Section 107, Row 3, Seat 15
First published, December, 2002.
Hard to believe, twenty seasons have come and gone since I authored this piece. The good news is my Giants won two more championships, Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Between those two championships, Giants Stadium, the home of this piece, was demolished in favor of a new nerd of a stadium, a mistake designed to accommodate its two owners, the Giants and the Jets. Instead, neither fan base is happy with MetLife.
Bah humbug! This story is about passion, glory and awful disappointment. In other words, the life of a serious fan and his offspring who inhabited Giants Stadium. That was our house. Now we are reduced to MetLife Stadium, Giants Stadium’s flawed successor. Sadly, to buy into this dubious distinction coat me $10,000 for two Personal Seat License (PSLs) that I was forced to buy so I could renew my two season tickets. You can’t make this up!
But I digress…When asked, “Why do you bother going to these late season football games when you can see so much more on TV at home? Conveniences like replays, slow motion and video analysis that provide insights you don’t get to see being in the stadium. Add to that all of the personal advantages of watching the games from home, it just does not make sense to fight the traffic coming and going, the cold, wind and, at times, rain or snow. You have to be nuts!
I merely reply, “I have had my season ticket since 1962 and the Giants are a way of life for me.”
My seat is three rows from the playing field on the side of the western end zone at Giants Stadium, Section 107, Row 3, Seat 15.
A seat close to the field may be the premier place to watch baseball, basketball, tennis or hockey, but not football. Football is a sport that lends itself to distance. That is why it works so well on TV. From a distance, the dance unfolds, the players flow moving along intricate patterns choreographed by the coaches, rehearsed in practice and set into motion by the snap of the ball.
That is not what I experience from my seat. Frankly, if truth be told, for a good part of the game, the action is too far away from my seat for me to witness anything except what my 7×35 binoculars allow me to bring into focus.
A distant event, but once the teams reach the 35 yard-line at my end of the field, I put the binoculars away and concentrate on the battle at hand. Gone are the fluid movements of pass receivers and defensive backs as they race for the football, or running backs cutting and weaving. Instead, I see eleven angry men on each team intent on forcing their will on the other eleven. This is football. The game ceases to be solely visual. The air pops with sound as the quarterback barks his signals, the linebackers shout out defensive codes. The players’ grunts, groans and curses as the ball is hiked and contact is made. The shocking sound of plastic helmets and shoulder pads colliding. all about, bodies are moving furiously engaging each other while the quarterback struggles to release the ball or the running back struggles to break out, break free as the opposition’s defensive players furiously attack intent on wrecking any semblance of success.
Fans are vocal and astute. Being close to the field, our voices carry to the players as they await the next play. To the enemy, shouts of, “Not Today, not in our house!” or if the Giants have the ball, encouragement like, “Have an idea,” “Go Blue go,” or “Get six, O, get six!” The officials, too, hear our admonitions if they render a poor or questionable decision. The closest is only 30 feet away well within our range. “Excuse me Number 77, Mister Back Judge, you will burn in hell for that call!”
There is nothing like a close game late in the 4th Quarter. The Giants are either driving desperately attempting to score or playing defense determined to stop the bad guys. The rush of adrenalin is real. 77,000 faithful fans are charged, hard wired, ready to live or die on every play. They fill the stadium with chants like, “DEE-fense, DEE-fense, DEE-fense.”
Exciting? Oh, yes. One or two plays to go, everyone is standing. A time out is called and everything stops. Not long, only thirty seconds, but enough time to catch our breath. The crowd is oblivious to the rain, the snow, the cold. I look around at these fans, mostly grown men, most dressed in Giants’ colors, “these idiots” cold, wet and far from home. I see their faces, the excitement in their eyes. I smile and I ask myself, “Well, JD what do you think?”
“What do I think? Here is what I think: “Damn, I cannot think of anyplace I would rather be than right here, right now, Go Giants.”