Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cardinals Fans are Weaker Than Coors Light

Or MGD 64. Or Michelob Ultra. No, wait, make it O'Doull's. Yeah, that's about right. We made the short drive to Phoenix on Saturday for the upcoming Eagles-Cardinals NFC Championship game Sunday. We stayed in Scottsdale a few blocks away from the Upper Deck Sports Bar, home of the Eagles Desert Nest fan club that was hosting a pep rally for the thousands of Eagles fans who made the trip from around the country. When I hear "sports bar", I don't think of a bar stocked with microbrews...and this place was no exception to my expectations. So we bit the bullet and joined everyone else who was buying up the Miller Lite cans on special. Hell, we were buying them four at a time. And we liked it. It was perfect beer for the warm weather and party atmosphere. We drank well into the night and enjoyed the camaraderie of the best fans in football.

On to the game. We left our hotel and started up the trusty GPS to guide us to the game. Unfortunately, the GPS had no idea that there was a marathon going on that had every street we needed to turn on blocked off. I didn't know how to tell it this, so we just kind of went up and over, up and over, until we arrived at the stadium. Nice place. Too bad it was filled with the biggest group of front running bandwagon jumpers I have ever had the displeasure to be around. There were many Eagles fans sitting in our section, and probably another 10,000 more scattered around the stadium, but that still left 60,000 clueless Arizona fans to deal with. These people didn't even know the rules. Eagles fans on many occasions had to turn and explain to dumbasses what the calls meant. They didn't even know their players: "Go number 38!" was overheard. I'm shaking my head as I write this. And don't get me started on the newness of the jerseys. Don't forget to take the tags off, ladies.

This may seem like a bit of sour grapes as the Eagles lost, but don't get me wrong. I give the Cardinals team all the credit they deserve, as they came out with a great gameplan that succeeded. But the "fans" don't deserve anything. Eagles fans stay with the team through bad seasons, selling out every home game and traveling to other cities to root for them, more so than any other fan base. They sit in freezing temperatures and scream their lungs out. And they always will. They may have a bad reputation, but oh well. Cry about it. I personally embrace it. One of the highlights of my day was as we were exiting the stadium and a stadium employee standing by the escalators said, "Thanks for coming today!" to us and a couple of other Eagles fans. One of the guys looked at her and said,"Your fans are a fucking joke!" Oh, good old Philly. Cardinals fans were streaming out at the same time as us. Some fans- their team wins the NFC Championship and they don't even stay around for the trophy presentation. Like the guy said, they are indeed a joke.

Finding a place to drown our sorrows was not a problem, as we weren't far from Papago Brewing, rated 6th best beer bar in the country by BeerAdvocate readers. Papago sits in a strip mall in a spot that you never would give a second look to, but the inside holds a great beer selection. 30 taps that rotate frequently, and a large cooler that hosts a unique bottle selection. It is unique in the regard that both 12 and 22 oz. selections are available to drink at the bar, as well as to purchase for take out. Customers pick out the beer from the coolers themselves and bring their selection to the bar to be opened by the bartender. If only the taps were self serve too!

We had a Big Sky IPA, a bottle of Left Coast Torrey Pines IPA, and tasters of North Coast Old Stock, Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter, and local favorite Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter. I don't know how we tried all these beers, as the bartender was very inattentive and it took a long time to get served every time we were empty. I give him some benefit of the doubt, as he said that he was working the bar during the game and the place was packed for hours. The guy looked drained and we knew how he felt. It was that kind of day.

We made one final visit to the Upper Deck, though the mood was not as festive as the previous evening. We had a couple of beers with some Philly guys who made the trip. They were down but not despairing. True Eagles fans that they are, they know that there is always next year, or the year after, or the year after. They will watch every game and cheer (and boo) their team regardless of how the season is going. They will be there for every exhilarating score and suffer through every heartbreaking loss. And so will we.

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