It is no secret to most people who know me that I am a football fan. I park my ass in front of a television on Sundays, and Monday nights, and if I'm ever stuck working, you can bet I'll be watching the Gamecast on my phone.
So, despite the fact that I'm down in Disney World with my family right now, at 1pm yesterday afternoon, sporting my Eli Manning jersey, I wandered over to the ESPN Club to park my ass at the bar for a day of football. There was a line to get in, and within moment of joining the line, I was reminded of the really great thing that happens when you get a bunch of people together to watch football.
We all become friends.
Most of the people who were on line had come alone - fathers and husbands who had escaped their families for the day. (Or at least for as long as the game lasted). A couple had come with friends, and there were a few stray women who either loved football, or loved their man enough to go with him, but for the most part, we were lone football fans waiting to get into one of the few places that we could watch our team.
I was in line behind a Patriots fan and a Giants fan, who wound up befriending each other as the line didn't move and they traded off leaving to get beers. Behind me were some Saints fans who later grabbed the busy bartender for me so I could get a beer, and then I circled the bar until I found the games I wanted to watch.
I settled on a spot standing on one side of the bar where the Jets game and the Vikings game were on two TVs right next to each other. However, on the wall too my right was the giant projection of the Patriots game... so I was surrounded by Patriots fans.
And here I was cheering for the Jets.
After some playful ribbing about the fact that I was cheering for the Jets while wearing a Giants jersey, and heckling right back about how the Patriots were getting crushed by the BROWNS of all people, we all had a lot of fun. I spent the first game hanging with 4 dads who were Patriots fans, and joining in the group of Jets fans a table away in a few rounds of "J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!" as they made a comeback to win in overtime. They talked about their fantasy teams, I admitted to being a closet Brett Favre and Vikings fan (Alright, so I couldn't exactly hide it when I nearly jumped out of my seat when they tied the game.) and it was just a generally fun time.
One of the Patriots fans kindly surrendered his seat to me when he had to leave, and I wound up sitting there until the end of the Green Bay game that night with a bunch of different drinking companions, including a Lions fan, (Who liked me less when he found out I'd been rooting for the Jets) a Redskins fan, (Who decided at least we could both hate the Cowboys) another Patriots fan, (Who was from Philadelphia?) and a few other guys of undetermined allegiance. (Well, one eventually admitted to being a Bills fan, so... I get that! Haha)
But the great thing about it was that I spent all day with total strangers and had a BLAST! Everyone heckled everyone else about their team (Though most of them left me alone after all of mine won), but nobody was mean about it. By the end of the night, everyone was buying each other drinks, sharing giant plates of wings and chips, bitching about coaches we hate, talking about players we love, and cheering on other people's teams if ours weren't playing anymore.
I know everybody probably has a story about how a fan of their rival team did something shitty to them at a game or even out on the street, and maybe it's just because this is Disney World and everybody is in a slightly better mood here, but I think when everybody gets together to watch a game, there's a certain kind of camaraderie that takes over, and lets everybody have a good time.
And I love it!