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Hogs Haven Recap: The Gameday Experience

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As good as the team played yesterday we weren't strong enough to earn a W, even though we were just a few plays away. This recap is going to start with the actual gameday experience, which was outstanding, followed by the actual game, which was also outstanding. I'm assuming that not all reader(s) have had the opportunity to visit the Redskins on the road at all, much less in the backyard of the rival Cowboys. I was there in the muck for the 2nd time. If you don't give an elephant shit about Texas Stadium or my own probably uninteresting experience there, the actual game recap should be up shortly. Ignore this post.

I packed for the game on Friday knowing that the line and the locale and the 8-1 record of the Dallas Cowboys would not permit a competitive game unless fans such as myself beseeched the Football Gods with acts unusual in nature. With that in mind I gathered a relic of presumptive Football God favor in my totally rules Fleer Rookie Prominence Sage Rosenfels card. Get ready for this: In 2000 he had 172 completions for 2298 yards and 12 touchdowns playing for the Iowa State Cyclone(s??). Didn't know that? Me neither, but the reference material is at hand. That card stayed with me for every moment of the intense game. I was bragging on it to whomever would listen.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. I'm up and ready to fly by 11:30, we (my girlfriend, her brother, his wife, all Cowboys fans) make to the stadium by ~12ish before the crowd. We managed great parking tickets and were ushered past cone after cone while peasents dispersed to the mud-lots and elsewhere. I was at the Cowboys-Redskins game at Texas Stadium in 2006, and I was one of those peasents. We parked within a stone's throw of the stadium, were my arms made of metal and powered by turbines.

I hate it when they catch me without a shirt on.

But close enough to drink right up until the game, and uncrowded enough to park without incident or complaint. My gear was ugly ugly ugly Redskins hat (that I'm really too proud of) with gifted Redskins Encyclopedia shirt in burgundy and gold. (BUY THAT BOOK. ALSO: SMOKE.) And, of course, Sage Rosenfels. This was plenty to earn a fair but normal amount of heckling from Cowboys fans.

A note on those fans: I was surprised. They were overwhelmingly good natured and well behaved and the amount of shit I suffered was well within the normal limits of endearing partisan fanness, with one minor exception. I say "minor" because it really wasn't that big of a deal, nothing more than a fan telling me that I sucked, which were that enough to earn indignance I'd have to get super pissed at tens of thousands of Cowboys fans screaming Redskins suck -- that's no big deal. Accusing opposing teams and fans (but really just the teams, respect fans) of sucking is normal fair, though I'm classy enough to restrict such moral condemnation to weekdays ending in the letter 'y'.

Also minor because the perp here couldn't have been 8 years old. The story earns mention only because I used to walk up-hill in the snow both ways to work and these damned whippersnappers with  their red bulls and under armor shirts just don't understand how much more difficult it was to get away with saying "suck" at that young age.

Background: A large SUV pulls near our tailgate and out pops an elderly woman (assigned grandmother, though I have no way to confirm that), another woman (assigned mother, which is based on age differential) and two children (assigned grandchildren, it just makes sense) neither of whom could be older than 8 years old. Grandma gets out and starts trying to work over some lawn chairs with some difficulty. Since Boy Scout ethics transcend, so I thought, seething Redskins-Cowboys hatred, and grandma and mother and grandchildren were clearly garbed in Cowboys gear, I naturally offered my assistance. She was hesitant at first, insisting that she could handle it, but as it became clear she could not and I helped her anyways. She thanked me like a civilized person and I told her to have a great day. Moments later mother fell out of the back of the SUV violently and it took everything in me to stifle laughter, which I did stoicly. That's two brownie points for me since the proper Redskins fan thing to do was to point and laugh. I did it right.

But then I hear mother mutter to grandmother "I can't believe you let a Redskin fan help you." I couldn't catch grandma's response, but suffice to say I'll never help an old woman with anything ever again. Congrats on that, mother, you've made me bitter and cynical even about assisting the elderly. (This isn't true, I'll still help old women, it is ingrained in me. Mother was probably just having a good bit of fun and joking around, I'm not the least bit bitter about it. The 17 effigies I burned in protest of mother in my trashcan are just normal healthy release of emotions. Don't judge me.)

We'll return to this story after the game, as there was absolutely no incident with this group until later. The grandchildren were very well-behaved to this point, never so much as suggesting that I sucked. They did stare at us for a while though, which all agreed was super creepy.

My girlfriend's brother and I took a long walk around the place to enjoy whatever festivus Texas Stadium had to offer. In its official capacity Texas Stadium had little besides a football throwing contest, some guy shouting at people on a microphone, and cheerleaders signing autographs. Not cool. In its unofficial capacity Texas Stadium was a place alive, an atmosphere not unlike a College Football Game with rowdy but awesome fans getting pumped up for a fist fight. The Cowboys fans I met all did well by their franchise by good representation. They were loud, passionate, but I didn't have to dodge batteries.

Redskins fans really outdid themselves. You guys showed up en masse to a hostile environment. I was shocked by the amount of Redskins jerseys I saw around, far more than were around the previous year. The Redskins tailgates we came across seemed constructed by people who drink beer and be merry for a living. Every Redskin tailgate I found looked organized by someone who would not be allowed to play National Collegiate Association tailgating were it a sport. Professional job. What I witnessed were a bunch of fans happy to be at a game, mindful of the fact that they were in someone else's house, but not willing to take unnecessary shit either. Even at College games I'd rarely seen people so devoted to the craft of drawing attention to yourself with beer and team colors as I did yesterday afternoon. Outstanding, Redskins fans, and I drink to you.

Around 2:45 we started mosying into the stadium. I don't know what this article was thinking, but beers were 7 bucks. Seven dollars. The stadium itself is pretty old but holds up well; I'm not going to complain as it will be replaced in 2009 anyways by Jerry World. Speaking of which, since Jerry will no doubt sell the naming rights to said stadium, what commercial brand would Hogs Haven reader(s) most like to here in connection with the Cowboys? Get creative.

Seats were good. We had right on the 50 yard line on the upper deck just a few seats off the railing. Some people like to be closer to the action -- and I was right behind the bench of my beloved Red Raiders a few weeks back and understand all too well that position -- but I can't say I'd trade our seats for any others without serious consideration. Access to what is happening on the entire field was unmatched from our view. I don't undrstand why they wouldn't simply implant cameras in my eyeballs and make that the exclusive view of NFL broadcasts. Were I given power of production over such things, I'd happily make that decision on everyone else's behalf. You can see the entire defense and the entire offense no matter where they are on the field, how many yards they are away from the first down marker at any given moment, and what kind of formations each side is in. There would be no cutting into some dumpy angle right on the field where you get to see, maybe, 4 of 22 starters licking their fingers. It would be all birds-eye all the time.

Update [2007-11-19 17:24:58 by Skin Patrol]: I totally forgot one of the most important parts of the story. When the Redskins came out they marched right onto the Dallas Star and started a huge huddle right there, while jumping (presumably to stomp the star, or some other symbolic gesture). The Cowboys fans in my section, and throughout the stadium, and I suspect throughout the country, probably thought this was absolutely inappropriate. I thought it was sweet! This is how rivalries happen; you have to actually show up and challenge your opponent and do something outrageous to get them fired up. The Redskins stomping the star was a challenge to the Dallas Cowboys, in their house, to show up to play. And they did, and congrats to them. I thought it was pretty cool, it definitely set the tempo for the entire game and got the Cowboys fans into it immediately, if they needed such encouragement to begin with. Football is best played hostilely. .
[Then a game gets played, some 7 dollar beers get bought for my lovely girlfriend, some nachos eaten, and Your Washington Redskins fall just short of beating a very good Dallas Cowboys team. More on that below.]

The noise in the stadium was nuts. Those fans came out to Texas Stadium to get rowdy and loud and make a total mess of our ability to communicate on offense. My hat is truly off to the Cowboys fans in attendence; if the rivalry is fading, someone forgot to tell tens of thousands of people at the game. Credit is also due the Redskins fans, as I heard a loud D-FENSE chant going down while the Cowboys were on offense in the 4th quarter. It was audible where I was sitting which means it was audible just about everywhere (no one in my section was chanting it, we were high up, etc.).

After the game the opposing fans were considerably more hostile, but that happens through three quarters of drinking and securing a win in the fourth quarter. The great thing about a close game is that it's entertaining to watch. The bad thing live is that no one leaves early meaning you have to battle your way through full-strength throngs of people. This close proximity gave Cowboys partisan plenty of opportunities to yell in my face, tell me I sucked, or ask me to confirm whether a W is a W (for the 2nd time, toothless dude, my answer: "Sure is.") But again, to the victor goes the spoils, nothing I experienced even approached anything outside the normal limits of endearing fan support for their team. I thought they were good fans. Except for one.

It was obvious to me that grandchild-from-hell near our section, not older than 8, had been drinking through three quarters just like the rest of his countrymen, as he went in a well-behaved angel with a staring problem and came out as a piss-and-vinegar bastard child with a staring problem. As I was packing up the truck with my girlfriend, her brother, and his wife, he rolls down his window and screams: "Cowboys rule! Redskins fans suck!" I was well within my rights to yank him out of the car and punt him in virtue of my physical superiority (which was less than you might imagine, since I'm only a little bigger than your average 8 year old; I work out) but was raised better than to pick fights with liquored up children, especially in front of their grandmothers. But what the hell? When I was 8, saying "suck" was good cause to get yelled at or disciplined even if I were identifying something that actually sucked (like going to school or homework) in private. Were I to yell it at the top of my lungs at total strangers in public I might have been executed on the spot. What the fuck happened? By the way, while I might suck, this kid had no way of knowing that, and I certainly didn't suck in virtue of being a Redskin fan. Nothing either of us did contributed to the field result. If the Redskins "suck" for losing by 5 points to the Cowboys, that says something about both teams. The Redskins don't "suck", though even were that true, it wouldn't reflect on me "suck"ing as a fan. And this kid made that distinction -- he said fans suck. I think fans rule.

Karma exists, in any event. I went off with girlfriend's brother to scope out if there were any postgame activities (I found none of consequence) at the stadium but I found out later from girlfriend that bastard child had similarly confronted a Redskin fan who wasn't taught that confronting drunken 8 year olds was a bad idea, and he did just that. Here's her relating the story to me, so it might suffer from a bit of he said she said the kid was drunk I'm telling you:

Budweiser Boy: Hey! Cowboys rule! Redskins fans suck!
Protagonist: Hey, what are you talking about???
Budweiser Boy: Cowboys suck, Redskins rule!
Grandmother: You shut up!

So, in the end, all the liquid courage in the world couldn't save this kid from his cowardly nature (did I mention he was drunk?) as he ceded his position immediately once challenged, folding like one of those lawnchairs I helped his grandma with. And to add insult to injury he got straight told to shut up by his grandmother, far too late I'll add. We all agreed that the drunk bastard deserved more pity than disdain in virtue of being so totally blasted (he was drunk, ok?) and in the care of a crazy old grandmother who thinks it is ok for eight year olds to (get wasted!) tell total strangers they suck so long as you don't say such things about the Cowboys. You get an A+ for partisanship lady, but a F-- for raising children. Drunk drunk drunk drunk, I say.

In sum: I was impressed by the Cowboys fans, very thankful to my girlfriend's brother and his wife for accomodating us both and being excellent representatives of the team they so love, congratulatory to the Cowboys on their win, and my hat is absolutely off to Redskins fans in attendence; you completely outdid yourselves and I was proud to count myself among you all. To the kid: Drink some water, maybe take a few tylenol, and sleep it off.


PS: He probably wasn't actually drunk.