this back story?  Basically because prior to the Seahawks visiting New York for the first time since winning SB48, a few notable “hot takes” said in not so many words that the Seahawks were overrated and especially that quarterback of theirs.  Seeing only his weekly highlights, of course, focus on his amazing footwork and his running game…stuff that quarterbacks aren’t supposed to rely on.

According to Mehta, prior to week four, “Wilson isn’t nearly as awesome as his Puget Sound loyalists believe, so it’s ludicrous to think that he’ll be able to hobble into MetLife Stadium on a gimpy left knee and right ankle on Sunday and have his way with the Jets.”

There is also this “narrative” that the Hawks don’t seem to do well not just on the road…but on the east coast or “10 am PST” start times.  (And touching on Russell’s leg and knee issues, which were legit concerns going into the week…yet when no backup QB was called to replace him…I knew we were in biz and we’d be seeing him on Sunday).

Pete Prisco felt the wrath of 12s with his lazy journalism on these narratives prior to week four.

This is a long trip for the Seahawks, and Russell Wilson is battling a knee injury. How healthy will he be against a good Jets front? The interesting battle will be to see if Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can battle back against a good Seattle defense. I think he does. Jets take it,” Prisco wrote.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that the so-called “experts” in New York and Seattle haters were wrong, dead wrong.

Hawks won 27-17.  I was surprised it was that close, but considering the Jets gave up towards the end (even after scoring an accidental touchdown at one point!), maybe they just took it easy? Why blow them out when they have a week off? (And you know, not kill our ELITE QB AMIRITE?!)

During the game, we had a lot of fun.  New York fans are known as being tough as nails.  But you don’t fuck with a 12.

You’d think after 48, the legend of Russell Wilson might have grown.  Yet, people are looking at him in the Northeast like they’ve finally SAW him.  Now, watch out.

Let’s recap what an awesome display we’ve seen, not just on Sunday, but going into the Bye week in week five.

Some words from a friend…

In case you didn’t get it the first time…DangeRuss got the last laugh.

I can’t say it’s anything surprising to Seahawks fans.  We know what we have in Russell.  It was also refreshing to see Jimmy Graham being utilized to his fullest potential.  Also…12s travel well.  I’m fortunate I live so close.  We were well-represented.  SEA! HAWKS!

What I wasn’t expecting was the defeatist attitude coming from Gang Green.  It was shocking since I know so many Jets fans, and they are die hard to say the least.

I can’t believe what a sad state of affairs it’s been since I crossed enemy lines.  Michael Bennett even said something to the effect that 12s would have never left when the Jets fans were leaving in droves.  I remember at one point thinking the Jets were still in the game (and I was more positive about going into the game than my copilot on the NJ Transit).  There’s no way I would have left if the shoe were on the other foot.

Play to the crowd with your big hit sound
And they won’t simmer won’t simmer, won’t simmer down
Play to the crowd
Play to the crowd
Play yeah yeah
It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light
Fast off to heaven just like Moses on a motorbike
No revolution maybe someone somewhere else
Could show you something new to help you
With the ups and downs
I want to break it down
Break it down again

In fear of jinxing things, I’ve been to four Seahawks games in person.  They’ve won all four.  I’m very fortunate, but I do know once the odds are raised, I have a better chance of seeing them lose.  I realize how fortunate I am to root for this team.  Thank you all for accepting me into the fold.

(Good 12s Twitter follows include: @DaynaOG, @DKSB17, @hipeegrl…also @Studi_metsimus if you can get over the geeky baseball stuff he posts).

Yet, going out on a high note on such a big stage has made people not only shut up, but now realize, hey!  The Pacific Northwest has got a machine here, and they show no intentions of slowing down.

Is it Week Six yet?!

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The Decemberists

Football games in December, especially in the northeast, midwest and any place typically north, are well-known to be cold.  We’ve been fortunate in New York this season though.  On days that you would expect to be just cold (not even factoring in “bitter” or “wind chill”), it’s been balmy and dare-I-say “unseasonable” weather.  My dream is to someday live in San Francisco, and we’ve been blessed with Bay Area-like weather.

Of course, not on the day I was scheduled to go a game.  But as you see, my friend and I dressed appropriately.  A few years ago, I read an article about dressing for games during the playoffs at Lambeau Field.  I remember the guy had like 10 different layers, but most importantly, thermals with the butt flap.  We don’t have it that bad, at least, not yet.  But for me, I had thermals on, a sweatshirt, my Jets jersey, jeans, a North Face, a scarf, and I had gloves.  I didn’t really need the gloves, and I had a hat for a break-in-case-of-emergency.  My friend wore her Jets cap though, for reasons other than weather (I’ll get to that in a minute).

Dee, who posts for Metscellaneous, and I met a few years ago.  Brought together by our love for the Mets (and baseball), we realized we had some eerie things in common.  We’re both only children, we like to write (which is technically how we met), we both don’t like raw tomatoes (but we like tomato-products…I have a hard time explaining this to other people, but luckily, she gets it), we love margaritas and chain restaurants (don’t judge), and we’re both born in December.  It’s irony, really, because we are not WINTER folks (though, that is her last name..again, irony), but we can identify with the season and having our birthdays overshadowed by everyone else getting into the holiday spirit.

I never got the whole “this is your Christmas AND birthday gift,” mainly because I’m an only child and my parents never were torn in other directions.  What we did get, though, was the whole nightmare of trying to plan birthday parties that were convenient for your friends, family and kids’ parents.  I have a better appreciation for it now as an adult.  But now since we’re adults, we’re taking matters into our own hands.  We not only decided to have a joint birthday party and “share” our friends and the wealth of having a December birthday (and some people can get territorial about their friends, go figure), we said, hey, we can’t go to a baseball game for our birthdays…but we CAN go to a football game.

So December 11th it was, against the Kansas City Chiefs.  I was so concerned about buying tickets for this game, yet we were told at the tailgate we went to that we could have easily waited till that week and gotten super-cheap tickets in the upper levels.  It ended up not mattering either way, and I’ll get to that later.

So first things first, we meet at Penn Station, me with coffees in hand and we chill for the train to Secaucus, and transfer to Meadowlands.  We’re there before 10:30 am.  That may seem early but when you’re tailgating, the time passes very quickly.

I went to the same tailgate I attended back in October, when I went to the game against the Dolphins.  My friend Kevin is part of a tailgate group, where they basically have a communistic set up of beverages, snacks, real food, and then other wares, like chairs and wood-burning stoves.  Kevin is married to another baseball chick I know, Sharon, and she came to celebrate our birthdays (since this was the birthday game).  Sharon ended up going to the game, which wasn’t part of the original plan, but it ended up benefiting us for several reasons.  One is that we love Sharon and she’s a lot of fun to hang out with…the other is that later on, we got to sit with Kevin and a few of his friends in the 200 level.

 

Dee and I were greeted with a strawberry margarita (courtesy of Kevin’s battery-operated margarita maker), and there were comforts of home such as yummy food and wood-burning stoves.  We didn’t really need it though, since you can see I lost my scarf and had my coat al fresco after a bit (plus I was drinking a frozen alcoholic drink).  The guy on top of the truck was leading us in a J-E-T-S chant, and the dude in the middle of our photo is Frank, the ringleader of the L11 tailgate.  There was also a filming of a television show that these dudes were pitching to Food Network, for I guess best tailgate burger.  Frank was the winner of the golden spatula.

I wanted to get there earlier, after all there were huevos rancheros on the menu there, because two and a half hours does go by quickly.  After all, times flies when you’re having fun.  It came time to go into the stadium and root for the Jets.  It was Dee’s first live football game, after all.  And yes, I’m trying to set a record for the most “after alls,” in one paragraph.

Our seats weren’t terrible, but because they were underneath the lights, we got dripped on! (It rained here midweek, but I guess the sun shining brightly for days afterwards led it to melt any ice that may have formed).  I felt like I was back in the Mezzanine at Shea, when you were underneath the awning, even if it had rained like a week before, if there was a puddle, you got dripped on.

 

 

We had a pretty good view of the field, more so than my first game of the season where I was behind the goal post.  Don’t get me wrong: those seats were awesome on the 100 level, and my friend basically just gave the ticket to me so he wouldn’t eat it.  But the drawback here were the drips…Dee had to put on her hat so that it wouldn’t drip on her head! We had a good view of Fireman Ed here (as evidenced above), but the crowd really wasn’t going strong till later in the first quarter.

Sharon told us her husband had some empties by him, and we should head down there.  Good thing we did!  We stayed there the second half, and for the rest of the game.  Look how sweet these seats were!!

 

 

We had a better view of Fireman Ed, who basically has carte blanche to do anything at JetLife Stadium.

As for the game, yeah, it was a blowout, and as well it should have been.  There wasn’t much to say except Mark Brunell came in the game eventually to relieve Sanchez, since there was no point in keeping him in there.  The Jets are now in control of their own destiny too, as far as playoffs go.  That can be a good or bad thing.  Mostly good, since they don’t have to rely on other teams losing, but then they have to depend on winning and we all know how well that can go sometimes.  I have an impeccable record for Jets games though, and now so does Dee.

When we walked out, we had another post-game tailgate to hit with another December baby, the friend we affectionately refer to as Woooooo because of his greeting on social media networks.  He is the consummate host, offering us beers, different types of foods (rice and beans, london broil, bison burgers, dogs)…there was even a birthday cake, since his is coming up this week. Sure, the cake was half-eaten by the time we got there, but it was still yummy nonetheless, and a great capper of the evening.

 

NJ Transit is ass-backwards as far as game day travel is, but we had a finite time to return which was 5:48, the last train out of dodge.  Of course, they kept us waiting and waiting and waiting, and the train Dee wanted to take back was missed by literally two minutes.  Not to fret, we decided to go outside to get some hot cocoa at Dunkin’ Donuts.  She casually mentions, yeah I’d like to see the tree.  I say, hey, what else do we have to do tonight.  So after the game, we pranced all over the city and did touristy things and made the day even more complete.

 

(Some bears made a special appearance)

As we walked towards the L7 tailgate after the game, I asked Dee what she thought about the game.  It’s a different atmosphere than a baseball game, for sure, she said.  She did say she almost liked it a bit better than baseball.  I can understand.  Nothing will ever replace my love for a spring or summer day game or even a night game, socializing with friends, drinking booze, eating nachos.  But it can get diluted for me, which is sad, but it is what it is.  Like Dee, we go to way many more baseball games.  This has to do with proximity, availability and the number of games.  I get a little jaded at times simply because I go to many games.  I can take it for granted.

Football games are special though.  There aren’t many, but there’s a lot of commitment in going to a game.  Woooooo told us there was a friend of his in the tailgate who drove up every weekend from Washington, D.C.  D.C.!!!!  I bitch and moan about NJ Transit having a pain in the ass schedule on game days.  This is especially dedicated for tailgaters too, like Wooooo and Sports Yenta (whom I met yesterday, oy!) and Frank and Kevin and everyone else.  Thank you all for hosting us and making our birthday game special.

Dee and I were bonded by birthdays and baseball, and always hated that we couldn’t spend our birthdays going to baseball games.  What a crock!  We should have been grateful for what we did have, and that’s football…but then again, we are Jets fans, so that could have something to do with it.  But now we have our own tradition and are making it our own.  So as I’ve said before, I not only gained a baseball friend, I gained a baseball sister.

So happy, happy birthday to my dearest Dee.  May all your wishes come true, and I hope you look back on this game with as much fondness as I do you!

Turn The Beat Around

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.

#FAIL

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?