Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday afternoon in The Jungle

I've been to my share of Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games, but when it comes to the National Football League, I can count the number of times I've attended a game on one hand.  The tickets are more expensive (if available), there are fewer games, and the weather often can be less than hospitable.  It doesn't help that may favorite team, the Cincinnati Bengals, has not been very good for most of my teen and adult years, which lessens the desire to bother springing for tickets.

Before today I'd been to an NFL game twice.  I saw the Bengals host the Detroit Lions in 1989 and Baltimore Ravens in 2004.  A friend won tickets to today's game against the Browns and invited me, so add a third game to my list.

For late November the weather certainly could have been worse.  It also could have been better.  The sky spit rain intermittently, and when the wind came through, it could get chilly.  I suppose I could have dressed warmer, although I was wearing the hat I knit in Bengals colors last year.

I'd been to Paul Brown Stadium once before, but I had little memory of the stadium's interior.  Maybe it's because the building is not owned by the team or maybe because it's used for a limited number of events per year, but the concourse lacks personality, especially compared to the baseball stadiums I've visited.  Is that how most football-specific stadiums are?  (While I haven't been inside, the one in Dallas most assuredly is not.)  It isn't a big deal, but unlike baseball team homes, this one was less than awe-inspiring.

The NFL's product is very friendly for the TV viewer.  To a certain extent that's to the detriment of the fans at the game.  The stadium experience was lacking in some areas.  Since our seats were in the corner of an end zone, there were times we were better off watching the action on the scoreboard to have a better idea of what was happening on some plays.  The length of TV timeouts is more deeply felt as you stand around waiting for the action to resume.  Although out-of-town scores and highlights are displayed, one feels sealed off from much else at an NFL game.

Those reasons, in addition to those I mentioned in the first paragraph, are probably enough to keep me from ever being a regular attendee at NFL games.  (That the team is a two-hour drive away factors in too.)  Don't get me wrong.  I enjoyed the time at the game, which was a good one in general.  The Bengals won in semi-dramatic fashion with a late field goal at the end where we sat.  I definitely won't complain about that.  Unlike other league's games, though, I don't know that seeing them in person is the best way to experience them.  Weird, that.

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