Is going to an NFL game worth your Sunday?

90-degree heat.

$7.75 Bud Light Limes.

0 bottle caps.

Watching your fantasy team lose live? Worthless.

I went to my first NFL game a few weeks ago and it was, like, cool. Kinda. Sorta. Well, I guess if you’re into watching middle-aged white men with beer guts and poorly shaven goatees wearing two-sizes-too-tight Cam Newton jerseys yelling obscenities for three hours. Fun indeed!

The Carolina Panthers were hosting the Minnesota Vikings in the friendly — and half empty — confines of Bank of America Stadium, and I decided to test the value of a $90 top-row seat in the middle of the 90-degree heat to see if it could possibly recreate, or even usurp, the jubilation of sitting on my butt for 10 hours watching NFL football on Sundays from the comfort of my couch.

The first thing you should know about attending an NFL game is that, amidst television networks’ opposition towards this movement, teams actually warm up on the field before games (weird, right?). The second thing you should know is that during the one-hour warmup, the DJ plays at least six Drake songs, five of which have no current pop culture relevance. ~With all due respect to the game operations team, do yourself a huge favor and throw on at least one Michael Jackson song. You’ll thank me later.~

If you like beer, but don’t like Bud Light, you’re royally screwed. In fact, don’t even bother showing up to Panthers games. You’re better off watching the games at your local Buffalo Wild Wings. At least a Bud Light there won’t put you at risk of being audited by the IRS (tax returns will need to be disclosed). The Panthers charge $7.75 for a Bud Light Lime.

A Bud Light Lime!

I’d rather drink a Natural Light that’s been sitting in my friend’s fridge for six months than pay $7.75 to hold a Bud Light Lime. The Founding Fathers must be screaming from their graves. This is an abomination!

Did I mention it was 90 degrees outside? I did? Well, I’ll say it again. It was burning hot outside. The Panthers are kind enough to give every purchasing customer a full  — not queen or king — sized seat. But the blue plastic burns your butt so badly, you’d rather stand anyway. Good thing there’s such a splendid view of the famous Charlotte skyline from our seats. A great panoramic Instagram picture is surely on its way to producing a substantial amount of “likes.” That’s a win in my book.

Hungry? Of course you are, but good luck finding a chicken sandwich anywhere inside Bank of America Stadium. Don’t believe me? I (almost) walked around the entire stadium to try and find one. What’s a guy gotta do to get a goddamn grilled chicken sandwich? It’s not like I’m asking for a chicken piccata, hold the capers and light on the sauce (although that would’ve hit the spot). If you’re in a pickle, already in the hole $12 for that cool, but not cold, Sierra Nevada, and don’t want to spend another $12 on frozen chicken fingers and super salty fries, settle with the overpriced, yet incredibly mediocre, personal pizza, courtesy of Papa John’s. It’ll leave you with that tingling feeling in your stomach that you’ll meet head on in the late-afternoon. It’s just mediocre enough to not cause any troubles right before halftime when the crowd destroys the bathrooms.

The bathrooms. Generally speaking, they’re fine and get the job done. What struck me was the NSFW language pregame. I mean, the Panthers’ odds of losing haven’t gone 0 to 100 that quick yet, and we’re already speaking fourth-quarter language here. It was expected by halftime, but pregame seemed quite early for F bombs to be dropping every other word. One thing you can’t fault NFL fans for is their concise vocabulary. Phil Simms was absolutely right  — beer is a wonderful thing.

I mentioned that Instagram earlier. Good luck getting updates on your “likes” inside the “friendly” confines of Bank of America Stadium. Cell phone service and Wi-Fi simply don’t exist anywhere within two miles of the stadium. I’ve never been to the Sahara Desert, but I hear the Wi-Fi hot spots there are really bad. I can confirm they’re still better than in Bank of America Stadium. Part of me thinks that’s a low-key great thing  — maybe I should actually pay attention to the product I paid over $100 (tax and processing fees included) to watch.

Except, it’s hard to call something a functioning product when it stops every five minutes for a two-minute commercial break. Seriously, I would pay an extra $20 if it meant we didn’t have to sit through a “media timeout” after every punt. Although, if there’s one part of NFL football you can only appreciate in the flesh, it has to be the skill of these NFL punters. HD just can’t do them justice.

You know what’s also spectacular? The seat that separated me from the dude to my left. The dude, who came to the game with his nice family, kept slamming the seat against the concrete in what I can only assume was an attempt to distract Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford. I’ll give you the SparkNotes version  — it wasn’t effective. Bradford, who normally folds under the slightest bit of pressure and noise, wouldn’t be deterred by any seat-slamming this Sunday. In fact, Bradford was quite consistent and outdueled Newton, which definitely wasn’t mentioned on StubHub. Do I get my money back?

Meanwhile, my fantasy team is getting absolutely hammered. You know what’s worse than getting obliterated in fantasy football? Watching it in plain sight … sober. My opponent played the Minnesota Vikings’ defense, and thanks to Newton’s three interceptions and a Minnesota punt-return touchdown, I had to sit in the 90-degree heat (did I mention that already?) as my fantasy team took the first of several L’s this season. I’m pretty sure Cam decided to screw me in the fourth quarter with those picks. “Dab” on that.

The Panthers lost. What a shock. They played terribly in all three facets of the game and were manhandled by Sam Bradford. Yikes.

Ironically, one of the few things I could take solace in was watching Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. drop a couple of passes. I felt the pain. Ohio State fans haven’t forgiven him for injuring his ankle after returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown in the 2007 BCS National Championship game. #NothingWasTheSame

Amidst all of the evidence to the contrary, I was actually enjoying myself even though the game itself was utterly boring. It wasn’t until I went to buy a bottle of water in the third quarter when things took a very unexpected turn. Upon receiving my water, I noticed the bottle cap was missing. When I asked for one, the woman at the cash register told me, “It’s against policy. The NFL considers bottle caps to be a weapon. Strange, right?”

Strange? It’s absurd! I’ve only walked this Earth for 22 years, but I’ve messed with enough bottle caps in my day to make the substantiated claim that there is absolutely no way a bottle cap can be used as a weapon. And if there is, I refuse to acknowledge its merits. Regardless, that’s the moment it was confirmed  —  the NFL really is the No Fun League.

So now ask yourself the question: would you rather pay a ridiculous amount of money to drink Bud Light Lime and watch average football in the 90-degree heat with a bunch of drunk, middle-aged men, or pay $18.99 for a 30-rack of Natural Light with your buddies and chill in the A/C while you enjoy some average football?

Think on it and get back to me.

P.S. I lied. Technically, it was my second NFL game, but when you have the unfortunate luck of watching Colt McCoy and Mark Sanchez do battle, it’s best you don’t count it against yourself.


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