Out To The Ballgame

Maxwell Kruger-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you've been a season ticket holder since 1996 or have only ever attended 1 Raven game, you know just how exceptional the NFL experience is. Share yours here

I have only ever attended 4 NFL games in my life, but I can remember each one like it happened yesterday. Obviously 3 out of those 4 games were Raven games. The other was a Sunday night Giants game in the Meadowlands of New Jersey.

I begged my dad to buy me tickets to a Ravens game for my birthday back in 2004. He took me, his dad, and a buddy of mine out to see the Ravens play the Cowboys. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the Ravens gave us a 30-10 win. Both Ed Reed and Chad Williams had picks that day; Williams returned his for a touchdown. Kyle Boller had a successful outing, (by his standards) connecting with Kevin Johnsons and Darrell Dinkins each for touchdowns and finished with 232 passing yards. I'll never forget Vinny Testaverde's dismal performance (he finished with 0TD, 2INTs, and went 9-22 on 109YDS), allotting to a grand QB rating total of 18.9. In fact, it was his backup, Drew Henson, who threw for the Cowboys' only touchdown that day. I left M&T Bank Stadium mesmerized and in awe. That first game was an experience that cemented my love for the game of football and for the Ravens. The literal sea of purple and black, the flood of tailgaters, and the Johnny Unitas statue were all so spectacular to see.

The only other game worth mentioning here after I lost my NFL virginity was a Monday night showdown between the Steelers and Ravens in Pittsburgh. Again as a birthday present, my uncle, who lives in Pittsburgh, got me tickets 20 rows behind the right of the goalpost at Heinz Field for a Monday night rivalry game. For a month before the game, it was all I could think about, and I didn't care what else I got for my birthday; I knew this was going to be the best present.

The whole city was out in Steeler garb that day, everyone was talking about and preparing for the game. I began heading proudly for the stadium in my black Ed Reed uni until my uncle pulled me into a sports shop and told me that if I wanted to survive that evening I would need to don a Steelers uniform over my Ed Reed one. I argued with him for a solid 20 minutes before finally agreeing to him buying me a Hines Ward jersey.

It was a cold, wet evening in early November, and I was probably wearing at least 4 layers and gloves at the game. To please my uncle I wore the Hines Ward jersey over my sweatshirt over my Ed Reed jersey on the ferry ride over to Heinz Field, but the second we got there I rushed to the bathroom and took it off. It would have been inhumane of me to wear that hideous thing when the Ravens were playing their division rivals.

I was really blown away by the Steeler fans that night. They were gruesome, aggressive, and unwavering in their energy and volume. Somewhere into the 2nd quarter I lost hearing in my right ear, and whatever parts of my body were not covered became numb, which only added to the awesomeness of the whole experience for me. I kept my mouth shut for most of the game, but made an effort to connect with and acknowledge the few fellow Raven fans I saw that night.

As for the game, Baltimore got pummeled. I'm sure if you were watching you also remember the slaughter that ensued that evening; it's hard to forget, even though I'd like to. Big Ben tied an NFL single game record with 5 touchdown passes in the first half. He finished the game 13-16 and 209YDS. The Steelers forced three fumbles in the 1st quarter, and their defense was at their absolute best. They made us look like a high-school football team that night. I won't say anymore because you get the picture; it was ugly. Coach Billick said afterwards,

I wouldn't even know how to begin to characterize this. I'm just glad it's a short week and we don't have time to dwell on this.

Even though it was so demoralizing to watch in person, that Monday night football game was an epic one. That night the Steelers celebrated their 75th anniversary by hosting the All-Steelers team on centerfield before the game. I saw the likes of Mean Joe Green, Franco Harris, and Terry Bradshaw. They really got lucky with the performance the Steelers they gave them that night.

These are just a couple memories of my experience going to NFL games but I'd love to hear what, if any, NFL games you've attended. Please share them here!

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