While I’ve been to quite a few live pro wrestling events, hockey games and baseball games, I’ve only been to three pro football games. No soccer or NASCAR, I’ve got better things to do.
The first football game I went to was between my two favorites, the Dolphins and the Bengals. At the time I was more of a Dolphins fan, and my aunt was a HUGE Bengals fan. The two were playing that year in the first of the “Shula-bowls” and my mom bought my aunt and I tickets to the game for Christmas. We went to the only stadium in town at the time, Riverfront Stadium. Back then it was okay for two different pro sports teams to share a house.
I went in my Dolphins jersey, my aunt in her Bengals jersey. We were sitting in a predominantly Dolphins fan area (which at the time was the whole place) and my aunt got a lot of shit from everyone sitting around us. During the game when she was excited for a play, she punched my arm. When she was pissed, she punched my arm. I couldn’t move my arm when we left.
Years later after Paul Brown Stadium was built and the Bengals were just beginning their rebuilding phase (that is currently still going on and won’t be complete until we get a new owner) they were starting to do well. Not too well, but well enough that the city was behind them for the first time in a long time. The game I got to go to was against the then undefeated Chiefs, and the Bengals beat the hell out of them. That was exciting.
The game I wanted to tell you about, though, was the last game I went to. It was a few years after that Chiefs game and I scored tickets in the end zone just up from the field. They were great seats, except my buddy and I only spent about ten minutes in them.
On our way down to the game at 9 in the morning, we had a six-pack of tall boys we were drinking. You know, to get us started proper. One of the few times I’ve ever drank beer while driving. It was cool, because it was 9 on a Sunday morning and we were headed to a Bengals game. No traffic.
We parked in Covington because that particular parking lot is free. Our plan was to catch a Tank, their public transportation bus, back across the river, and then catch one back. It’s only a couple dollars both ways, which is much better than paying for a parking space near the stadium.
When we got there, there was one other car in the lot and they were back in the corner. Two guys tailgating by themselves, yet having a great time. They yelled over to us and we joined them. Also I should mention it was something like 20 degrees out and I wasn’t wearing very much, and they were parked in the shade.
As time went on, more people showed up and our little party grew. Some of the people they knew, most they didn’t. We knew nobody. We finished the beer we brought and they shared theirs with us. Then they pulled out a bottle of whiskey and passed it around. At one point we told them we were going to catch a Tank over and they told us to ride the ferry. This was new to me, but they had obviously done this before.
I’m pretty sure it was only $2 round trip, which was the price of a one way trip on the Tank. Plus you could drink on the ferry. If you had your own beer in cans in a plastic grocery bag, you could bring your own on, plus they had a bar. HOLY SHIT. And after the game they would bring us back across for free. How could we say no? We didn’t. Sorry Tank, my drunk ass is riding a boat.
We stumbled on a swaying ferry and began our trip back to Ohio. I stopped at the bar and got a few rum and cokes. I’m not sure what my buddy was drinking, but we were both nice and sloshed, and the game hadn’t begun yet. We weren’t even at the stadium yet.
Once we got to the bank, we had to walk up what seemed like a billion steps just to get to street level, and then a billion more once we got to the stadium. But once we made it to the main level, there were guys standing there selling big plastic bottles of beer that we could take into the stadium with us. Why sure, we’d love to buy some. And we did.
At this point we really had to pee. We had been peeing in the snow that lined the parking lot we had been tailgating in, but the ferry ride was long and it was cold out and we had a lot of beer flowing through us. So as soon as we got into the stadium we went to the bathroom. When we came out, we had to get more beer. Then we had to get something to eat. Then we ate and needed more beer. Then we had to pee again. Then we needed more beer. THEN we went to find our seats. It was some time in the second quarter.
Oh yeah, the Bengals were playing the Browns. Whatever.
After ten minutes we needed another beer, so we got out of our seats and never went back. We found the two guys we had been partying with and hung out with them the rest of the game. It was a great time, and I often think about them when I’m watching the Bengals play. I can’t remember their names now, but I think the one had “Big Daddy” on the back of his specialized jersey. If you happen to read this Big Daddy, thanks for the memories buddy.
When the game was over (the Bengals won) we left and went to a wing joint for food and more beer. Before the food came my buddy said he needed to lay down, so he went to my car and passed out. It was dark by this point and probably cooler than 20 degrees outside, but he slept like a baby. I sat in the wing joint by myself eating wings and drinking beer.
Great fun was had, and it only cost me a million bucks. That’s why I’ve never been back to a game.