The streets of Montreal are really scary at midnight when you are truly afraid a bunch of drunken bikers are going to beat you because they disagree with your fashion sense. That was my all-time worst experience at a sporting event. Until San Francisco.
Last January 7th, my boss shot me a text and told me I was scheduled to be in San Francisco the following Thursday. That evening, the Saints put the thumping on the overly swagger-filled Detroit Lions, putting them in San Francisco the following Saturday. I hit Stub Hub and got myself an end zone seat a few rows up from the field. Seriously, how lucky can you get?
Since Willy McCovey and Juan Marichal tore it up during the summers of my youth, Candlestick Park has been a trophy stadium for me. Watching Joe Montana and Steve Young on all of those late games only made me covet the trophy even more.
I'm not going to replay the game--we remember it all too well--but I am going to talk about why I hate the 49ers, their fans, their stadium and that stupid "Who's Got It Better Than Us?" chant. (Note to 49er fans reading this: I had the worst experience in 25 years of traveling to see baseball, hockey and football games at your stadium, so deal with it. Whaddya gonna do, travel to New Jersey, poke me and tell me I suck?)
First, a little baseline for you to judge my contempt for all things 49er: In 1989 I sat in the back of the Montreal Forum watching the Canadiens play the Bruins. I had the unfortunate stupidity to wear a Bruins jersey to the game, (hey, I was young and drank a lot of beer at the time). I don't speak French, but the kid next to me did. He was kind enough to tell me the 15 or so bikers sitting two rows ahead of us who were turning around and yelling things at me were all members of the Le Page Chapter of the Hells Angels.
I was finding it amusing to get taunted in French until my friend the translator informed me they were letting me know they were going to beat my ass to a pulp after the game. "I'd take them serious," he said in his cheery Canuck accent. The streets of Montreal are really scary at midnight when you are truly afraid a bunch of drunken bikers are going to beat you because they disagree with your fashion sense. This was my all-time worst experience at a sporting event.
Until San Francisco.
I love the city. I actually choose to go there when I can for vacation. I can't wait to go back again. I just hate the 49ers and their fans.
When I entered the stadium I was given a towel with the words, "Who's Got It Better Than Us?" on it. What the hell does that even mean? Is it an advertisement for a hemorrhoid cream? This is probably the worst catchphrase in the history of professional sports. When I found out the answer was "Nobody!" I realized the team and their fans were delusional and already assumed they were Super Bowl champions. Hence, the annoying swagger from both.
Seriously, the 49ers and their fans make the Detroit Lions look downright humble. And that coach of their's. Imagine having to sit next to him on an airplane for four hours? No thanks, I'll take a screaming toddler with gas and a stinky diaper any time.
After my experience in Montreal, and the fistfights I've seen at Phillies, Flyers and Eagles games over the years, I've learned to be an understated fan. I wore a simple black warm-up pullover with a small gold fleur-de-lis on it, so I can't really be accused of drawing attention to myself. Yet, I drew attention to myself just because I wasn't an obnoxious 49er fan.
Walking around with a Saints jersey on in other stadium you may get the occasional thumbs down, or 'you suck!' thrown at you, but five minutes into my walk around Candlestick I'd already been bumped into by two drunken 49er thugs. How do I know they bumped me on purpose? They changed course to get to me.
Thinking to myself that this was a less-than-friendly park to see a game in, I turned the corner and lo and behold, a prison guard tower came into view. Let me repeat that: the parking lot of Candlestick Park has a 40-foot tall guard tower in the middle of it, presumably to help keep the pre-game murder rate down.
Unperturbed by the threat of bodily harm, I made my way to my seat. You know what? Forty-niners fans don't hold their liquor well. I knew this for sure when the drunken fool two seats to my left kept leaning over his girlfriend to tell me how much I sucked. "Hey. You suck!" he mumbled in that fun and somewhat threatening way only amateur drunks can manage. The game hadn't started yet.
Settling in, I began to notice I was being poked in the back. Over and over again. In fact, it was hard not to notice. I turned and saw a guy who would only have been scarier looking if he'd had a Satan tattoo on his face. He mumbled things about family members of mine he had never met, and got more and more threatening by the minute. I thought of letting security know, but figured I would die an even more horrible death if the thugs around me found out I was a Saints fan and a snitch. We were still in the first quarter.
At halftime I went up to the dark, smelly, horrible men's room and was lucky enough to find a few other Saints fans on line, so I was able to do what I had to do without fear of any number of bad things happening to me. I then ate the most disgusting hot dog I've ever had (Philadelphia Eagles fans take note: your food is worthy of a Michelin star compared to the dreck the people in San Francisco enjoy).
Early in the 3rd quarter I called my wife and told her I loved her and that I would prefer if she waited to start dating again until at least 6 months after my soon-to-occur demise. She bargained me down to 3 months and wished me luck.
Apparently, the rest of the game was pretty exciting. I wouldn't know, because for the first time in my entire life I left a sporting event early. In fact, I left with 8 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. Thanks 49er fans who can't drink without acting like high school sophomores whose moms and dads have left you home alone for the first time ever, the $200 I spent on the ticket was well worth the 2.5 quarters of football I got to watch in between being annoyed by you.
So, I am seriously hoping the Saints exploit Coach Harbaugh's ill-advised mid-season quarterback controversy and take revenge on the 49ers this Sunday. Not because of their playoff loss last year, but because the 49ers are proud owners of the most horrible fan base and the most annoying catchphrase in the history of the world. I bet if San Jose knew what 49ers fans were really like they never would have agreed to let the team escape the horrors of Candlestick and move south.
"Who's Got It Better Than Us?" Seriously? This is your catchphrase?