Since Gretz is a season-ticket holder, he’s going to take a look at the debauchery and insanity that takes place in the Heinz Field stands after every home game he attends.
The weather reports for Saturday night called for a chance of scattered showers. What we received was a monsoon that nearly consumed us all, resulting in an hour-long weather delay thanks to numerous lightning strikes. If we were smart, we would have taken shelter as we watched the storm clouds roll in from the west. But, hell, there was football to watch and we certainly couldn’t tear ourselves away from Issac Redman plunging into the end zone behind the third-team offensive line in a completely meaningless preseason game.
(Thanks to the river that was flowing around our feet, my shoes ended up taking the worst of it, and now my place has the smell of moldy, wet feet. It’s a small price to pay, however.)
We were one of the last people to leave the seating area as play was halted, and as we attempted to enter the concourse, we quickly realized this had the potential to be a disaster. What greeted us in the tunnel just below our seats was probably a violation of every fire code in existence. A mass of humanity that saw thousands of people face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder, ass-to-ass.
Honestly, words can’t do it justice. Just look at this chaos.
I don’t care that Heinz Field is a relatively plain stadium with few luxuries. It’s a football stadium, and football fans don’t need – or have any use for — the type of amenities you would find at, say, PNC Park. That doesn’t excuse the cramped, undersized concourses. The announced attendance on the night was a shade over 55,000, well below the stadium’s capacity of 65,000, and it was still madness. Had it been a capacity crowd I am certain we would have been on the threshold of anarchy.
At one point, I found myself pinned between a wall and a couple that appeared to be on the verge of making out right there in the middle of the pile. I knew there was only one place I wanted to be at that moment, and it was anywhere but there.
After about 30 minutes, however, the concourse began to open as many fans were rushing for the exits. Why you would leave at that point, while it was still pouring buckets, and after paying full price for an exhibition game, is beyond my level of comprehension.
Eventually, though, the rain stopped, and we were able to return to our seats. The remaining crowd looked a little something like this…
* One of the things I wanted to watch for was the reaction to Ben Roethlisberger. I saw some analysts predict that he would receiver a rather a negative reaction. Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk, for example wrote the following prior to the game:
But here’s the reality. Plenty of seasoned season-ticket holders no longer care for the guy, and those folks likely don’t feel strongly enough about the situation to drive to Latrobe. Also, boos carry a lot more effectively than cheers.
Well, take it from this seasoned season-ticket holder: a larger number of season ticket holders never cared for the guy, even before his offseason escapades. What they do care for, however, is winning. I didn’t hear it personally, but I’ve been told there was a “We Want Ben” chant around the lower bowl during one of the first-team offensive possessions.
Even so, I made sure to keep a look out for No. 7 jersey’s, and while there seemed to be a slight decline in the overall numbers, they were still out and about, and here’s visual proof…
* There’s always that one guy that shows up wearing a jersey from a team that’s not playing. On Saturday, there was a Brian Urlacher Chicago Bears jersey in the parking lot, we spotted two Buffalo Bills jersey’s (one was Terrell Owens, the other Willis McGahee), and on our way into the stadium we spotted Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins.
None of those can hold a candle to the one we spotted two rows in front of us: Ron Artest, Los Angeles Lakers. Not only a completely random team, but also the wrong sport (also pictured: another Ben Roethlisberger).
Here’s a question: Which player would you want to play against the least: James Harrison or Ron Artest? Both are all sorts of crazy, and both have had their own “interactions” with opposing fans. Though, Harrison’s was comical and deserving, while Artest’s was, well … not.
* Players I liked on Saturday: Antonio Brown, Crezdon Butler, Ziggy Hood, Isaac Redman, Stevenson Sylvester and Keenan Lewis. The play where Lewis was matched up one-on-one with Calvin Johnson and broke up a potential touchdown in the end zone happened down in our end of the field, and it was a beautiful play. And it’s not like that was against some fourth-team jobber that’s going to be playing in the UFL this season; that was Calvin freakin’ Johnson.
* Players I didn’t like on Saturday: Flozell Adams and running backs putting the football on the ground. I think that first drive of the night had a chance to be a winner, until Mendenhall simply dropped the football. It appeared as if Flozell Adams wanted to pick it up and run with it, but smartly decided to fall on it. Honestly, if Mendehnall doens’t fumble on that play he might take it all the way.