11.1.14

Football!

Since I was a child, I have enjoyed watching sports (rather than practising them), so when the opportunity came to visit the Metlife Stadium for a football game, we had to be there.


I have always liked american football (sometimes even more than soccer), I admire the strength of the players, the ability to create and follow game strategies (not to mention the crushes I had on some quarterbacks) and most of all, the great, super-respectful atmosphere of the games.
The MetLife Stadium is home to the 2 New York teams, the Jets and the Giants, and it's one of the newest and biggest stadiums in the US, which will also host this year's Super Bowl (hopefully the weather won't be as cold as it is in NYC these days).
After getting our tickets on StubHub (the Official Ticketmaster Exchange service fees were too high), we had to figure out the best way to get to the stadium, which is in Rutherford, NJ. So, the 2 best options were: a) the Coach USA's shuttle bus from Port Authority bus station ($10 round trip) and b) the train from Penn Station to Secaucus Junction and from there to the Stadium (about $10.50 round trip). We decided to take the train to avoid the traffic and it was fairly easy to do (even got the tickets online!), the only negative thing is that there are only 3 or 4 trains in the first 20 minutes of every hour from NY Penn to Secaucus, so if you miss the last one, you'll have to wait at least half an hour to get on the next one (no big deal but I could expect this in Italy, not in New York!). Anyhow, getting to the stadium was easy, also because we just had to follow the green wave of fans who were heading there.
Tailgating
Free Porchetta!
Games outside the stadium
The stadium is huge, and the atmosphere outside is as great as you imagine, we were introduced to the concept of "tailgating", the activity of hanging out in the parking lot of the stadium with fellow fans, drinking, eating and getting ready for the game, I can see why they drink outside, at $10 a beer inside the stadium! It's like having a "botellon" in the parking lot! On the day we were there, they were also giving away free food (porchetta sandwiches!) and hot chocolate (on an unusual 20°C winter day, maybe a cold drink would have been better). The Jets' band was playing, there were activities everywhere, all good for creating the atmosphere.

So when the game starts, everyone starts heading to their seats, the teams enter the field, they all sing the national anthem and then it's time! From that moment on, it's a continuous cheering, fans from both teams are seating next to each other (no separate seating in the NFL) and they are so respectful! When one of the teams scores, the fans of that team celebrate while the other team is silent, no insults, no pushing, just a little mocking and joking; same happens when it's the other team's turn. Everyone is so civil, even after some litres of over-priced beer (they stop selling after the half time break).
Game typical food

Mark Sanchez (Jets' QB)
Rival team fan - note the shorts, it was really 20°C!
I remember going to a soccer game in Milan last year (a friendly match of the national team) and it was nothing like this, I mean, the atmosphere inside was fine but it was a nightmare getting inside the stadium, trying to get the tickets (that we had already paid), being pushed very bad, the lame security check, etc. So, the fact that at the Metlife we had an electronic ticket we just printed and scanned at the gates, the super fast (but thorough) security check and the feeling of a friendly atmosphere all contributed to making our experience great. Btw, if you don't know yet, from this season (2013) there's a new bag policy for entering the stadiums for an NFL game: you can't bring bags unless they are super tiny clutches or see through bags (of max. 12''). No camera cases, lenses bigger than 6'' or drinks. It is very restrictive, but hey, those are the rules. I got this nice see-through bag with the Jets' logo on Amazon so that I could bring my wallet, phone, camera and extra lens with me and it was perfect:
 At the end of the game (the Jets won!) we just got on the train back to Secaucus, then back to Penn Station with all the other fans, super happy we did it! Even spotted the One WTC and the Empire State Building from Secaucus: