My first ever live NFL game turned out to be surprisingly more enjoyable than I expected.
I am enough of a fan of the American football to enjoy the games in general. However, I fully recognize the static nature of the sport, where each subsequent play is separated from the previous one by long periods of standing around. On TV, that time is mostly filled with replays from different angles, so the action feels somewhat more continuous. Sitting in a stadium, I was worried that I would not be able to remain attentive enough in between the snaps. (I was right to a degree – I did end up missing a couple of key plays simply because I let my attention wander during clock run-downs.)
With the average game lasting roughly 190 minutes and having roughly 125 snaps, each play taking on average 8 seconds, the actual play time comes to about 17 minutes out of those 190. Spaced more or less evenly across those 3+ hours. Hard to stay involved, I thought.
Turns out it’s all about the company you keep.
I went to the preseason game between the Giants and the Patriots at the New Meadowlands Stadium with two of my best and oldest friends. I probably qualify as an “NFL expert” in our group, but only one of us has been to an NFL game before. No matter. We had a beer each, some junk food, talked endlessly about things old friends normally talk about, engaged in light-hearted banter with fellow spectators (most of whom wanted to know what language we were speaking – something my friends and I can never get away from when we are in a public venue). We had fun.
It was also about good seats. We sat in a field-level section on the 30-yard line. I’ve heard in the past that from the stands it is not always easy to follow a given play that does not include a long throw, because you don’t always get who has the ball until the defenders pile up on top of the rusher. That may be true for seats on the upper levels. We had no problem following the ball.
The game itself was not very good, as one could expect from a preseason contest. Star players left after a couple of series, and most of the game was played out by backups. Some of whom were sloppy enough that I would not be surprised if they were released by the teams this morning. But in the fourth quarter, the lead changed hands a couple of times following good long runs after catches by either team. It was not boring.
I am not sure I’ll do that again anytime soon, but at least I can say that I finally experienced an NFL game live.
Next, competitive chess. Andres Cantor makes it look more exciting than I seem to recall in those Geico commercials.