Skins, Steelers and Politics
"Politics meets Redskins meets Monday [bleepin'] night!" Adam Gibson was shouting through a megaphone at a group of Steelers fans two hours before kickoff. "What's Pennsylvania waiting for?"
You know it's the Monday night before an election when the President of the Dead Tree Crew is resorting to insulting the visitors for their tossup status. He also said Steelers fans should be disenfranchised.
And the night remained somewhat political as the game approached, with all manner of political signs. Heather Knighton's advised fans to Vote Jim Zorn 4 President, "because he's hot," she explained. "I mean, if Obama can run, anybody can run, right?"
A few sections over, another fan hoisted a sign proclaiming "Joe the #1 Fan for Jim Zorn." His full name was Joe Smith (really), and he had chosen "Joe the #1 Fan" over "Joe the Retiree."
"I've OD'd on the robo calls," he said. "It's information overload. You just have to add a little humor to it."
One Redskins fan had a fake ballot, whose choices read McCain-Palin, Obama-Biden and Campbell-Portis. A Steelers fan countered with a fake ballot whose choices read McCain-Palin, Obama-Biden and Roethlisberger-Ward. Several Obama-Biden signs popped up in the lower level, right next to another sign about bleeding black and gold. "Projected winner: Steelers," read a huge banner several rows away. Another Steelers fan defaced one of the thousands of "Vote the Redskins Ticket" Pro Bowl yard signs with the words "Steel City," in the night's closet approximation of "Nobama" vandalism.
And then there were Dave Fitz and James Wilhilde, boasting front-row 50-yard line seats and matching signs: "Cooley 4 Pres" and "Portis 4 V.P."
"Cooley's the man," Wilhilde said, "and Portis is going to be MVP this year, so [VP's] close enough."
"Someone knocked over my beer!" he said, interrupting himself. "Bet it was a Steelers fan. Someone knocked over both my beers!"
And you see, this was the crucial point. When it really came down to it, aside from Chris Berman's halftime interviews with the candidates and the ESPN political button promos and the scattered Obama shirts and McCain buttons, this was a fairly non-partisan event. One Steelers fan said she thought of reprising her Sarah Palin Halloween costume, then decided not to. Two Canadians with a Maple Leaf flag thought about adding a political message about the election, but ran out of time.
Jen Young of Fairfax skipped Obama's closing event in Prince William County to come to the game. To make up for it, she made a huge Obama banner, but her seats were higher than usual and the people in the front row are conservatives.
"They wouldn't let me put my sign up," she lamented, "so it's at home."
And everywhere, there were fans saying they were happy not to see canvassers or hear stump speeches, that they had even banned political talk while they grilled their dead animals.
"This is football," Baltimore's Mike Vacin said. "Football has nothing to do with politics. It's two separate entities. I'm here to watch three hours of Redskins football, not worry about taxes. I'll vote tomorrow, not today."
And so back to Adam Gibson, the man with the megaphone and the battleground smack, whose patter quickly left the world of the Electoral College and turned to the Terrible Towels he had lit on fire.
"You know what's terrible?" he asked the crowd. "How quickly they go up in flames. That's terrible."
"You know what's terrible?" countered Steelers fan Shawn Wagner. "That they buy the Terrible Towels just to burn them. They might as well just burn the $5 bills."
Then everyone dispersed to drink DTC punch.
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