As a friend so beautifully put it, “It’s like never doing a drug and going right for heroin.”
Last night was not only my first Monday Night Football game, but my first NFL experience, and it was ahhh-maze-ing (that’s my feeble attempt at blog-enunciating “amazing” with enthusiasm)!!
I’d promise multiple photos of my night, but I know me better than that and considering I snapped last night’s madness on the same digital camera still holding photos from my August beach trip, I probably wouldn’t fulfill that promise for months to come. But, I was decked out in some borrowed Carolina Panthers gear, waiting to see their clash for the number one slot in NFC South, and looking like a pretty damn adorable fan if I say so myself.
Despite bundling up – I’m talking two pairs of socks (including toe socks that went up to my knees), a pair of shorts under my jeans, four shirts (tank, long-sleeve thermal, hoodie, jersey), the hat, gloves and a scarf – I was cold for the entire evening, but whenever big plays occurred and the fans jumped to their feet, banging the seats as the Panthers tried to shut down the Tampa Bay offense, I’d warm up for about two minutes. Ha. The boyfriend would grab me and hold me when I began to visibly shiver, but otherwise, I was left to my own devices of dancing stupidly and doing cardio exercises to keep as toasty as possible.
Regardless of the weather – which, hello, I’m from Pennsylvania and should have been able to handle – it was a spectacular experience, from the tailgating – oh, and they do it big with chicken kabobs, steak, ribs, the works! – to the “LET’S GO PANTHERS” as we walked into the stadium and the high fives to people we’ll never see again. I’ve always loved football, and this game – even if it wasn’t my team, which yes, is the Dallas Cowboys – was fabulous!
I wasn’t a diehard Penn State fan until my ass was planted in one of the many college football epicenters. The environment was intoxicating and I couldn’t help but completely fall in love with Nittany Lions football. I may not be a Panthers fan, yet – the boyfriend is pretty damn determined to convert me – but damn do I love the NFL and MNF.
And although I’m currently sitting at work with only six hours of sleep under my belt – and only three hours from Sunday into Monday – I’m still high from the adrenaline rush of watching the Panthers kill the Buccaneers 38-23 last night. Carolina winning definitely topped off the night in the proper fashion.
I may not be a sports-guru, or that amazing chick every guy lusts over because she’s so-into sports and yet, still straight. However, college football is my thing, and – I’m sure you’ve noticed by now – Penn State is not just my team, but my alma mater.
And like every other Nittany Lion fan in the world, I cringed on Saturday when, with one second remaining on the game clock, Iowa kicked a field goal and ruined our perfect season, 24-23 … yep, with one second left.
By the way, when I say “cringed,” I actually mean I cursed, a lot, and told people who laughed in my face to do things that are rather inappropriate considering I was serving tables at the time. I digress.
This weekend the boys in blue and white head into Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. and face the Indiana Hoosiers who, with 1-5 in the Big Ten conference and 3-7 overall, will likely fail miserably on the field (or so I hope). Despite our mild offensive line in the last two games, scoring only 36 points overall, I hope they can come back this week and not just trample the Hoosiers – um, what the fuck is a Hoosier anyway? – but prepare themselves, mentally and physically, to likewise dominate Michigan State next weekend – away game, uh oh – and give us an 11-1/7-1 season, even though we all hoped to end undefeated.
Projections say we’ll be headed for the Rose Bowl this year, potentially against USC, and I just hope those boys get their shit together fast and don’t let us fans down in the final two weeks.
It’s amazing, if you ask me, that we can go from instilling this in our opponents at the end of a game:
Such a change, and in just two weeks, with a bye week squeezed between games. Ohio State played harder, they played with more on the line, than Iowa did going into last week’s matchup. And with barely a moment remaining, every hope of a BCS championship game was lost this season.
It’s seriously time for those PSU boys, currently ranked 7th (a drop from 3rd before the Iowa State game) to step up and finish the season without further disappointment. It’s one thing for us fans to be left with a frown, but nobody wants to disappoint JoePa. I mean, look at that face:
How can you really let him down? LET’S GO STATE!
Dear Joseph Paterno (may I call you JoePa?):
As my favorite octogenarian – mostly by default since my eldest grandparent (my maternal grandfather) was born after 1930 and my great-grandmother (paternal side) has already hit the 90-year mark – I have a humble favor to ask of you.
Please, please do not leave Penn State.
I know there is pressure, unfortunately, from outside sources – media sources even – to relinquish your coveted position once your contract expires following this season. And while these forces are clearly unspoken of and people such as athletic director Tim Curley – who I’ve spoken to in the past, though he likely would not recall – only tout your accomplishments, I think we both know that the PSU administration, including Graham Spanier himself, would prefer you walk off the field before a hearse must do the job.
And while this thought may seem morbid, those of us who are and forever remain die-hard Penn State fans believe Beaver Stadium – respectfully known as “The House that JoePa Built” – is where you should stay until your (God forbid!) final days.
This year’s team, 7-0 thus far, has gone far beyond many of our hopes, and you have led them to those numerous victories only two months into the season, though we acknowledge a few challenges (i.e. Ohio State and potentially Michigan State) remain in the weeks ahead. We recognize how much truly rides on each week’s game as we Tweet our PSU commitment – “WE ARE … PENN STATE” – and proudly wear alumni T-shirts from dawn until awakening Sunday mornings from our drunken slumbers.
Some of us sport that dedication – albeit to the memories and the University as a whole – every day, as I do with the tattoo on my left foot. And some of us are the first to tear down an Ohio State Fan – BOOOOOOOOOOOO! – when he attempts to tell me (true story) that on Oct. 8, 2005, as rain poured from above and I stood shivering in the bleachers – but overcome with more Penn State pride than any day beforehand – OSU defeated PSU, when I know, for certain, the truth behind that outcome, for I was there as my fellow fanatics jumped from the stands and stormed the field in a fit of joyous celebration as we beat those Buckeyes 17-10.
I graduated from that school, and sadly the stadium’s student section, hoping all I left behind would forever remain. And you, JoePa, are an institution of your own for Penn State University. Thus, I hope you, too, live every day of your life under that college umbrella with the football monarchy you have so beautifully and exceedingly led for the past 43 years; a team you have shaped and molded, despite constant student turnover, in your 59 total seasons with the Nittany Lions.
Your contract may expire in January, following what could be – and many of us cross our fingers each day for – a truly momentous season for the boys in blue and white. But we also hope the PSU administrators, coaching staff, powers that be recognize all you have done for that school and the symbolism you have brought to the football program.
You, JoePa, are more than one of the winningest college football coaches. YOU ARE … PENN STATE!
MinD, Class of 2007