For the past three years Tammy has drafted Peyton Manning as her quarterback on at least one of her Fantasy Football teams. But this past Thursday night was the first time she was able to actually see him LIVE on a football field.
Old Friend in Town
I picked up Tammy around 2:45 on Thursday and we hit the road bound for Chicago. Our goal was to be at Soldier Field when the gates opened at 5:30 p.m., so Tammy could watch Peyton warm up.
Earlier in the day the friend Tammy made last year (here), ESPN’s own Stephania Bell, had mentioned on Twitter that she was going to be in town and was going to be at the Bears game.
I sent Stephania an email saying we’d love to meet her and let her know where we were going to be sitting for the game. She mentioned that she was working on a story for ESPN.com and that she’d try to find time for us to meet.
Tammy and I started thinking about how cool it’d be if we actually got to meet Stephania.
Me: I know you aren’t gonna bring your purse in, but you should bring your ID with you in case Stephania wants to go get drinks with us after the game.
Tammy: Yeah, we could go to the ESPN Zone.
Me: Yeah, that’d be sweet. We’d be rolling VIP in there with Stephania.
The ESPN Zone in Chicago closed a couple of years ago, but it sure would have been sweet.
As we were laughing about that I thought I’d see where Tammy’s friend, Stephania, ranks among some other ESPN personalities.
Me: Who would you rather meet, Stephania Bell or Greeny?(Mike Greenburg from ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning)
Tammy: (looking like she just smelled a nasty fart) Psssssh… You know the answer to that… Stephania. Why would I want to meet him?
Me: The only reason you’d want to meet him is to get pedicures…
Tammy: Or dance lessons. (Greeny lost a bet and had to dance on TV).
Me: Would you rather meet [Mike] Golic (Greeny’s partner on the radio) or Stephania?
Me: Yeah, me too. But I think it’d depend on what we were getting to do. If it was just meeting them for a few minutes, then Stephania. But if it was watching a football game or hanging out at a bar then I’d prolly say Golic.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’d enjoy watching a game with Stephania. But she’s a physical therapist and I think she’s be talking about all kinds of scientific stuff. Golic, on the other hand, played in the NFL and once competed in a chicken wing eating contest and, well, I like chicken wings.
Like the Man(ning), Not the Team
The conversation then drifted to Peyton, the Denver Broncos and the shirt Tammy was wearing.
Tammy: I wish I could put tape over the name and logo.
Tammy: Because I don’t know if I like the Broncos yet. I feel bad because [Tim] Tebow left. I just don’t know if the [New York] Jets was the best place for him, so I have to wait and see if I will “like” them yet.
Me: What can they [Broncos] do to make you like them?
Tammy: I gotta make sure they are gonna take care of Peyton. That’s how I’ll know.
Me: How are you gonna know that?
Tammy: (annoyed) If they let him get hit or not!
Me: Well, that’s not the Broncos fault.
Tammy: Well yeah it is. It’s there defense…
Tammy: Or their offensive line.
We parked just before it started raining and waited it out in the car before walking to the stadium.
We were waiting in line to get inside when we started talking about possibly getting to meet Stephania.
Me: How cool would it be if we actually get to meet her? I think she’d be the most famous person I’ve ever met.
Tammy: No she wouldn’t.
Me: What? Why?
Tammy: You met Mike Ditka.
Me: Oh yeah. Ditka trumps Stephania. Plus he gave me “The Grip” (fraternity handshake). (pause) I bet Stephania would prolly agree that he’s more famous than she is.
Looking for Her Man
We found out seats once we made it inside and Tammy pulled out the binoculars. She started scanning the field for any sight of Peyton.
When some of the Bears came out to start warming up she got excited, but soon realized that Peyton wasn’t anywhere to be found. We headed to the other side of the field to be near the entrance for the Broncos players.
We got to the other side and I started telling Tammy that I saw Peyton.
Me: Tammy, Tammy! There he is!! Two of them.
She got all excited and ran to see, but quickly got mad at me when she realized it was just two guys in Manning jerseys.
We continued to wait and watch the Broncos entrance. It wasn’t long before the group of photographers on the field started moving and we knew what that meant, Peyton was about to take the field.
Tears of a Clown
The fans who had gathered by the entrance roared when Peyton took the field and Tammy did too. She did something else that I don’t think the other fans did.
She tried to hide it from me by turning and heading back to our seats, but I caught a glimpse of her wiping her eyes.
Me: Are you crying?
Tammy: Shut up. It was just a little.
We made it back to our seats which just happened to be on the end of the field where the Broncos were stretching.
She kept the binoculars on him the entire time the team warmed up.
In fact, she kept them pressed so hard to her face that she had marks under her eyes when she came back to sit.
It’s a Little Chili Out
When the teams went back into the locker room we head out to find food. We settled on a chicken Philly sandwich and chili cheese fries.
The sandwich was very salty, but it was good. The chili cheese fries left a little something to be desired.
The fries and cheese parts were fine, but the chili… We couldn’t really figure out why it was called chili because there wasn’t one bean or piece of meat in it. It looked like liquid dog food had been slathered on top of the cheese.
Considering we paid $6.50 for it I couldn’t bear to let it go to waste and made sure the container was empty.
I guess Meatloaf was right, two out of three ain’t bad.
The Annoying Family
Not long after the game started a family of five came down and sat two rows in front of us. I knew we wouldn’t like them when the husband didn’t even bother to wipe the seats for his wife and two daughters, but it took Tammy a little longer to dislike them.
It wasn’t the fact that none of them came dressed appropriately for the game (short-sleeve shirts, shorts, sandals, etc.) or that the parents downed 4-5 beers each in the time they got there through the start of the 3rd quarter. It wasn’t even that the Mom went to get drinks for the family and was gone for nearly 20 minutes.
What pushed Tammy over the limit was when one of the daughters tripped, possibly from an intentionally placed foot by the little brother, fell into the Mom’s empty chair and started crying.
The fall itself wasn’t that bad but she acted like she fell down a flight of stairs. The Dad consoled her for nearly 10 minutes before she got up and headed up the stairs.
Tammy: I knew I hated them.
Of course it could have been that the fall itself wasn’t painful and instead she was crying because of what I yelled when I saw her fall.
Me: Cut her off!! (she had been drinking a beer earlier)
We’ll never know.
A little after halftime I saw that I had gotten a voice mail but neither of us could understand what the person was saying.
Since I had given our phone numbers to Stephania, I started
wondering thinking if she had called us, but Tammy had a different idea.
Tammy: Maybe it was Stephania having Peyton call.
Tammy: (after a few seconds of silence) No… It couldn’t have been him. He was still on the field.
Me: No sh!t Sherlock.
I had been checking my email and Twitter throughout the game to see if Stephania had written me to set up a time to meet and started thinking SHE had indeed called.
I told Tammy I was going to email Stephania to see if it was her but she kept telling me NOT to do that.
Tammy: It’s gonna look like you’re crazy if you send her an email asking if she called.
Me: I know, you’re right.
I KNEW it would make me look crazy, but it didn’t stop me from sending her an email anyway.
She wrote back saying she hadn’t called, that she was getting ready to leave and invited us to an ESPN event she was speaking at on Saturday.
While we were disappointed in not getting to meet Stephania, we still think it’s pretty cool that she knows who we are and that we make her laugh. Hopefully we’ll get to meet her someday.
Off the Field But Not Out of Sight
The actual game was pretty boring as Peyton only played one series. He finished the game completing 4 of 7 passes for 44 yards and an interception.
He spent the rest of the game on the sidelines talking with teammates.
Just because he wasn’t in the game didn’t mean he was safe from Tammy’s gaze.
Toward the end of the game we walked to the other side of the stadium so Tammy could be a little closer to and get a “better” view of Peyton.
As the game clock started winding down, we made our way back to the Broncos team tunnel. Once the game was over Tammy, along with several other people, made their way down to the edge of the stands.
Tammy, being all of 5-foot tall, struggled to find a spot where she could see, but she managed to get close enough to watch the players come off the field.
When Peyton started making his way to the tunnel the crowd got started clamoring and I could see Tammy getting excited.
Even after Peyton went into the tunnel Tammy kept looking, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
Once she was sure he wasn’t coming back out of the tunnel we headed back to the car. Surprisingly she didn’t even shed any tears this time.
We made it back to the parking lot, got in the car and started the drive back home. We were barely out of Chicago when Tammy fell asleep. No doubt dreaming of her Man(ning).
Great story ! I’m glad Tammy got to meet her Man !
I’m really bummed you didn’t get to hang out with Stephania!
Yeah, we were bummed too. Tammy thinks I scared her away by sending her the email about the voice mail. I just think she was scared to meet Tammy.
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