I’m not sure there is anything more distinctive in a stadium visit than when the sport is football. It’s an all-day event here in The States and that smell of grilling in the parking lot is intoxicating and good vibes immediately consume me. This past weekend, Maryland was the destination and the first stop was the State Capital. Annapolis has to be one of the most charming of those 50 as walking around town is a step back in time with all of the old buildings and brick-lined streets. We got there early so that we had time to explore and the ambiance is certainly something to take in. So are the restaurants as there are plenty to choose from. Adding to the unique feel of the town is that it is home to the United States Naval Academy. It is not uncommon to see the Mids around town in full uniform on a weekend as campus is just a short walk from the historic district. Visitors are welcome to walk around The Yard after passing security and this is one of the most interesting “colleges” to check out. Amazing history, remarkable buildings and a waterfront for Naval activities made the miles of walking that we did go by in the blink of an eye.
Game time at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium was at 3:30 PM and we took an Uber from the Historic District to get there early. It’s a great stadium and they’ve modernized it quite well to have an appealing look. The entire place is a humbling honor to all those who have served and detailed displays are aplenty. The Memorial Arches in the North End Zone are incredibly poignant. Throughout the facility, any nods to Navy Football are non-existent and while that feels like that’s how it should be, it is somewhat odd given that this is a football stadium (saying that, I in no way want to disrespect the incredible memorials all around). When it nears game time, pageantry is not the appropriate word for the traditions that take place, but for lack of a better vocabulary, I’ll use it. I quietly sat to take in the breathtaking March of the Brigade, National Anthem and then the Fly-Over. Chills. During the game, the cannon and fog horn add to the atmosphere, as does the sight of the Mids rushing to the end zone to do push-ups after a score. It’s a unique experience that everyone should check out.
As for the game, it is infuriating to watch Navy’s offense. I know that they’ve had success with it and I know that they have had plenty of big wins, but if I had to watch one more FB Dive go for 0 yards, I was going to poke my eyes out. Undefeated SMU survived the triple option and they came back from a 14-point deficit as the Midshipmen used big plays to build an early lead (a defensive scoop-and-score, plus a 37-yard flea flicker for a touchdown). They finally pulled ahead half way through the fourth quarter and escaped Annapolis with a 31-24 win.
Since it was Parents Weekend, we left the area as hotels were insanely expensive and we opted to stay in relatively close Bowie. From there, the next game was about 20 minutes away in Landover at FedEx Field. That is home to the Washington Football Team, an embarrassment of a franchise with a despicable owner and a horrible stadium. I feel terrible for their once proud fans and can understand why so many opt to not go to games. Just look at the crowd (above) halfway through the first quarter. That’s for a 2-2 football team on a pleasant day. Plus, one-third of that crowd was made up of Saints fans! The stadium is bad as you have many rows of obstructed seats in the lower level (look here and here), railings and glass partitions obstruct many seats in the upper levels and then you have a disjointed top deck thanks to all the rows blocked off. Prices are ridiculous too and since this is Snyder we’re talking about, I’ll give a few ways to save money: 1) Don’t park in a stadium-owned lot for $60. Arrive at least a few hours early and you’ll have no problem getting into the lots off Jericho City Drive for $30 to $40. It’s also an easier exit to the highway. 2) For regular season, non-divisional games, buy the cheapest ticket on the secondary market and then just move to wherever you’d like in the upper deck. 3) Season Ticket holders get 50% off all concessions. With beers going for $14 and crappy sandwiches costing almost $15, we just said we were season ticket holders and got the half rate, no questions asked (and this was without wearing any Washington apparel).
The game was entertaining, as to be expected with Jameis Winston leading the charge. The difference was a Hail Mary at the end of the first half as that 50-yard pass gave New Orleans a 20-13 lead, which was enough to make it last until the end with a 33-22 win. One person that deserved recognition for his performance: Saints punter Blake Gillikin. He had three punts downed inside the five yard line and that was instrumental in field position eventually leading to scores. Though I’ve yet to see a live NFL game come down to the wire, this was an entertaining affair.