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OAKLAND, CA (Special to the Sportsman’s Daily) — I was told if I wanted to grasp the game of football – American Football – I’d have to journey across the big pond. I’d have to start out the week by exposing myself to the hype, endlessly listening to sports radio, and finally on Sunday, get to the stadium four hours early to partake in something the Americans call “tailgating.” We Brits do something like that before a football match (you call it soccer). We quaff down bountiful amounts of Watney’s Red Barrel and beat fans from the opposing side until their lifeless bodies have been drained of blood. It’s all in good fun, and keeps the rivalries fresh.
I’ve heard my American colleagues say things like “They need to utilize the pass more” “Did you see that interception?” and “When are they going to give the rookie a chance?”
I didn’t know what any of that means. But I am determined to find out.
Thursday, September 4: British Airways. London to New York.
It’s clear to me that pre and post game analysis is important to Americans. It’s like the male version of the daily soap opera the ladies seem to fancy. Football, it seems, gives the lads something to talk about other that their own boring, pathetic, lives.
I’m with that!
Later. JFK Airport. New York.
Now that I’m in America, where am I going to watch a game?
I must find the Mecca of American football.
Friday, September 5: Green Bay, Wisconsin.
How interesting. A true Mecca I’m told. But it’s cold here and it’s September. It’s cold in England too. But generally we’re not buried under five feet of snow till May, so I’ll skip it.
Saturday, September 6: Dallas, Texas.
TSD’s own Chet Lassiter told me about this place – where businessmen who wouldn’t know the ass end of a horse from their own ass end love to dress up as cowboys with their ten gallon hats and faux “whooping it up” hysteria. To add to the mystique, they play their country music in their SUV surround-sound system while sitting in the parking lot “tailgating.” Then its inside to the stadium with a hole in its roof to cheer on a team called “the Cowboys.” It is a team that apparently has a history as well as pretty girls called cheerleaders who go through nearly as much rigorous training as the Cowboys themselves. In England, our girls train too – by running out of the stands onto the field and kicking the opposing (player who just scored a goal) square in the nuts until he upchucks last night’s dinner of bangers and mash.
I’ll pass on Dallas too.
Sunday, September 7: Oakland, California.
I like it here – big fan of Northern California. I’m in my hotel room and I am really looking forward to experiencing first hand the Raiders’ gregarious Head Coach John Madden and his host of all-pro players. Men named Biletnikoff, Stabler, van Eeghen, Branch, Casper, and Sistrunk. It’s a Monday game – I can hardly wait.
Monday, September 8: Oakland Coliseum.
Hmm. Strange. No Biletnikoff, Stabler, van Eeghen, Branch, Casper, and Sistrunk. And no Madden. Seems he’s talking about football now and hocking some video game.
Denver 41- Oakland 14. That wasn’t supposed to happen either.
This great Oakland Raiders football team is hardly great. Granted, I don’t understand the game yet, but I can see even from my lofty vantage point that these fellows bite the biggie.
I’m walking out of the stadium now amid dejected American football fans who are wearing horrifying ritualistic face paint and large and strange headgear. There is very little chatter now, save the occasional mutterings of “when are they going to give the rookie a chance?” Must return to my hotel room and drink heavily.
Tuesday, September 9: SFO Airport.
I’m on my way back to gloomy England. So, did I learn anything on my quest for American football? Yes. Wearing horrifying ritualistic face paint and large and strange headgear while going through airport security will definitely get you a cavity search.
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