Different Year ... Same Result.

What ordinary weekends are unable to do, NFL playoff weekends somehow achieve. All, if not most, of the friends and family I'm sparingly able to coordinate visits with, suddenly make time to watch the NFL playoffs by my side.

In my case, all such colleagues are a band of one-time heathens, degenerate delinquents; a crowd that evokes images of barroom brawls, multiple arrests, irreverent misdemeanors, and a wake of confused bystanders.

Even more pertinent are the images of multiple ill-advised and idiotic fights on Seahawks game days, escorted exits out of three different stadiums, or the still painful revocation of season tickets.

Separately, all of us have moved on from a life of stupidity and tormenting others around us. But as a collective, it’s easy to relapse into what marriage and/or years have cured us of. And, collectively, all of us began plotting our invasion of Qwest Field to witness the mighty Seattle Seahawks battle the hated Dallas Cowboys.

After the numerous discussions, spousal negotiations, and ticket finagling were complete a total of six of us were ready that Sunday morning.

There was the proprietor of four of the six tickets, Barb. A late thirty-something woman whose calm demeanor, appeasing looks, and innocent tone automatically set her apart from the group. Although, her distance from us culturally isn’t as vast as her outward appearance would let on. She has an ability to laugh at all of our tomfoolery, not taking herself too seriously to appreciate it.

My longtime best friend, dating to my days in elementary, Chris, had made the trip up from Vegas to attend the game with all of us. While, now, he’s somewhat of a functional and civilized “weekend warrior”, in a prior life he was notorious for being the brutish, crazy, tough guy every male knows and has in their lives.

All you need to know about him is the following: in our beginning phases of legal nightlife perusing, he once kicked a man in the posterior simply because one of us had mentioned, “he dances like he needs a kick in the @ss”. Or there was the time he spin-kicked a drink out of a stranger’s hand, for no other reason than wondering if he were agile enough. Or…never mind…you get the picture.

Every family has (well my family has tons) that one member that elevates him or herself above the rest - the uncle, nephew, aunt, etc. that early on in life had more than just the occasional run-in with the authorities. The type of blotter and actions that not only gets you a day or two in front of a judge, but a year or two in severe detention. And that’s exactly how my cousin Jason spent much of his late teenage years…in correctional “detention” facilities.

While now he’s a shining example of what actual reform can do for wayward youth, the scars of a few years of serving time is always just under the surface of his eyes.

My second oldest and only full brother, Skylar also agreed to accompany all of us to the contest. Skylar is very similar to me at his age, 23. His sarcastic, dry, bitter wit upon others is never ending and relentless. Skylar’s filter differs from mine, as it’s a bit harsher with more of a street and grimier perspective.

And, finally, there was the wild card in our whole equation…a man I had sold a seat to via the internet, specifically this very site. Matt, known as “MysterMatt” on the message boards never balked at the notion of sitting starboard my peripherals, or myself as his wild outlook is similar, yet more refined. His personality conveniently accented all of ours.

While all of us were past our years of causing trouble for troubles sake, the combination of us together is still enough to cause alarm. We had an extra ticket for the game, which we couldn’t off to our more traditional friends or even my wife.

“It sounds fun, but there’s no way I’m going to hang out for six hours with you lunatics. You’ll get into a fight”, my wife exclaimed. We ended up handing that extra club ticket off to a homeless man, in hopes he could sell it for food or beer money.

With a few hours of pre-funking securely down all of our hatches, we began our saunter towards the stadium. Once in the stadium, before heading to our seats, I performed my playoff tradition of relieving myself in a Qwest bathroom, at a urinal, with my pants around my ankles like a 5 year-old. After that hearty chuckle, we began our ascent to our bloody-nosed seats around 4:10 PM for a 5 PM kickoff.

Two of the six individuals were operating solely by their nervous systems at this point, due to zero sleep the night before. Those two also had tickets that were detached from the group, on the other side of the stadium. A $20 bill, some gentle persuasion, and a trade of said tickets, finally insured all of us would be sitting together.

From my standpoint, the crowd at Qwest seemed louder and more ruckus than any I had seen before. My senses were treated to random chants, inappropriate signs admonishing the odd Cowboys triplets (Romo, Parcells, and T.O.), and the fans took on the persona of psychotic waves of blue and neon-green.

Even before kick-off, individuals were shouting amongst themselves. They were sitting and jumping up from their seats repeatedly - and verbally undressing any Cowboy fan in the area that dared to walk up and down the steps to their assigned viewpoint. It was a beautifully chaotic mob, awaiting the “Game of the Year”. There’s nothing like such a scene in life.

Once kick-off had taken place, the Hawks scored their first field goal, and “Romo and Friends “ took the field, a character from behind us began making his presence known.

This goonish monstrosity of a man had designated himself as the resident cheerleader for our section. Based on the dismissive reaction of the others around, and the rolling of their eyes whenever his gimmick began, it was obvious this man had been there all year long. His screams were at incredible volumes…deafening almost. The shouts matched his large frame and “five o’ clock” shadow haircut and mug.

The screaming was, and always is, welcomed as everyone’s responsibility as a fan. But it was the manner and timing of this man’s screams that caused all of us to cringe. During time outs, in between changes of possessions, or sometimes even when the Seahawks had the ball, the man would implore us, in a threatening tone, with “Come on! Get up! Start Screaming! Right NOWWWWWW!” Like a roll of bubble-wrap in front of me, I couldn’t help but burst this guy’s bravado…if only slightly.

With every “Right NOWWWWWW!”. I’d sheepishly reply with, “right now?”

“Are you sure, right now…? I’m scared and the yelling hurts my ears.” I’d rebut every time he began his unanswered cheering commands. I’d drown out and trump his chants with “Remember JFK” or the comical crowd pleasers like “Fire Holmgren” after a successful play or a random “put in Kitna!”

Midway through the second quarter, the man had abandoned his shtick. He voice was worn and the luster gone from his antics, as everyone was now laughing at him. He remained quiet for the remainder of the game. However, he would eventually let his feelings about my party and I be known…eventually.

Shortly after the Cowboys answered the Hawks second-half long touchdown drive, with a kickoff return of their own, an argument between a patron in front of us, Matt, and my cousin ensued.

This man, who was somewhat similar in appearance and build to myself (which my friends like to point out, ad nauseam, with laughing shouts of …” DAVIS!”) began demanding that all of us stand up and cheer on the Seahawks next offensive series. Being that this breaks fan rule number one, “don’t cheer when your team has the ball”, many of us took exception.

“I love you brother, but you need to quit acting like a %^&t”, Matt told the guy. He responded with an authoritative, “I’m a season ticket holder; I’ve been here all year.” He wasn’t going to back down from his misguided idea of team support.

“Sit down, now!” - my cousin requested. The man, not knowing that of everyone in the stadium – including players – my cousin was most likely the last person you wanted to confront, continued defending his odd line in the sand.

My friend Chris and I tried to defuse the situation. “Come on man, let’s not go there”, I pleaded. My friend Chris would interject with, “who cares, let’s just enjoy the game”. I offered to buy the guy a beer. I tried to delicately explain that my cousin has somewhat of a past and in no way is the one to start quarrels with.

Eventually, I was able calm the situation with enough tact that the man in front was able to look like he “didn’t back down” in front of his girlfriend.

Then, a play or two later, the man in front of us made a mistake. Undoubtedly, the mistake stemmed from the alcohol and erroneous sense of pride within him. Despite the situation having already being dealt with, everyone being able to enjoy the game with their “machismo” intact, the man incited a riot.

He abruptly turned around and slapped the hat up off my cousin’s head. Not smart when you factor in the build of my cousin. But especially amateur when you consider the man was below all of us – he had zero leverage – leaving him outmatched regardless of the circumstances.

A millisecond after the hat flew off my cousin, he lunged toward the man, completely pressing him against the seats in front of him. With that, I began attempting to pull my cousin off the man. Then the defeated cheerleader behind us jumped down upon my cousin’s back, knocking me slightly askew.

I immediately began to shove and pry the man from behind - off of my cousin. At that point, I was decked two times from above (here's footage). I received a fist to the side of my head, and, when that knocked me parallel to the row seating, the man was able to connect with another shot to the top of my forehead.

Dazed and shocked, I did my best to defend myself but sucker-punches, even weak ones like I had received, always disorient for at least three to five seconds. I also wasn’t in any position to start swinging upon anyone, even in a self-defense situation. My status with the Seahawks and current status with Seattle-area police departments would warrant a visit to jail for myself.

My friend Chris was also in the same predicament, as his history of assaults in this state (all of which are some time ago) would guarantee some serious consideration for a correctional facility.

The scene was a miniaturized version of the bedlam we all know from the Pacers-Pistons brawl. All you could see were waves of heads, arguments, and jolted bodies. There were now up to twenty different individuals throwing hands upon each other, women yelling at significant others, and fans doing Matrix style stances to avoid falling items or torsos.

Once I was able to gather myself, realize that I couldn’t afford to have my name ran even by the Qwest Field staff, I immediately ran down the steps to distance myself from the situation, shedding the vintage BECU poncho on the way to avoid recognition. Furthermore, I had blood in my eye from an unknown party. Visions of communicable diseases and multiple clinical tests danced in my head.

After rinsing my eye for about 5-7 minutes, I called my brother to take inventory. He had told me that his nose was broken, so I assumed the blood was from him. He corrected me by explaining there was no bloodshed…only coffee he had thrown towards the man who had sucker punched both of us. The panic of HIV and/or hepatitis immediately lifted off of my shoulders. It was only coffee in my eye. I guess that explained the warmth.

Chris called to explain that everything seemed to have calmed down by this point, and it was okay to head back. Heading back towards our section, I saw my cousin and brother talking to the police. My brother immediately and non-saliently walked in my direction to tell me to turn around and keep walking for a few minutes as they had it handled.

A few minutes later I returned to my seat, noticing that only the rowdy cheerleader and his sucker-punching friend had been asked to leave the game. The man in front, who had incited the entire donnybrook, sat comforting his sobbing girlfriend or wife for the entirety of the game. The ironic thing was, what he had thought was worth fighting for – standing and cheering when the Seahawks had the ball – was now not an option. His job for the remainder of the game was to console his distraught female friend.

After all was done, none of us were any worse for the wear. I had some redness and slight swelling on my right cheek. My stomach was queasy and pained due to an unspent increase in adrenaline.

My brother’s nose was not broken. In fact, the punch that landed upon it seemingly corrected a prior septum issue and he explained, “I can breathe better than I have in years”.

During the rest of the game, I couldn’t help but wonder what it is ever going to take to avoid these situations in the future. All of us had done our part to try and quell the situation – yet, it still happened.

On the bus ride home, I noticed an individual sitting in the middle of the vehicle who looked identical to uber-pop star, Justin Timberlake.

I immediately began singing “I’m bringin’ sexy back...YEAH!” - “Those other bus riders don’t know how to act….YEAH!” We all laughed and thought it was hysterically funny. That is, all of us, except the person who happened to look like Timberlake.

He began mean-mugging the group, as if my singing and his similar looks to Timberlake were fighting words. That honestly wasn’t my intent; the last thing any of us wanted was another altercation. The situation defused itself, but it again got me wondering.

Even with my new attitude, maturity, and actions I get caught up in the same old nonsense.

Different year. Different attitude. Same results.

Ryan Davis is the Thirteenth Man. If you’d like to ask him to “step outside”, you may do so here.

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