My experience watching the games is always limited to my living room. Granted, I am NOT complaining. I know how to do it in style. The television is cranked to the maximum level. The freshly made appetizers are parked on the coffee table. My lucky Ravens shirt and necklaces are ON. The coolest Ravens Gnome ever is perched on the fireplace mantle while the cold beer is flowing. Nothing is better than Sundays at my house even when it is just me and my little one. She cheers just as loudly as her Momma.
But, absolutely nothing can compare to the experience of actually being right there at the game. Sure, I can’t slyly hit the pause button on my DVR as to not miss a single play after the beer has caught up with me, but the live NFL experience is one that every football fan should have at least once.
As I reflected on my evening and about what I most wanted to blog, it wasn’t the fact that we lost, or who I thought would end up being our kicker, or the laughs we had at the rain coming down on us. No, what struck me the most was the pre-game tailgating.
It wasn’t the delicious smell of the dogs and burgers on the grill that impressed me. It was the faces behind them. See, it only took a minute of people watching to notice that there was something truly great happening in that parking lot.
Dads were playing catch with their sons and daughters cheering on every caught ball. College kids were throwing bean bags in a good ‘ole game of corn hole. Strangers were becoming friends over a hand of cards and a beer. A grandfather debated with his grandson who was the greatest Raven player ever while each flipped a burger on the grill. Little girls held their moms’ hand as they paraded around in their cutest cheerleader outfits and pigtails.
For that few hours in downtown Baltimore, we were all friends, a family, and a unified community complimenting each other on the new Flacco jersey and offering a hand at raising the purple tent. It made me smile as I just stood there and took it all in.