This week, Deadspin and Jezebel swap beats to celebrate America’s most dangerous and controversial pastimes: football and fashion, two sports that have far more in common than you think.
What is it like to go to a football game? Does it hurt? Are you sure? We had no idea until August 30, 2018, when the New York Giants played the New England Patriots in a pre-season game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was a night that would change both of our lives, which nearly ended at the side of a highway a good distance away from the stadium.
Katie: I thought I was outsmarting people at Port Authority by buying myself and Megan tickets for the 160 bus to Elmwood Park, but I was not outsmarting anyone. While we did skip what was a long line for the “stadium bus,” and I personally enjoyed walking through the bowels of Port Authority, about 30 minutes later we were spit out on the side of a highway in New Jersey without a real sense of how we were supposed to get to the stadium. I considered our options—walk across the highway?—but ultimately called a Lyft. The driver, a man who said he had attended many Jets games in his life, advised us to not eat the food because it is very expensive. Instead, he suggested a meatball sub from a deli that was easily 5 miles away. The light at this point in the day was golden, casting the stretch of highway in an ethereal light that made standing there pretty nice, all things considered.
Megan: I love Port Authority; I love standing in lines; I love getting off on the side of the road during magic hour, shortly after passing the Meadowlands and waiting to call a Lyft while also staging a small photo shoot. Had we stayed in the line and bought tickets for the “event bus,” we would have been dropped right off at the gaping mouth of MetLife Stadium—but we would’ve missed the light that allowed me to utilize portrait mode on my phone and capture the beautiful images that accompany this text. I imagine our ride on the event bus would’ve been much rowdier; instead, Katie and I chatted quietly about life, discovered that we have a friend in common from our past, and tried to figure out how we would get home. Also, the bus driver that dropped us off on the side of the road certainly tricked us.
Katie: I don’t know if it was just relief that we had managed to get there in the first place, but I felt euphoric at the sight of MetLife Stadium: the parking lots, the imposing security apparatus, the workers directing already drunk people to surrender their bags. Riding up the escalator, I marveled at the feat of engineering, and parasitic use of public lands and infrastructure, involved in building such a stadium. I felt very small in the world, pleasantly insignificant in the face of such a towering development. I was struck by a sense of longing and grief for a life I had never known: I chose the wrong profession. I should have been an engineer for sports stadiums. In this parallel fantasy life as an engineer, I would have been able to retire comfortably.
Megan: A well-designed sports stadium is a thing of great beauty and I must say, MetLife is pretty good. Is it built on a swamp? Yes. Were there a bajillion bugs teeming in front of the lights of the stadium? Certainly! I appreciate spectacle of all sorts, and this enormous slab of a sports temple was full of spectacle. There was a Verizon Wireless charging station that we only noticed on the way down, as well as a “fan combine” in front of the stadium that allows fans to uh, do the combine, if they want? I don’t know why they would want, though if it had been open, I would’ve certainly tried.
Katie: Incredibly, Megan Greenwell, editor in chief of Deadspin, bought us tickets on opposite sides of the stadium. My seat, specifically, did not exist. (Row 28, seat 11, in section 340.) (Editor’s note: My Stubhub receipt claims the seats are entirely real, and right next to each other.) Instead, we had to steal seats and cower in fear every time someone approached our row. This is no doubt what Megan wanted to happen. During halftime, I took advantage of the disordered seating and lax security and suggested we sneak down to the first level. We did, and our seats were much better. We were close enough to see the players, and when I saw Tom Brady walk by on the field, I booed him. About 15 minutes later, a family with many small children asked us to move. We were in their seats.
Megan: I spent roughly 15 minutes sitting in the seat that I was assigned, wondering why Katie wasn’t also there while mentally cataloguing the concessions available. Eventually, a family showed up and headed straight for my seats, which happened just as Katie called me informing me that she was roughly five miles away from me on the other side of the stadium. As I hastily gathered my NFL-regulation-size clear plastic bag of my belongings, a moth the size of a small bird flew into my hip. The seats we snuck into were incredible, though I will say that there isn’t a bad seat at MetLife. Even when you’re at the very top of the stadium, you can see the action clearly enough to feel like you’re in the action. However, being in the good seats is what it feels like to be rich.
Katie: I knew before arriving that I was going to get chicken fingers with honey mustard. Sadly, life had other plans: There was no honey mustard. Holding a beer, a bottle of water, and a basket of chicken fingers and fries at precarious angles, I walked to several sauce stations in search of honey mustard only to find one broken pump. But when God closes a door, etc.: The barbecue sauce was incredible. I filled two little cups. The chicken fingers platter was $12, and I asked for the “value water,” which cost $2, but was told there was no “value water.” I purchased a water at full price. I wanted nachos, but did not get them.
Megan: There were so many more food options than I had anticipated. As overwhelmed as I was, I went for what I knew would be reliable and delicious. Coincidentally, it was exactly what Katie got. I was less distressed by the absence of honey mustard but pleased to find that there was a giant ranch dressing dispenser in perfect working condition. Other food items that I desired but did not purchase include: the aforementioned nachos; Dippin’ Dots; sausage and peppers; an egg roll; cheese fries. The beer was served to us in a plastic cup with a lid and straw and now I wish every beer I consumed was served to me in this way. So much easier! Also, I should’ve brought a WetNap. My bad.
Katie: The sight of parents and children at the game together made me nostalgic for an experience I never actually had as a child. I was happy to be part of the crowd, sharing in their boredom punctuated by moments of great excitement. (“Third down.”)
Megan: There’s a very specific kind of sports fan that, for some reason, fills me with a nostalgia for my time in Boston during college: white bros roving in packs, talking about sports in one of the many varietals of accents from the Tri-state area. A clutch of those men sat behind us in our bad seats. Closer to the field, I observed a family of Patriots fans and Giants fans engaging in some friendly shit-talking. I know football is bad, but I also love football. Sue me.
Katie: I have no memory of this.
Megan: I was hot, and unfortunately, when I am hot, that occupies most of my focus. However, I responded appropriately to the crowd’s reactions to various scenarios during the game, like touchdowns, interceptions, passes, yardage gains, etc. Most interesting to me was watching all the other little men who were doing football stuff like blocking. Watching football on TV means the camera follows the ball. There are so many other things happening! I wish I knew what more of them were.
Katie: My notes read: “Everyone very strong. Kind of weird.”
Megan: Again, I was focused on the temperature, which is a fault of mine that I am working on correcting. I was not really focusing on the athletes, though, and spent most of the time looking for Bill Belichick, a man whose enigmatic style has fascinated me for at least a decade. I could not pick him out from the lineup of ruddy white men in bad sports clothes on the sidelines, but you know, it’s whatever.
Katie: Giants lost, we would learn later (the next day). We did not stay until the end of the game in order to avoid traffic. I felt a sense of euphoria to match the experience of our arrival: In life, the only thing nicer than getting there is leaving. Go Giants. Eat shit, Pats.