Watching a Ravens victory is sweet in and of itself.
Watching the Ravens defeat the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday night was one of the most gratifying and enjoyable experiences in my lifetime.
I traveled up to Pittsburgh on Friday to watch my good friend, Alex Kirsch, play in his last college football game, Saturday afternoon, at Robert Morris University. Although his team came up short to Miles Austin’s Alma mater, Monmouth University, he played well as he made the start at left tackle. Although he left the game late in the fourth quarter with grade two MCL tear, he still found a way to make the trek to the game.
Alex, his roommate Justin (a Steelers fan) and my good friend Jonathan Butta (avid WNST listener and has attended a few WNST bus trips), sat together for Sunday night’s Ravens-Steelers battle.
Now I know what you’re thinking.
Why would you sit with a Steelers fan?
How bad did you get heckled?
How many fights did you get into?
I can honestly say it was one of the most pleasant experiences in my life.
Justin was a great sport and we honestly felt worse for him because he was going into “Steelers Country” with a group of Ravens fans. I was somewhat worried when we first pulled into the stadium lot. A female Steelers fan scorned at us and the parking attendant asking him, “Are you seriously letting them park next to us?”First impressions weren’t great, until one Steelers fan changed the mood.
One of the younger yinzers left his tailgate to meet and great us, welcoming us to Pittsburgh. We talked about the rivalry. We talked about implications this game had. No animosity. Best wishes were delivered and we went separate ways.
Two hours before kickoff, we traveled to a Pittsburgh tailgate with one of Alex and Justin’s college friends- all Pittsburgh fans. Much to my amazement, they provided us food and drink.
After tailgating, we walked up to Heinz Field as Steelers fans galore were encompassing the stadium. I had some friendly banter with an older yinzer about my Michael Oher jersey (3-0 on the season, cue “Superstitious”). While waiting in line to get into the stadium, another gentleman approached me, tapped me on the back and subsequently shook my hand welcoming me to Pittsburgh.
Once inside the stadium, we walked around just to get a feel of the place the Ravens and Steelers were about to do battle. One Steelers fan chatted with us regarding his previous trips to Baltimore and how he despises the city because of the treatment he received there. I sympathized for a little, but I didn’t want to make an immediate judgement before I saw how I was to be treated during the game.
Before I get into the game experience, here’s where we sat. Yes, these are upper deck seats:
When the game finally started, it was much of the same. Fairly positive, friendly banter and respectful of each others’ teams.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. There were two yinzers that made the others look bad.
Yinzer waves “Terrible Towel” in my friend Jon’s face and didn’t stop. He improved as the game went on, but standing and waving the towel on even meaningless plays is ridiculous. Needless to say, stadium security wasn’t exactly helpful either.
The other gentleman wasn’t even worth mentioning because his comments were so befuddling and trifling to say the least.
To my left, uneducated binzers; Baltimore’s version of yinzers.
You know the types:
“Harbaugh needs to go.”
“Flacco isn’t worth a damn.”
These Ravens fans were ridiculous. Always trying to pick a fight. Nothing was even being done to provoke them. Yes, there were F-bombs. Yes, there was alcohol consumed in the section. No, they didn’t understand a lick of football.
I realize every city has these types of people. I also realize that the Ravens’ offensive output was less than stellar. However, it amazes me how little some people actually understand about the game and can’t just sit around and watch it.
In short, I was more appalled by the actions of the Ravens fans than I was the Steelers fans. It’s crazy how the lack of respect translates into fans that don’t even play the game.
HOWEVER, that’s what the best rivalry in football, and in professional sports, is all about. Competitive banter, friendly or unfriendly. The fans take it as seriously as the players, as they should.
Overall, it was a great experience it and I would love to travel back to Pittsburgh for another epic game.
Oh yeah, a Ravens win isn’t half bad either, especially when “Renegade” didn’t work twice.
Follow me on Twitter @Jeff_Kryglik and “Like” the WNST Weekend Warriors Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/WNSTs-Weekend-Warriors/200309348653?fref=ts) for constant content regarding Baltimore sports, blogs, photos and more from the other “Weekend Warriors.” Follow them on Twitter @RealJohnSears, @dmradov and @BrettSportsCol.