Yahoo News asked big-time fans of the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens to send in photos that show the wacky and fanatic side of sports fandom. Here's one.
I have many stories about being a die-hard, rabid, often emotional, and very loud fan of the San Francisco 49ers. I probably love my team too much. Their wins and their losses probably bring too much joy and pain to me. I probably experience more stress watching the 49ers play than any feelings of enjoyment. There is no "probably" about it; these things are all 100 percent true. Such is the way of loving something with all your heart. (This is me in the picture in case anyone is wondering.)
When I was a kid, I grew up with the 49ers and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. From my earliest memories, Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Jerry Rice, along with the rest of the 49ers team, were winning Super Bowls, and if they weren't in the Super Bowl, they were in the NFC Championship game, losing nail-bitters and heart-breakers to the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and the Washington Redskins. Losing was not something that the 49ers did often when I was a kid.
When I was young, back at their old practice facility, you could go watch the San Francisco 49ers practice, and players that seemed bigger than life, right through the cyclone fence. I got to watch Joe Montana and Jerry Rice practice! I never got close to those two, but some of the less famous, but no less important 49ers players would come up and talk to us through the fence. It was awesome.
Eventually, those days were gone and so were the days of the 49ers being a dominant team, but now, with the 49ers ruthless defense and the arrival of Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers are on a quest for six, and the time has come for the San Francisco 49ers to reign supreme again.
I think my favorite story of a 49er experience was when my grandpa ran into Joe Montana at a shoe store in Skyline, Calif. All my grandpa could think to say to Joe Montana in the parking lot was, "Hey, Joe... my name is Joe, too!" Nice going, old man. Needless to say, we didn't get an autograph, just an awkward smile and a shake of the head.
Times have changed and the big athletes are nowhere near as approachable as back then, but we had lots of championships. Perhaps this Sunday, we can get another Super Bowl championship and the humble and talented Kaepernick can lead us back to the promised land.