Bucs fans, this has been one of the most spectacular afternoons of my life. My coworker was gracious enough to bring me to this Bucs vs 49ers game. I've never been to a Buccaneers game before, let alone an NFL football game before, so this was something I looked forward to with great anticipation.
We arrived around 11 AM. The parking lot was completely packed. Niners fans were all about, grilling and cheering amongst one another. It was both remarkable and also quite astounding. Where there any Bucs fans to be found? Yes, there were a handful that I found while we traversed the parking lot. We were few, but we were here nonetheless.
I stepped into Candlestick Park, eager and excited. I felt as I did during Christmas, when I got my first Buccaneers jersey (#12 Trent Dilfer, if any of you were wondering). We made our way to our seats: a mere four rows away from the field itself. I could see Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson warming up. It was fantastic. Later on, some other players made their way out to warmup and greet some of the fans. Raheem Morris approached our small group and began signing our jerseys and tickets. He told us, "You guys are the best fans in the NFC."
For that moment, I felt something truly special. Sure, why not? Of course fans are the best to their own fanbase. But what I think distinguishes us from the others is that while the analysts and naysayers continue to shake their heads at this fine football team, we're still holding strong.
It was a tight game at first, a push and pull where neither side seemed to be able to score anything. Finally, the Bucs managed to score, penetrating through that vaunted 49ers run defense. On the other side of the ball, we were able to pressure the quarterback and stuff Frank Gore in the running lanes.
You know, it's a strange feeling, being a Bucs fan in a stadium full of other fans. As I rose up to cheer, so many called me out, screaming at me, telling me to sit down and shut up. At halftime, as I walked through the back area, fans booed and sneered at me and my jersey. I laughed, that's all.
Within one quarter, their jeers were silenced.
As the day wore on, they grew more and more complacent. Heck, some fans were even diverted to a poor Oakland fan was just watching the game. A bunch of fans turned their heads to mock and harass the Raiders fan, when they should've been concentrating on the action in front of them.
After the Bucs scored for the third and final time, the 49ers fans began shouting at their own team. They began screaming at Troy Smith, telling him that he's a disgrace to this team. It was so disturbing to see. And it's funny, too, because these Niners fans are supposed to be called "The Faithful." Where was their pride?
By the beginning of the fourth quarter, many had already left the stadium, thus diminishing what little morale the 49ers players may have had.
I have to say, this was the best first football game ever. Not only did I watch my favorite team. Not only did I watch my favorite team win. I watched my favorite team win, and win it with a full and heavy heart. Not once did they allow themselves to get sloppy. They performed magnificently. Well done, Bucs, well done.
Walking away from all this, I learned just how wonderful our fanbase is. Sure, we may win some or lose many, but we persevere. That's what it's all about. Not giving up. We have been loyal for this long, and it appears that our loyalty is finally being rewarded.