I sat down at my computer today with the intention of writing up a new breakdown of the prospect visits but I'm just not feeling it. I'm still going to write it up in the next day or two but reports of player visits are still trickling in and I think we're all getting pretty tired of talking about the draft anyway. The market is saturated and the draft rumors are moving from silly to flat out ridiculous. These extra two weeks have felt like an entire offseason and we could all probably use a break.
So let's switch it up a little! I'm still pretty new to this community and I would like to hear some of your favorite game day stories. I don't care if its alcohol fueled shenanigans at the Dome, an epic victory party after the game, or a Chernobyl style meltdown from you or one of your friends after a particularly bad play or game. It could be a happy memory of watching the game with a close friend or family member or a fond childhood memory too. Warm and fuzzy or just plain blurry memories are welcome here so let's hear them all!
I figure I'll kick things off with my favorite memory at the Dome. I was hard picking just one story. The Vick years were fun. You could never appreciate exactly how fast Mike Vick was until you saw him in person. Those games made quite an impression. Watching Peyton throw pick after pick in 2012 was pretty epic. I could have went with the story of one friend begging us to loan him $100 so he could win back the $20 he lost to the three card monte guys walking around the tailgating lot. That same friend also tested weatherman Paul Ossmann's sense of humor later in the day by calling him a "mini-celebrity". Thankfully Mr. Ossmann (and his Olympic medalist friend) has a great sense of humor! None of those stories though can stack up to the Thursday night Ravens game in 2010 though.
It was the first night game my group of friends had ever been to. We had a pretty solid routine in place for Sunday afternoons. We'd show up early enough to eat a nice breakfast/lunch and have plenty of time to get our game face (brought to you by Crown Royal) on. A Thursday night game was uncharted territory. Everyone in the group had to work that day (and had thankfully weaseled their way out of work the following Friday) so instead of three or four hours to tailgate we only have about ninety minutes. My friends aren't the type to shy away from adversity though. The simple matter of having half the time to drink wasn't going to stand in the way of emptying that big bottle of Crown. We had to be in proper cheering shape because the Ravens were the one seed in the AFC at the time. We couldn't let the team down! Suffice to say we rose to the occasion and somehow managed to make it to our seats in the nosebleeds without incident or the need of a sherpa.
We had managed to get most of our group seated together in one row but we had two late additions that managed to score tickets in the row right behind us. The football gods, who have a great sense of "humor", deemed it necessary to find the single loudest Ravens fan in Atlanta and seat him next to my friend (I'll call him Davey) who was easily his equal in both obnoxiousness and inebriation. It was a perfect storm of trash talk the entire game. It never escalated beyond anything more than friendly rough housing but no one would have mistaken it for polite small talk either.
The game was a crazy one as I'm sure some of you remember. The Falcons took control of the game early when Snelling took a check down 20+ yards for a TD but the Falcons were never able to truly pull away. The Falcons forced consecutive turnovers in the second half that looked like breaking points but the Ravens were able to limit them to field goals on each ensuing possession. Davey (backed by our whole group) made sure to put an exclamation point on each of those turnovers for our Raven supporting neighbor and he'd give it right back to us after each third down stop. We were nervous because we'd held the Raven's offense completely in check most of the game but we knew that tide was bound to turn at some point. We'd already been through a few close games that season and were familiar with the script.
True to form the Ravens climbed their way back into the game. With every first down and subsequent touchdown the Ravens fan behind me got louder. When they went ahead 21-20 with barely over a minute left in the game our purple clad antagonist went bonkers. He had suffered our taunts the entire game yet there he stood vindicated by his team. His faith had been rewarded and his team had pulled off a comeback victory that would be talked about for weeks.
The football gods are a cruel bunch to those who celebrate prematurely. This one lone Ravens fan had forgotten this lesson. He had also overlooked another important fact. A minute on the game clock is an eternity for #2.
Michael Jenkins was never quite became what we hoped for but he knew how to run and catch a corner route. After that huge gain we all knew what was coming and we made sure to share that with our Ravens loving neighbor. Roddy brought in an impressive catch over the middle and he sank even lower in his seat. Things got scary when Baltimore managed a stop on third down but a pass interference call kept us alive. I'm sure everyone remembers how this part of the story ends. Roddy White called on his wrestling background and tossed (newly signed Falcon btw) Josh Wilson to the ground on his way to a game clinching touchdown reception. The Dome exploded in high five and chest bumps. I turned around to share in the excitement with Davey only to find him leaning over a red faced and watery eyed Ravens fan yelling. I can't really emphasize the yelling part enough. It was just a single,high volume note that carried the weight and tension of the entire game firmly on it's shoulders. I didn't want to pile on too much so I turned to celebrate with the rest of my group. After a round of hugs and hand pounds I turned back to check on Davey and found he wasn't there! Confused I looked down and for the first time truly noticed the chaos around me. Davey was laying passed out, upside down, in the seat to my left and my friend that had been sitting there originally was laid out sideways on top of the row in front of him. That chaos continued on like almost to the rail. The moment I'd originally turned my attention from Davey he was overcome by the effort of his epic war whoop and collapsed like a bunch of broccoli. Instead of falling into his seat he fell forward spawning a human landslide in the stands of the Georgia Dome. Thankfully the effects were limited to only a handful or rows and since no one was hurt it was only a minor interruption to the celebration. To the credit of the poor, deflated Ravens fan he helped us get Davey to his feet and congratulated us on a hard fought win before slinking off to the exit. Until that day I'd always felt I was as passionate of a fan as there could be. Davey raised the bar that night. Cheering until you pass out and almost kill a section of fans is a completely new level I'm not sure I'll ever reach.
I didn't intend on writing a novella when I started out but I appreciate anyone who actually makes it all the way through this. Please chime in with your own stories! It's moments like these that cement our love for the game and the Falcons. Everyone has at least one or two so let's hear them!