The Worst Live Sports Experience of My Life
I’ll leave you with one final dispatch from the heart of Pats nation, and we must return to the beginning of this column to properly contextualize it; back to the play that Bronco fans will forever refer to when arguing on behalf of Champ Bailey’s all-time great bona fides.
However, Patriots fans remember it as the Ben Watson play. Justifiably so. This is one of the greatest hustle plays in the history of sports.
Every child regardless of whether they play sports should have to watch that effort. Ben Watson sprinting all the way from Greeley to chase down one of the fastest corners to ever step on a football field epitomizes everything we love about sports and what they evoke from the human spirit.
Pats fans love this play. I don’t blame them. I do too. However, a lot of them have this bizarre cognitive dissonance where they completely forget WHY Ben Watson had to travel the length of the Iditarod to catch Champ. It was the first time they were forced to acknowledge that Brady is mortal. He threw off his back foot towards perhaps the greatest corner ever in the endzone with the season on the line, and a lot of Pats fans are still in denial of that failure – let alone some of Brady’s more recent ones.
The following season, the Broncos played a Sunday night game in New England. I got tickets through my girlfriend (a Patriots fan sporting a Teddy Bruschi jersey – keep that in mind), and I invited another friend from UMass who was a Pats fan, as well as my best friend from high school who went to college in the area as well.
We sat in the lower bowl, and immediately felt the heat. “Elway sucks” and “Bailey sucks” chants would bubble up around us, but it wasn’t anything out of the norm. Things didn’t get bad until the 2nd half when Jake Plummer ripped their hearts out with an 83 yard bomb to Javon Walker to put the Broncos up 17-0 with 13:03 to go in the 4th quarter.
The entire stadium rose as Plummer’s pass sailed through the air, and as I sat down, I watched roughly a third of the fans head for the exits. There was still a ton of time left, and down three scores with the ball isn’t insurmountable, especially when you have the “undisputed greatest quarterback of all time” as nearly all Pats fans allege.
I saw a tear falling down my girlfriend’s face and asked her what was wrong. The woman behind her dumped a full cup out on her blanket as we were standing to watch the Javon Walker touchdown.
I turned to confront the woman and asked why she didn’t pour the beer on me since I was the jerk wearing a bright orange jersey. I may as well have painted a target on my back.
This particular woman sent a string of insults my girlfriend’s way that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush. All because she brought a Broncos fan to the game. People around us began to occasionally toss spare change at her (a Boston specialty – I once saw a man in his 40’s or 50’s chuck a handful of change at a kid in a Yankees hat who couldn’t have been older than 5 at a Red Sox game. They weren’t even playing the Yankees that day).
I remained unharmed. It was complete insanity.
Fights erupted all around us. My friend asked if we wanted to go in order to avoid any further danger, but there were so many people heading for the exits with a full quarter to play that we decided we were safer closer to the action, and waited until the end of the game when we knew there would be few people left.