This season, FanHouse writers take their cameras to NFL stadiums to document what happens when you stop being polite and start getting real. Or something. We've cleverly titled it "FanHouse in the Stands."
Sunday was the type of day that makes you feel alive as a football fan. If it doesn't make you feel alive, then it probably makes you feel like you're absolutely out of your mind for sitting through the elements.
After watching two consecutive home games get flushed down the toilet, we had the feeling that, for a third straight game, we would be leaving disappointed. Fortunately, the Steelers were able to pull out an 11-10 win (the only 11-10 game in NFL history, if you haven't heard that fact the previous 4,000 times it's been mentioned) making me a very, very happy person. Even in the frigid cold and snow.
Was the win pretty? No. But they don't give you style points, and I think I speak for everyone when I say, thank God for that.
This is what Heinz Field looked like shortly after 1:00 PM ET. Green, slightly overcast, cold, a little bit of a breeze, but nothing out of the ordinary for your typical mid-November western Pennsylvania day. A lone, unnamed San Diego Charger was the only player on the field, completely unaware of what was about to hit him in terms of weather.
We sat down in our seats around 3:30 PM ET and the weather conditions started to take a bit of a turn, as you can see below.
Then, about five minutes later, things turned biblical.
That's not snow, by the way. It was a mix of snow, ice, sleet and I think a little bit of rain. At this point, the fans in the stadium started cheering, presumably because it was "snowing." Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers cut their pregame warmups about ten minutes short and went into the locker room. Welcome to Pittsburgh.
Speaking of welcome to Pittsburgh, after seeing quite a few Giants and Colts fans the past two home games, we were wondering how many Chargers fans would be in attendance since, you know, San Diego would be quite a bit of traveling. Naturally, as we were leaving the parking garage we saw a Chargers fan hanging out who actually flew in from San Diego for the game. His name is Dino, and he's pictured to the right. When I asked him if I could take his picture for the sole purpose of putting it on the internet he looked mildly concerned. After a little explanation, he was down with it. So, there you go, Dino. You're famous. Sort of.
Nice guy, just wanted to find something to eat.
Most fans, when they want something to eat before a football game, like to take part in a little tailgating, and Pittsburgh, for whatever reason, always seems to show up on the list of "best tailgating spots." Perhaps at one time that was true, but not anymore. Thanks to presold parking passes which take up almost all of the stadium lots, and the new rule that prohibits campers and RV's from entering the stadium lots, you get quite a bit of this three hours prior to kickoff.
Empty parking lots. Weak.About That Crazy Ending
By now, everyone knows about the touchdown that wasn't, even though it really was, as time expired in the fourth quarter. The aftermath has been hilarious, leaving a wake of anger and rage at the thought of millions upon millions of dollars being lost in the gambling community. Well, that, and the fact NFL referees don't know what the heck they're doing on any given Sunday. Personally, I don't care about this particular call because the Steelers won, and that's all that matters. Sure, it would have been nice to see a touchdown (even one), but the win is the important thing. Some people, however, had other rooting interests in the game. Take, for example, the guy that has sat next to us since Heinz Field opened, our good friend Butch.
Early in the third quarter, when the Steelers were still losing, 7-5, Butch was talking about how he had the numbers "7" and "0" in his weekly football pool, and the people with "crappy numbers" would be excited about their chances of winning, because, well, he figured he had no chance.
Fast forward to the final play of the game. Troy Polamalu breaks up the Chargers' rugby-style desperation play, scoops up the loose ball, and races into the end zone for the touchdown, making the score 17-10. What's this mean? Our good friend Butch was the winner of his football pool, taking home $200! I think he was more excited about that than the fact the Steelers won the game.
So, as everyone is celebrating, including Butch, laughing about his newfound riches, they make an announcement that, due to NFL rules, the meaningless extra point must be attempted. Poor Butch. He looked like somebody just took $200 away from him and proceeded to kick his dog. I've never seen a person root so passionately for a kicker to miss an extra point. To be honest with you, I was getting quite a laugh about it, but then again, I wasn't the one that was going to have $200 taken from me.
The problem is, the Steelers never kicked. They had the kicking unit out on the field, lined up, ready to go, and nothing was happening. There was no announcement as to why there was a delay, and it never occurred to us that there was an illegal forward pass that was under review.
Crazy stuff.Odds and Ends
... Worlds were colliding on Sunday when Steelers fans and Chargers fans ended up in the same place. Example: prior to the game, as we're sitting in the upper deck concourse having a beer, a Chargers fan walks up to the concession stand and asked if they sold anything else, like, for example -- wine. Wine? You're not in San Diego anymore. We all had a good laugh about that. Have a beer.
... A few minutes later, we started talking to a couple who drove in from Chicago for the game. I don't remember their names, sorry, but we found out that they were originally from Pittsburgh, and that the woman claimed she went to high school with none other than Bill Cowher.
... I'm in the bathroom after the game, and at this point the stadium is pretty much cleared out. In this particular bathroom there's me, and eight other people in there, who all happen to be wearing No. 10 jerseys. My first thought was, "wow, that's a lot of Santonio Holmes jerseys." I couldn't have been more wrong. They were Kordell Stewart jerseys. Eight of them. In one spot. I jokingly said, "Holy crap, guys, I've never seen this many Kordell Stewart jerseys in one place at the same time."
The Kordell Stewart jersey closest to me said it was the local chapter of the Kordell Stewart fan club and that, "We loved the guy. What's he going to do next? Is he going to run? Is he going to pass? Is he going to punt? Is he going to catch a pass?"
I asked if I could join and he mumbled something about sending money and making the check out to "cash."
The Steelers play the Bengals at Heinz Field this Thursday night, and as always, we'll be there.
FanHouse in the Stands: the View From 522 - Steelers vs. Chargers originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Tue, 18 Nov 2008 14:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.