Friday, February 12, 2010

Great Lakes Football

As the season wraps up I am led to reflect on the last four months of 2009 as they relate to football. I used to work in retail so early September meant the end of the "Back to School" buying season and the start of the all important "Opening Weekend" shopping binge by much of male America. In short that means big screen TVs are flying off the shelves for about 10 days at the beginning of the football season. "Oooo, shiny!" In September every team has a shot at the Superbowl so all hopes and dreams look that much better in 50-inch hi-def.

I'm so happy not to work in retail anymore but looking back again reminded me of a trip I took through the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes States of the country. In a span of four days I made it from Dallas to Milwaukee, drove to Green Bay, flew to Rochester, New York via Cleveland and then, to cap it all off, down to Tampa, Florida on the fifth day by way of Baltimore. Football towns one and all!

Well, except Rochester but that merely illustrates the unique nature of this entire expedition. Living in Dallas over the past two years I was able to watch the new Cowboys Stadium being built and host the inaugural season. I drove to Green Bay specifically to pay my respects at Lambeau Field. On the flight to Rochester from Milwaukee we approached the connecting hub at Cleveland over Lake Erie and I was fortunate enough to be on the right hand side of the plane during the descent. The skyline appeared out of the haze and right on the waterfront was the new stadium for the Cleveland Browns.

There are family ties to the area but this is the first time I have laid eyes on the city. We flew over downtown on the way to the airport where my connecting flight waited to take me to Rochester. I wondered to myself if I would pull a hat trick on this trip, having seen Lambeau and now the Cleveland stadium already. The third would be Ralph Wilson Stadium in suburban Buffalo, home of the Bills. In maybe 40 minutes of flying I had my answer as we started our descent yet again over Lake Erie with me again on the right hand side of the small commuter jet.

I'm a lightweight NFL geek. I'm curious about other football cities and what their culture must be like compared to mine, what their rituals are and most importantly where their stadiums are located. It's not necessarily saying much in knowing where each of the 32 NFL stadiums are located but it was something unique, I felt, to see so many of them on one trip that was not specific to that purpose.

Off the edge of the wing Ralph Wilson Stadium appeared, blue seating clearly visible. Hat trick! And it only kept going from there as I saw M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, where I also used to live, and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa before heading back home to Texas.

Yea, seeing stadiums is one thing but how many have I actually visited...during regular season games? So far only six.

Gotta go!

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