NFL turns this siesta of a game into a fiesta

first_img They represent a school called Escuela Superior de Educacion Fisica and are indeed champions of an arena league. And the name? AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “We were all thinking about what our name should be,” said Antonio Chavez, one of the players. “We got a little loco.” Porno Stars or not, Sunday was a crazy night all around as the NFL ventured outside the United States for the first time in its 86-year history. It will be recorded as a 31-14 victory for the Arizona Cardinals over the San Francisco 49ers, but a game that might have induced a siesta in Phoenix was turned into a 3-hour fiesta by the NFL-record crowd of 103,467. It was a night where the only thing that looked familiar was on the field. Instead of hot dogs and hamburgers, vendors sold tacos (five for $3, your choice of mystery meat) and cups of noodle soup topped with lime. Extra points were celebrated as loudly as touchdowns and the biggest cheer of the night went with the news that Mexico had defeated Brazil to win the Under-17 world soccer championship. Soon the stadium rang with the traditional soccer chant “Mex-i-co, Mex-i-co” and then into “Ole, ole, ole, ole.” “That was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had,” Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “I hadn’t had that feeling since college (at Auburn) when we’d come running out of the tunnel in front of 86,000-90,000 people. It took me back.” The 49ers, thanks to their five Super Bowl championships in the ’80s and ’90s, are among Mexico’s most popular teams. It showed in the number of red San Francisco jerseys that dotted the crowd. Many just wore jerseys of their favorite players – Aikman, Roethlisberger, McGahee, Palmer, or McNabb – or college teams in Mexico. Cardinals jerseys were hard to come by, unless it was the No. 69 of Rolando Cantu – the Mexican tackle on their practice squad – or injured quarterback Kurt Warner. That didn’t stop the Cardinals from trying to win over the crowd. At a pregame news conference, Cardinals vice president Mike Bidwill held up a Mexico soccer jersey and, as the cameras clicked away, wished the national team luck. Then as the Cardinals ran onto the field for introductions, the crowd was electrified when safety Robert Griffith led the team out carrying the red, white and green Mexican flag on a staff. The overwhelming size of the steeply pitched stadium, which was nearly full an hour before kickoff – tailgating remains a uniquely American experience – and the haughty introductions in which the teams ran through inflatable helmets with the NFL logo and pyrotechnics provided a Super Bowl-like atmosphere. At least until the kickoff, which thanks to the 7,500-foot altitude – more than 2,000 feet higher than Denver – 49ers kicker Joe Nedney booted the ball through the uprights. Then the Cardinals and 49ers looked like teams that had one win between them. On the first play, Cardinals quarterback Josh McCown fumbled when he was sacked by Andre Carter and Bryant Young. Linebacker Brandon Moore picked the ball up and just as he got to the goal line, fumbled into the end zone. Fellow linebacker Derek Smith fell on it for a touchdown. The 49ers’ other touchdown also came courtesy of the defense, when Travis Hall stripped Cardinals running back Marcel Shipp of the ball and cornerback Derrick Johnson scooped it up and sprinted 78 yards for a touchdown. Those fumbles were two of the game’s seven turnovers. The Cardinals managed their first offensive touchdowns since the season opener – the two McCown touchdown passes doubled their season total – but in perhaps a nod to the soccer-mad crowd, their offense consisted mainly of six field goals from Arizona kicker Neil Rackers. If the fans’ reactions were often unique – they booed when Rackers lined up for his field-goal attempts, then cheered when he made them – they at least seemed to understand the quality of quarterbacking they were witnessing. When 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay threw a pass at the feet of running back Terry Jackson, the crowd whistled. On the next series, they did the same when McCown launched a pass into the Cardinals’ bench. Two minutes into the second quarter, they began to do the wave. “Obviously,” Rattay said. “We played horrendous.” The product on the field notwithstanding, the NFL is ready to try this again. In the pregame news conference, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue gave the strongest indication yet that the NFL wants to play more games in places such as Europe, Japan, China and Canada, as well as Mexico again. There have already been discussions about having Tampa Bay, whose owner Malcolm Glazer bought English soccer club Manchester United, play in England next season. While some teams are expected to balk at giving up a home game – as the Cardinals did – Tagliabue said he will encourage owners at a meeting next week to make “an institutional commitment” to exporting the game, perhaps even twice a season. “The key is to let them know in advance and make it an institutional obligation,” Tagliabue said, calling these games a precursor to foreign franchises. It might be many years before that happens, but this was a night that, with all the excitement and pageantry, both the NFL and Mexico could celebrate. Vive la difference. Viva Mexico. Billy Witz covers the NFL for the Daily News. He can be reached at (818) 713-3621 or [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img MEXICO CITY – The first indication that this was no ordinary NFL game came when I walked through the gates at Estadio Azteca and suddenly realized I was surrounded by five real, live Porno Stars. These Porno Stars said they were the best – champions, in fact. There was no need to ask if they’d won the Lingerie Bowl, not the way they filled out their black and gold jerseys that read “Porno Stars” with a Playboy bunny logo just above the numbers. last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *