Seeing Red

Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I put on my Minnesota Vikings sweatshirt last night, popped a can of diet cream soda and settled-in on the couch in front of the TV to watch the Vikes finally put a can of wop-ass on the Green Bay Packers. Instead it was another case of Childress confusion as the head coach spent the entire evening staring at his play chart wondering how this game plan against the now Favre-less Packers could possibly end like all the others…in defeat for the 5th straight time.  
It just hurts too much to think about so I’ve turned my thoughts back to last Saturday when Linda and I had perhaps the best football experience of our lives.
Our daughter, Suzan is associate director of sponsored programs at the University of Nebraska (I’m still not entirely sure what that is but if someone applies for a research grant through the university, it’s her job to see if they meet all the necessary qualifications.) Daughter Suzan..the one to see if you need to a research grant or Husker tickets.
One of the perks of the position is access to a couple seats in Memorial Stadium for Nebraska Cornhusker football games and thanks to a co-worker whose tickets were available, she was able to score two more for mom and dad last Saturday.
We’ve not been to a big-time college game before and were excited to finally have the experience especially since our granddaughter, Allison, had been selected to be a member of the amazing Cornhusker Marching Band.
Suzan, her husband Joe, (more about him in a minute) Linda and I arrived an hour and a half before kick-off and still had to park six blocks away. As we, and thousands of others, were walking toward the stadium I couldn’t help but think about images from Communist China a few years back when everyone had to wear those gray pajama-like outfits. This was like that except everybody was dressed in red and in a good mood.Memorial Stadium. They call it the sea of red and actually did the "wave" during the game.
Much of Memorial Stadium, including our section, was built in the ’20’s when people were a lot smaller. We shelled out three dollars each to rent a padded seat that attaches to the bleachers but I could tell it was going to be a tight fit if there was going to be a butt sitting atop of every number painted on the benches. 
My son-in-law Joe doesn’t really need a seat assignment. He spends most of a Husker game, whether at home watching on TV or there in person, on his feet cheering or complaining at the top of his lungs.  He’s a wonderful husband and father but, like most native Nebraskans, Joe was born and raised an over-the-top Husker fan with all its rights, privileges and obligations that go with it, including the mandatory wearing of Nebraska red 12 months out of the year.  
I don’t know if anything prepares you for the site of 84 thousand people all gathered in one spot and all dressed in red. My first thought was it looks like the world’s largest supermarket display of vine ripened tomatoes. (And there were some nice looking tomatoes in the crowd too I’ll tell ya…but I digress.)
As fans arrived at our section and squeezed into their assigned areas, I couldn’t help but notice how many of them seemed to know one another. Then I thought, of course, most of them have had the same seats for years; probably inherited them from their parents and grandparents.Linda and me (center) with our "very close" new friends.
The game against San Jose State was close at the beginning but my biggest concern was trying to spot Allison out of the 290 members of the Pride of all Nebraska marching band at halftime. I caught a glimpse of her through the binoculars and couldn’t have been more proud if I had a grandson quarterbacking the team.Granddaughter Allison after musically inspiring and marching her new team to victory.
Before we knew it, the game was over. The Huskers won, 35 to 12. Linda and I had made some new friends through close association in the stands and had gotten caught up in the thrill of being part of the Go Big Red Machine.
Let’s see, they’re at home again next Saturday.
“Linda..do you have Suzan’s work number?”

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