(By Daisy Barringer)
Yesterday at this time, I said to my friend, “Game Day is the best day. Seriously. What other day is this much fun?” And she agreed. Because on Game Day, unlike say Christmas or Thanksgiving, there are no relatives asking you why you're not married or if you should really have that second piece of pie. On Game Day, it's just blue skies and optimism. Good friends and football.
But that was yesterday.
It started out great. The sun was shining and the 49ers were in a perfect position to beat the Colts. In fact, we were favored by 10.5 points. My friend and I met up with other friends, had a beer, talked sports. Then we went inside the gates to meet more people, everyone excited and confident. It was then that I found out Vernon Davis was inactive for the game—a sign of awful things to come.
While we were standing in the Bud Light Plaza (you know, the place with the bar and the TVs and the food trucks), my friend and I spotted a police officer with longer shaggy hair and full tattoo sleeves. Perplexed, as we didn't know that police officers were even allowed to have tattoos like that, we jokingly asked him if he was a stripper. He played along, even pretending to rip off his fictional tear-away pants.
We chatted a bit more asking about the tattoo of a young girl on his forearm. That was his daughter, he explained. Her mother ran off and took her out of the country and off of the grid when she was three years old. And then there was a fire in his house and he lost every picture of her except the one he carried in his wallet. It was a somber moment, but as a girl who never knew her dad, I promised him she would find him when she was older. He just needed to wait And then it was time to head inside for kickoff.
It was a good interaction. I've always been a pretty big fan of the SFPD, but I think sometimes when they're doing their job (in ways that may not always work to our benefit), we can forget that they're human. That they're fathers and brothers and sometimes really REALLY into tattoos.
And the sun was still shining. And we were still going to beat the Colts. It was Game Day. The best day.
And then we started playing. Unlike a lot of fans, I was happy that Harbaugh decided to let Aldon Smith play. Yes, he screwed up big time by getting that DUI and he put himself and others in harm's way, but what's the point of punishing everyone else—his teammates and the fans—for his mistake? Perhaps the decision to play him was wrong. Who knows? Regardless, it's all over now. Or at least for the foreseeable future as he's going to seek treatment and will not play on Thursday. In fact, the 49ers don't know when he'll be back on the field.
As for everything else, what is there to say?
The 49ers looked horrible. In every way, shape, and form. And the score, a 27-7 loss, proves it.
On Friday, I said our defense was good against the run. And yet, the Colts rushed for 179 yards.
I said the loss in Seattle would motivate the team. Instead everyone played without passion or purpose.
Kaepernick couldn't find or hit receivers. In fact, the first ball caught by someone besides Anquan Boldin didn't occur until there was less then two minutes remaining in the game (Kyle Williams). And at that point, the game was over. Maybe that wouldn't matter if Boldin had been able to make something happen, but his 5 catches for 67 yards were ineffective. Maybe it's not Kap's fault; after all, Davis was out and the Niners' receiving corps is sadly depleted. Still, Kaepernick looked like crap and his sack/fumble in the 4th quarter sent the crowds racing for the exits.
Unfortunately, we also struggled on the ground (except in the first quarter), so Gore and Hunter didn't help us move the ball either.
Our defense also struggled. They looked tired. Unexcited. Flat. And to make things worse, Patrick Willis who left the game with a groin injury doesn't look like he'll play on Thursday. I mean I just can't right now.
I really don't have one good thing to say about the team's performance. I don't know what happened but the magic seems to be gone. If I have to blame someone, I suppose it has to be the coaching staff. After all, they have almost all of the same guys they had last year. The talent should be the same. I can only hope that the total suckiness is because the players aren't being utilized correctly and the wrong calls are being made. I can only hope the necessary adjustments will be made. Like right this second.
I'm not going to lie though. My hopes aren't too high. We're 1-2 and headed to St. Louis to battle it out on Thursday night. No Patrick Willis. No Aldon Smith. Maybe no Vernon Davis. I just don't see things turning out well for us.
No offense, mediocre defense, and more penalties than I can count or care to remember. All around: suck city.
As the game ended, my friend and I filed out, our shoulders dropped dejectedly. We just wanted to get home, watch bad TV (never sports after a loss), and forget everything that happened.
Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy.
As me and my friend were almost at the gates, a Colts fan pushed by me and sent me stumbling. I'm pretty sure it was an accident, but given my crestfallen mood, that didn't stop me from making a comment. “Jesus. You could have at least said sorry!” The Colts fan did not hear me. However, a drunk 49ers' fan did. And apparently she thought that was hilarious and the perfect opportunity to act out her frustration. So she ran up to me, laughing manically, and shoulder checked me so hard that I'm still sore today. “What the fuck!!!” I said as I pushed her off of me.
My reaction, the push, was to defend myself from her slamming herself into me, but it was also the catalyst for what happened next. It's a move I will question a lot over the next couple of days.
Instead of backing off, the girl came at me and kicked me in the thigh. Hard. I was in such shock that I did nothing until she and her boyfriend started to run away. “Um, that's assault,” I said to my friend. And so I followed them while trying to notify security.
“Stop following us!” they shouted at me. And then they stopped, and the girl punched me in the head and started kicking me again. I just took it, knowing that if I reacted, I could end up also in trouble. “You can't just hit people!” I said. “That's illegal!” As though reminding them of the life lesson we learned in kindergarten were going to stop them from attacking me.
But with no security in sight and no other fans doing anything to help me, they ran away again. Finally, I got the attention of a security guard and within seconds, the police arrived. And yes, it was the guy we'd befriended early in the day. Thank God.
At this point, I was sobbing, while I explained to the police officers what happened. The girl was screaming “she's lying” even though you could clearly see shoe marks on my thigh. They separated us and got both of our stories. After talking to her, they came back, they asked me want I wanted to do. “I want to press charges,” I insisted. I realize it may sound dramatic, but I just felt like I couldn't let that girl get away with punching and kicking me. I just couldn't.
“Okay,” they explained. “But she is saying you assaulted her, so if you press charges, we're going to have to arrest you as well.”
Flabbergasted does not do my reaction justice. “How can you arrest me if I didn't do anything?” I asked.
“She's saying you assaulted her. Do you really want an arrest record?”
More tears, pleas for them to believe me, and more discussions with the lunatic couple who were still cracking up on the side. Because laughing at the crying girl makes one seem super sympathetic.
I don't know what changed, but the officers finally came back and said that those two were being taken away and put in the paddy wagon. They took down my name, number and birthday, told me I looked younger than my age, and finally, the tears started to subside. (Nothing like a compliment to get a girl to calm down.) We made more stripper jokes. I smiled for the first time in hours. And then they sent us off on our way.
I think the hardest part of it for me—besides being attacked by strangers—was the feeling that I did something wrong. That it was somehow my fault. That this happened to me because I deserved it. I want to believe that's not true, but even as the bruise on my thigh turns from red to dark purple and hurts so much I can barely walk, it's hard to not feel like I brought this upon myself.
I spent an hour on the phone with SFPD this morning. They have no record of a case number. In the moment at the park I was so flustered that I didn't think to ask for one. As I write this, I await a call from the Bayview Station sergeant. Hopefully, he can clear some things up. Hopefully, he can prove to me that those officers didn't just tell me what I wanted to hear and that they actually arrested the girl.
Mostly, I am just over Candlestick Park. I don't know when things changed, but the games just aren't fun anymore. The fans are too drunk. They're too rowdy. And they're too angry. I'm all for making noise and having fun; it's a football game after all. But when a girl in pigtails and knee-high socks get repeatedly kicked by a stranger twice her size “just because,” it's pretty clear that things have gone downhill. Fast.
With that said, I have no desire to attend another game this season. It's just become so scary and unsafe. In fact, I just want to go to bed. I'm exhausted. Does assault constitute a sick day? And can I blame the 49ers for this? Because I bet if they'd won that girl would have been drunk and happy instead of drunk and looking for a fight. Although, with people like that, you never know.
It's a short week for the 49ers who travel to St. Louis to play the Rams on Thursday night. Hopefully, they can pull out a W and cheer us all up. After that debacle, I need it.