(By Daisy Barringer)
There exists an excitement about watching your team play in the another team's stadium that you don't quite experience when watching in your own. The energy is different—more thrilling—since you never know what's going to happen. Will the opposing fans act welcoming? Rude? Drunk? Violent? In the case of the NY Jets yesterday, it was all of the above.
Loading up on the Finnerty's game bus with 100 other 49ers' fans, there was a sense of good-natured cheer amongst the crowd. People who traveled all the way from California mingled with SF-transplants who would only go to this one game all year. Finnerty's did it right with plenty of beer and an Italian spread of sausages, pasta, and wings to soak it up with. The day was off to a good start.
And it only got better. After we piled into our section, in the nosebleeds, sure, but hey: we were there, the 49ers came out and showed the creativity and intensity that was missing last week in Minnesota. No one expected to see back-up QB Colin Kaepernick so much, especially the Jets defense who were caught totally off guard by the Niners' game plan.
It was the defense, however, that really had us jumping up and down. Four turnovers, 45 total rushing yards, 145 yards total, a 39.9 QB rating for Sanchez, a blocked punt, two sacks (one for a fumble), and just total domination from start-to-finish. It was a sight to behold. Unless, of course, you were a Jets fan. They didn't like it one bit. And hey, nor would I if that were my team. But it's not my fault your team is getting totally destroyed, New York, but their decision to take it out and me and all of my fellow Faithful proved too much. Alas.
Listen, I know it’s a football game and I expected the Jets fans to be jerkier than the saints in Green Bay. But this was too much. Hometown fans were screaming "YOU SUCK!" at me before I even got inside the stadium. I can handle that. though. Call me names, insult me, whatever. But when you start throwing food at me and my friends? That's taking it too far. Especially when it's food with mustard and ketchup on it. That shit stains.
For me to call out the home team fans on their bad behavior could be seen as hypocritical. After all, it wasn't that long ago that I threw beer on someone after a devastating 49ers' loss. But I'm reformed! A changed woman. I have, in fact, seen the light. No one loves football more than I do. And no one is more passionate about her team than I am. But screaming obscenities and starting fights doesn't make any of it more enjoyable. It just puts everyone on the defensive and spoils the fun. So when I saw a hot dog covered in mustard sail through the air and land on the head of a Niners' fan, I was pissed. But when I saw the mustard stain it left behind on his bald head, mainly I was just sad.
I tried to reason with the crowd, but that's hardly possible with a bunch of drunk people in the midst of watching their team get completely and vulgarly manhandled. And with that, stadium security got involved. Which made things a little better.
Until a New Jersey state trooper assigned to oversee our section gave us the finger.
I cannot make this stuff up.
His excuse? "I was signaling to some of my guys in the crowd," he claimed, which may or may not have been true. But maybe if you're protecting a section full of Niners' fans, pick a better signal than the bird? Just a thought.
Lucky for us, by the third quarter, almost every Jets fan in the stadium had abandoned their seats to head home. Not before they booed Mark Sanchez and demanded Tebow, of course. By the fourth quarter, all that was left was a sea of red and gold and the “Let’s Go Niners!” chants making their way down to the players. It was magical.
Sure, there were a few mistakes in the game. Some stupid penalties, Alex Smith going 0-5 on third down, some bad passes, and some weird play calling at the end of the first half. But overall it was an amazing game. (And no, I'm not going to even point out Akers’ two missed field goals because that dude has been clutch when we aren't playing so well and everyone has an off-day.)
Ultimately, it was a shutout. The third-worst home shutout in Jets' history. A total embarrassment for every member of the Jets organization, especially Rex Ryan. He spent all week saying how great the Niners were. And we proved him right.
As we walked out of the stadium, grins on our faces, high fiving everyone, we were approached by two men in Niners’ jerseys. “Saw you were having some problems with the fans,” they said.
'Yeah,' my friend replied. "And the security guy in our section gave us the finger!"
"The state trooper? "they asked.
"Yeah," we responded.
"Oh," they smiled. "He was with us." And then they pulled out their badges and walkie talkies. Turns out they were undercover and protecting us all along.
"The girl throwing food at you?” They said. "She got kicked out."
It was good to hear. And frankly, they probably did her a favor. After all, no fan wants to watch their team implode like that.
We laughed and took pictures with them and then headed out to the parking lot where there were hundreds of Niners' fans gathered together, jumping up and down, celebrating the win, and noting optimistically that this was our year.
Last year was our year too, I thought. But sometimes you really do get a second chance, and it looks like this.
As we boarded the bus and headed back to the city, smiles on our faces, beers in hand, I couldn't help but dream about traveling to all of the away games for the rest of the year. "No," I decided. "I'l save that money for New Orleans. In February."
Don't let me down, boys.