My old neighborhood got together for a tailgating session for the home opener.
There was Melanie, from New Ulm, who came to her first game ever quite pregnant, and accenting that fact with an exposed stomach covered in purple. There was the Vikings vehicle towing the 49er outhouse. A kid catching footballs wearing a Moe Williams jersey. Who ever convinced him to wear #20 is a saleman. There was Matt Blair in the next lot with a crowd. After the game there was Tommy Kramer looking to sign autographs and refill. Lots of food and drink. And of course, a football game.
Walking through the lots, visting with fans, it was clear that tailgating has lost its' large lot commraderie. There were many small lots, flags waving, bean-tossing, grills, and tables of vodka and tomato juice. But without the big lot, one felt distant from the masses.
The entrance to the Dome was probably the most difficult task of the day. Wading through the thousands of purple fans, sprinkled with a red jersey here and there, to stand in a 50 deep line waiting to be patted down. The tailgaters seemed to bottleneck and the gate closest, and many suffered a longer wait than wanted.
The game was loud. Many missed the opening series where the Vikings defense came out on fire. The whole first half seemed to be dominated by purple, yet the score was 14-13 49ers. Sure, a blocked field goal and return hurt, but the crowd grew impatient with the play calling of the offense.
By the 2nd half, the crowd grew silent as the 49ers took a bigger lead. To my dismay, many left with 2 minutes left when the Vikes surrendered the ball at midfield. "Get back here. you will be sorry" I yelled at the lines of abandoners. I was angry with their lack of faith. Afterall, we had 3 timeouts, you knew that San Fran would run the ball, and we would get another chance. They did, we did.
Of course, the final drive was legendary. You will read all about it, see highlights, talk on Monday at work. But I can tell you the celebration rivaled a World Series win. The fans high-fived strangers, went back to drinking and throwing footballs in parking lots, and made of fun of retreating red jerseys. I asked to throw a couple, I was so pumped up. My second throw sailed into a crowd and hit a large man in the head. If it had been a loss, I would be asking my buddies to back me up. But we won magnificently, and the guy laughed it off. Sorry, buddy.
Not quite like the Met, but one thing has never changed... fans love a winner.
(insert really cool pictures of the pregnant and purple melanie, kramer, and random tailgaters)