January 2007, I was watching from my standing room only “seat” as the Seahawks were about to lose to the Cowboys in my first playoff game. It was important stuff and I was trying very hard to pay attention to the play on the field — though admittedly this is difficult for me to do as my eyes tend to glaze over rather often. It might be something to do with the fact that they always seem to be stopping for something. A penalty. A commercial. Time out. An owie.
Suddenly, the crowd around us went nuts.
“What happened?” I asked, puzzled because I really was watching.
Hubs, who was about to expire with pure joy, shouted something to the effect of ‘Oh my god, Romo just flubbed the kick.’ Or bobbled the ball or fumbled the snap.’ Something like that.
And that was my last live game. After two decades of following the big guy to games in Philly, to Foxboro, the Meadowlands, Denver and Seattle, I was done.
Football does not come naturally to me. Oh, I get touchdowns and field goals, incompletes and out of bounds, but beyond that, I’m kinda lost. Still every year, I faithfully found us two tickets to at least one game a season. I developed coping mechanisms early on — as in the Sunday paper and a good book.
Once, at a Broncos game, I read til the third quarter. I also sipped a couple of plastic cups of crappy, but very pricey, wine. Finally, I started getting into the spirit of things (even crappy wine will do that to you). After letting loose a rousing cheer, I sat and met the eyes of the man next to me gazing in wonder. “But you’ve been so good ’til now,” he said.
The last Broncos game I attended, the wind chill factor was -21. In tears, I threatened the D-word. We stayed anyway.
I loved tailgating at Foxboro, where fans are known to set up tables with white linens and the good tailgate china, though after parking lot players tackled the Port-a-Potty with someone in it, trapping him, they took those away. I saw the Seahawks play at Foxboro in ’90. That was year the team was so bad, they were handing out paper bags to Patriot “fans” to wear on their heads. We won 33-20. And yes, I wore a bag — despite having little clue as to the significance.
Even though I no longer attend the games, I still make it a point of walking the hubs to Pioneer Square before the game and meeting him at the Bookstore Bar on his way home after. And yes, the playoff game against the Packers was phenomenal. Never hugged so many strangers in my life — except maybe at last year’s Super Bowl.
For the hubs, that’s the dream game. But it took us some time to figure out how to do the Super Bowl and stay married. To him, it was Christmas, New Year’s and the Fourth of July all in one. From sun up to last call. I, of course, was bored to tears. Finally, we brokered a deal: if he was going to watch the game, I was going to pick the place.
That was Super Bowl XIX. (And yes, thank you, I do have a good memory for an old broad.) I chose the Land’s End in Homer, Alaska, a good two-hour drive from our home. I had a new camera and I spent much of the game chasing a rainbow over the Homer Spit while Joe Montana beat up on Dan Marino. That was also the year we started betting on the game and the playoffs. This year, the playoffs earned me a sweater, a blouse and a pair of shoes, though we didn’t dare bet on the Seattle/Packers game, nor last year’s Super Bowl, which means this year I will again be prizeless.
These days we keep the Super Bowl celebration simple, walking across the street to Szabo’s, where we’ve been cheering with the same fans for most of our 14 years here. And yes, I’ll take my reading material, but I’ll be paying attention, too. And if a Patriots player flubs the kick or bobbles the ball, I may not understand what happened, but you can bet I’ll know when to cheer.
Lori Tobias covered the coast for The Oregonian for nine years. She lives in Newport, where she freelances for a number of regional and national publications, as well as the occasional post for her blog loritobias.com.