There was no screen. No sports commentator. No replay. There was no television in front of me to yell at; no pillow and no couch behind me to madly punch in frustration. No bedroom to run into and slam the door and yell obscenities to Ziggy, my teddy bear. Nothing.
Nothing but the end zone in front of me. On the line, lay one of the 49ers on his back, unable to get up. Teammates were around him, all just standing stupefied, in obvious shock. What just happened? Now, I was grateful there was no television in front of me at this moment; I could avoid all replays of the disaster that just occurred in front of my eyes.
The San Francisco 49ers had just destroyed their last (of many, many) chances to run away with a victory against the Arizona Cardinals. And they had managed to do it in the national spotlight, on prime time Monday Night Football, nonetheless.
One irony of the game was the sight of the stadium; everyone was sporting the same shade of red (save for a few throwback 'Niner jerseys) and I perfectly matched my friend next to me, although we were supporting opposing teams.
The entire game was a roller coaster for both sides; sloppy plays, endless flags, and remarkable calls from the referees (usually in favor of the Niners) were too frequent. As my dad commented on the phone afterwards, “this was the sloppiest game I’ve seen in a long time; BOTH teams deserved to lose tonight.” I added that San Francisco had simply beaten San Francisco tonight. No need for pants dropping, though.
There were so many flags thrown up that everyone was irked by the final quarter. I groaned to my friend, “Flags belong up THERE!” and I pointed to the rafters, where the American and Arizona flag hung. On second thought...there were no recent division or Super Bowl banners to be seen in Cardinal Stadium.
I smiled to myself.
The last few minutes of the game had my legs shaking uncontrollably; my heart threatening to burst out of my chest, and I couldn’t stop from madly hopping up and down to keep from breaking down from pure exhaustion, excitement, and nervous anticipation of the ref’s calls on the field.
I had almost lost my ability to yell; although I managed to scream wildly several times when the referees continued to give calls in San Francisco’s favor.
The middle-aged men by me on all sides wanted to kill me. I could tell. I leaned to one of them, after I went on a wild, emotional frenzy during the last play review of the 'Niner’s attempt at a touchdown and excused myself, “sorry, but I’m a girl!!” We ladies get pretty emotional about issues (yes, I know this is obvious).
I managed to keep a strong front for the remainder of the game and held my own through the celebrations around me, and the taunting, through the masses of jersey-clad fans smiling and laughing in my face.
I held my sign tightly, purposely flashing the words, “WILL IS POWER #52” as my last defiant attempt at supporting my football team on my way out of the stadium. Last time I walked through the hallways of this stadium for a football game was back in February during the Super Bowl.
This was a very different tempo; although both close, mind boggling games, I now felt personally defeated.
I ran through options for the final play in my head and came up with a revolutionary idea (Singletary: take note). Instead of trying to rush through the center like what actually took place, I propose a risky alternative. Since the ball was on the one-yard line away from a touchdown, the center would just snap the ball barely to the quarterback, who’d quickly grab the ball and duck under the center.
The center would simultaneously push forwards while keeping his legs wide apart, allowing the quarterback to dive through.
Nay, the QB would have barely two yards to outstretch his hands and place the ball over the end zone line, resulting in a miraculous touchdown. Yes, this would end in a tremendous dog pile (as what occurred regardless), but the Cardinals wouldn’t have expected such an instantaneous, low move. Brilliant.
This morning, I, as the Tuesday morning quarterback, performed this exact maneuver for my friend. I used his dog Sweetie as my center, and the cracks in the living room tile as the line of scrimmage. It was truly a spectacle.
I managed to make it to the parking lot in relatively okay spirits. Ignoring the rude Arizona fans waving banners and singing in my face, I smiled and showed support to fellow disgruntled San Francisco fans. "Forever faithful" was the shared sentiment.
An older man driving a truck crept up towards me as I was walking down an aisle of cars, in search for my friend’s vehicle. He tipped his hat to me and gave a small, encouraging smile. I could see through the shadows from the parking lot lights that his hat read “SF.” I took a few more steps, and then ran back to the car.
I held up my hand in a slow high five, and he returned the favor.
“One for every Super Bowl.” He chuckled and agreed, flashing a genuine grin across his face.
No matter how close or devastating a loss, and as much as I stormed and complained through the minutes, there was absolutely no place in the world I would have rather been last night. There was no other way to watch such a game; and I am truly grateful to have had the experience of being present for such a notable loss. Forever faithful.