After a long and boring offseason, the 2017 NFL season finally begins this weekend. The first game of the year, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, kicked off on Thursday night. UNCG students, clad in their favorite jerseys and gear, gathered in droves at their favorite bars and restaurants to see the two teams square off. The night was cool and crisp. TVs blared and beer mugs clattered. Indeed, football was in the air.
The game may have been between the Patriots and the Chiefs, but that didn’t stop students from all fanbases from showing up to celebrate the inaugural game of the new campaign.
Caitlin Jenks, a senior majoring in psychology, caught the game with her friends at Shiners on Dolley Madison Rd. They all hooted and hollered at the TV as Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith tore apart the New England secondary. Jenks told The Carolinian that her favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys, as of last week. “My friend Hannah gave me a Cowboys shirt last week and inducted me into the Cowboys fan club.”
At the Old Town Draught House on Spring Garden, Blake Moyer, a graduate student in the Masters of Political Science program, and Tim Leisman, a graduate student also in the MPA program, chatted with their friends as they watched the game. “I’m a Steelers fan. I’m from about an hour north of Pittsburgh,” Moyer told The Carolinian. “I’m a Packers fan,” Leisman said. “Go, Pack, go!”
When asked about their Super Bowl predictions, the responses were varied. The season has just begun, with uncertainty hanging over many teams heads, so any predictions have a good chance of not being true. Jenks and Leisman both chose the Patriots to make it, but as Kansas City continued to dismantle the Patriots, those predictions were thrown for a loop. Moyer, however, was set on his prediction. “Well, I want it to be [the Steelers] of course. NFC wise… I’d have to go with either Seattle or the Giants.” For the record, no one that was interviewed picked the home state’s Carolina Panthers to be in the Super Bowl.
Besides the games, fans have much to be excited for the start of the new season. Fantasy football is always a big commodity, at this point as synonymous with fall as sweaters and the changing leaves. Leisman is a devoted player, talked about his fantasy team.
“I have to be honest, I’m excited for the start of fantasy football,” the grad student said. “That’s because it makes me feel more connected, and I can follow [the NFL] more closely than I normally would. It’s hard to watch football games when I have a lot of homework to do. With fantasy football, I just get the briefest update about everything I want to know and follow it more loosely.”
On the other hand, Jenks said she was looking forward to the social aspects of the beginning of football season. “I’m excited to do stuff like what we’re doing now: Watch the game here with my friends and have a good time. Plus, I’m just ready for some football, man.”
We all are, including Moyer. “The thing I’m most excited for is beating the Patriots,” he said with a grin, eyeing the score. The Patriots lost, 42-27. As the bars cleared out and students prepared for their Friday classes, one thing was very clear: the return of the football season means the return of this pastime that so many UNCG students love. Students who would be strangers in class gathered at establishments to cheer on their teams the best they could, whoever they may be. The end result is a sense of belonging that brings the already tightly-knit community we have at UNCG even closer together. Football season is back, and UNCG students are soaking in every second of it.