Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Jesus, I must be crazy to be in a loony-bin like this."

The air outside of Arrowhead Stadium was as cool and crisp as the frost on the Coors Light can that found its way out of the ice chest and into my hand at just after 9:30 a.m. The light breeze swept across the parking lot and waved the Oakland Raiders flag that I wore as a cape as we dropped the tailgate and fired up the grill. This is the most intense rivalry in professional football. Especially this year as the Chiefs and Raiders were battling for a playoff shot. We were in the minority. It was a sea of red and white with black and silver spots here and there. There was a tension in the air, but not a hostile one...yet. At this point, it was the tension of anticipation.

It was a great day for tailgate party, and a better day for football. After a hot dog and a few more Coors we stashed the cooler and grill in the back of the truck and headed into the stadium. The walk going in was pretty fun. There was a mix of cheers and jeers as our squad walked across the parking lot. A Chiefs fan had us line up to be a part of his new Facebook profile picture (the 13 of us in Raiders gear, some with painted faces and shoulder pads, lined up as the Chiefs fan gave us the double middle-finger). We entered the stadium and found our seats. Then began the descent into madness.

It didn't take long before plastic beer bottles were flying. I saw one soar through the air as it showered the people unfortunate enough to be seated below its flight path. I didn't see were it landed, but a thousand sets of angry eyes (mine included) searched for the idiot who launched it. The ushers tried to find the culprit and started grabbing at anyone wearing a Raiders jersey. After they took a couple of Raiders fans down for waterboarding and enhanced interrogation, I saw one of the best tackles I've ever seen at a pro football game. The funny part is that the tackle wasn't on the field, it was in the isle about 25 rows up in section 341. A Chiefs fan was walking down the isle (he had been talking trash or something) and a Raiders fan (not of my crew) took off down the stairs after him in order to throw down. The Raiders fan's friend ran after him to prevent him from starting the fight (he probably saved the whole section from a bloody close quarters war). Once he caught up to his friend he didn't grab him and tell him to cool it. He decided the best way to prevent an upper deck brawl and save his friend from injury and/or jail was to run full speed down the stairs and tackle him into the seats. If you've never been to an NFL stadium, the stairs are very, very steep. The tackle sent the target flying across two or three rows of seating. Arguably the best hit of the day.

The game went into overtime. The Raiders won the coin-toss, took the kick-off, marched down the field, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked the game winning field goal.

The two dozen Raiders fans in our section celebrated wildly as the Chiefs fans marched to the gates on a trail of tears. We carried our celebration down the spiraling ramps to the exit of the stadium. I wasn't quite prepared for stepping out of Arrowhead Stadium and into Dante's Inferno. A Raiders fan that was way too high/drunk/insane was getting screamed at by a group of Chiefs fans as a lone cop was trying to prod them into moving on. Another Raiders fan was down on one knee dry heaving as his friends stood around him laughing and taking pictures on their iPhones. A Chiefs fan was wiping the blood from a fresh cut over his left eye while he accused his friend of being a Judas and not having his back. The police were everywhere, but they didn't care if you were taking a dump on the hood of someone's car. It was one of the few days that uniformed officers were actively preventing murder after murder. As we crossed the parking lot, I saw two young officers escorting a handcuffed drunk towards one of the U-Hauls that the KCPD rented to ensure that they had enough vehicle room to haul the violent offenders off to county jail. The Chiefs fans that dotted the parking lot were peeing everywhere and on everything. The puddles of urine looked like Oklahoma farm ponds compared to the Great Lakes of pepper spray that had rained off the face of someone too drunk or high to have listened to the reason of the Law. Golf carts carried 5 or 6 cops at a time to break up fights, or to arrest the survivor.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors."-Frank Gifford

I have just finished packing my bag for the trip to Kansas City and the legendary Arrowhead Stadium. I also updated my will just in case the Oakland Raiders beat the Chiefs. I am going to the game with some of the most hardcore Raiders fans outside of the bay area. Which means that for me it is not the usual "enjoy the game because I like football" type of atmosphere. There is a line carved into the concrete between these two rival teams and it is choose a side time. And when the Raiders win, I will be on the side of my friends when the Big Fight breaks out and skulls become landing zones for bricks and old mufflers. Wearing a Raiders jersey in Arrowhead is the equivalent to walking into someone's home and taking a shit on the floor, laughing about it, then using the homeowner's face to smear it into the carpet. A sane human mind doesn't do that and not expect a world-class ass kicking followed by chemical castration to come your way. Now...were'd I put that riot helmet and gas mask?