by Mike Cannon
On Sunday, I attended my first live NFL football game of theyear. As a Jets fan I was happy with the overall outcome, no matter howmany times the Jets feel the need to make you feel uneasy. I usually attendabout two games per year, so this was nothing new for me. However, it feels new every time.
No matter how many games I see, I’m always amazed at thescenery, the size of everything, and the general atmosphere. Attending footballgames is one of the most exciting things to do as a sports fan, especially ifyour team is competitive like the Jets have been over the past couple of years.
Over my years of going to different NFL games, I have discovered there arefans who know what they’re doing when going to games, and then there are people you cantell have never been to a game before. There are a couple unwritten rules aboutbeing a fan at games some people need to follow. I’ll use going to a Jets gameas an example:
1) IF YOU’RE A FAN OF AN OPPOSING TEAM, BE SMART ABOUT IT.
Expect to get yelled at. If you pick a fight in a stadium of 75,000people in which 85% of them are not on your side, you’re just not going to win
. It’s fine to root for your favorite team, but don’t beobnoxious about it. There’s two types of these people:
- Opposing fans who taunt, mock and yell at thehome crowd when their team is losing, which will ultimately lead to a fight orsomething being thrown.
- The guy who wears a Tom Brady or Dan Marinojersey at a Jets-Bills game just to piss people off.
New York fans arenot the friendliest in the world, and when you do it to a team, like theJets, with a history of losing and blowing big games
, they want no part ofremembering it. One of my friends, who is a Bills fan, was with me Sunday, wearing a Bills jersey. He was walking around innocently, and even he got mockedseveral times, once by a 10-year old. He handled it well, so it didn’t escalate. But don’t be the guy who ends up in the jail truck at the stadiumbecause you couldn’t take a little trash talking. Be prepared for that stuff; it comes along with being the fan of a rival.
- Don’t wearjerseys of players who were terrible for your team–New York fans are unforgiving. If aplayer was bad for their team, that player will be hated for it. The Jets have had a history of bad draft picksand busts.They have also had guys who just didn’t cut it in New York. Plus,wearing a Jets Brett Favre jersey is just lame. Get a new one, or don’t wearone at all. Jersey-wearing at NFL games is to show support of your team.Wearing a jersey of a guy who didn’t help your team is not going to be liked by anyone.
- Be creative with your jerseys–I divided this into two parts. Thefirst one explained what not to wear, but if you are going to wear one, becreative. Nothing helps make random friends quicker than wearing an oldschool jersey of a player that fans get a kick out of. While wearing a Sanchezjersey is the norm, it’s predictable. The guys who get the most fans and laughsare the guys with Ray Mickens, Adrian Murrell and Jumbo Elliott jerseys.
3) PICKING GOOD TIMES TO GET FOOD OR GO TO THE BATHROOM
This one is just using commonsense. It’s just common courtesy to consider the situation. You don’t want tobe the guy who gets screamed at by fans yelling “DOWN IN FRONT ASSHOLE!” becauseyou’re in the way of their view. If it’s 3rd and goal in a tie game, late in the 4th quarter, going to the bathroom and blockingsomeone’s view of the play is not the brightest idea. And if you do it bymistake, you BETTER hope the play works out in a positive way or be prepared toget yelled at. It’s best to go in between plays. I have found it best to goafter a punt return or kickoff. There is a stoppage in play and it’s rare forsomething meaningful to happen.
4) IF YOU ARE FRIENDLY TO PEOPLE AT A TAILGATE, YOU CAN GET FREE FOOD
Tailgatingat games is just a great atmosphere. Everyone is happy, enjoying the weather,the alcohol, the food, and excited for a day of football. There’s really noreason for anyone to be in a bad mood at one of these, therefore, people arevery generous when it comes to sharing. It’s best to look for the hardcoretailgaters, guys who come in fan trucks, party busses, etc. If they are diehardenough to travel to the game like that, they will be pleased when a fellow fanstarts talking to them, and it’s almost always a guarantee they will have extrafood and beer lying around. I’m not just talking about hot dogs and hamburgers.I’ve seen things from ribs, sushi, steaks, lobsters, meatball subs, pancakes,roasted nuts, you name it. Some people even have TV’s hooked up with inflatableseats. After the game, if it was an exciting for the home team, that’s the goldmine. After-parties in the parking lot can last hours.
5) Know the situation when leaving
Ifthe Jets blew that game yesterday, all hell would have broken loose among thefans. I have witnessed awful losses as a sports fan, mainly because I seem tohave awful choices in picking teams, like the Mets and Jets. I’ve been there for plentyof bad Jets losses, I have witnessed the Mets collapse in person numeroustimes, it’s just not a pleasant situation to be in. If a bad loss happens,there will be a lot of swearing and possibly things thrown. Expect to be pushedwhen going out of the stadium and any side comment like “uh, excuse me?” mightmake someone snap; just keep quiet. When pulling out of the parking lot, a lotof people will try to cut each other off. If it’s a big close win, people willbe more patient, be so excited that they want to embrace it by staying a littlelonger. It’s amazing how the attitudes of people change.