Super Bowl Sunday taught me a lesson that had nothing to do with football

| Staff Writer

I had even thought ahead. Three hours before, I signed onto the Buffalo Wild Wings website in anticipation of an influx for the big game. I placed my order—ready at 6:10 p.m., it told me. That already being 40 minutes into the most anticipated night of the sports year, I had hoped to barrel down I-64, adopt a brisk walk into the restaurant, pick up my order and be back faster than a juiced-up Tyreek Hill chasing down the rogue ostrich that stole his chain. Alas, like the fickle football gods that pluck the heartstrings of poor football fans, especially those of Eagles fans like myself, life is cruel and cold, and the only thing I feel right now is the hollow pit in my stomach where medium heat buffalo wings and blue cheese should be.  

Creative Commons / powerplantop

6:05 p.m. —Arrival: I pull into the parking lot and stop my car in a 15-minute spot—my first mistaken assumption of the evening. The brittle winter wind hounds me as I hustle from my car to the refuge of the building, where I find no fewer than a dozen hungry patrons like me waiting for their orders. I don’t panic: This has happened before, and I almost always am out within a few minutes. More consolation comes in the excess of TVs lining the walls, where I can keep up with the game. I don’t have a dog in the fight, but watching Brady, the undisputed GOAT (as much as it pains me to say), go up against the NFL’s brightest young star in Patrick Mahomes is every football fan’s dream. Unless you’re a Patriots fan, in which case you probably feel an uncomfortable mix of nausea, nostalgia and extreme envy. ‘Even if I don’t make it back until the second quarter, I’ll have watched most of the first here,’ I think. After a few minutes, the attendant, disheveled and anxious, emerges from the back to inform us that they are behind, and that we should return to our cars in order to follow COVID guidelines—they will call us when our food is ready. I hate to abandon the gorgeous displays, but I trust that my faith in the establishment will not be marred on this special night. Inside, though, a crack begins to form. 

6:35 p.m. —Return to Brick and Mortar: half an hour and no call. TikTok and illegal Reddit streams of the game occupy my next 30 minutes before craving overcomes reason. My stomach leads me back to the scene, a wounded soldier listening to phantom pains, hoping for something that isn’t there. To no surprise, my order—under the pseudonym Steamboat Billy—is nowhere near completion. I choose to huddle myself among my kind: the frustrated Chiefs fans, the DoorDash drivers, the families, eyes fixed on the kitchen door with an uncanny mixture of ire and anguish. My only reprieve is the return of the screens, from which I can watch Brady’s Bucs execute a flawless drive ending in a second touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. Even as an Eagles fan, I’ve always admired Gronk. He has uncanny on-field awareness and steamrolls through defenses like no other tight end in history, but his personality makes me feel like he still believes in Santa. And much like the readiness of my order, Brady continues to defy time; he’s as sharp as ever.  

7:25 p.m. —Reality Sets In: It’s been over an hour, and the wings I’ve salivated over seem about as tangible as the holding calls against the Chiefs. I’ve spoken to the new attendant, equally battered, about my order to no avail. My friends wait at home, but their empty stomachs cannot compare to my utterly defeated soul. What should’ve been an timeless evening of food and football vanished in the smoke of wings not mine. Standing among the similarly damned patrons, I resign myself to writing this as a testimony of my trials. If I ever leave this wretched establishment, with or without these ephemeral morsels of poultry and sauce, I hope my plight serves as a warning: order ahead or face the consequences. Better yet, make your own food and stay home. The Halftime Show just ended, and at this rate, I hope to be back home by Week 1 in September.

Staff writer Grady Nance’s sports thoughts beyond the search for wings:

Sports moments that capture the spirit of 2020


On the unparalleled agony of watching your team slowly crumble



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