By now, most of NFL fans know of the enormous female following that the sport has. Which is why we at GuysGirl reached out via various social networks to recognize the real female fans that are tailgating in the elements, attending the games and rooting their team on in good times and bad.
Females all across the country have shared their stories on how they became a NFL fan, what their favorite moments have been watching their team and even if they could ever date a guy who wasn’t a football fan.
This particular story is truly touching as Mingjian Chen credits football for saving her life after she was sexually assaulted. The closeness the game brought her through the years ultimately helped her see how precious her life really is.
Hit the title/read more to check out the inspirational female fan who represents the Indianapolis Colts…
Website: It’s not my website, but I have contributed to Nate’s amazing 18to88.com
–How long have you been a NFL fan? Where did your passion start?
I’m a new fan, and have a pretty long, rambling account of how I came to love football:
How I came to be an NFL fan is a bit bizarre. Someone once noted that nearly every city I’ve lived in has a storied and great football franchise – not that this left any impression on me for many years. See, I was born shortly after the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis – but in China.
As you might be aware, the NFL was not huge there (still isn’t, to be fair). I did move to Pittsburgh at a fairly young age (or I suppose more accurately, my father moved our family), then moved to Indy (and left just before Manning was drafted), and afterwards we moved to Boston, yet I didn’t even know the term “NFL” until late in high school. Once during a family vacation shortly after we moved to Boston when I was in the 8th grade, we were on a family vacation. We got to the hotel late and started flipping through the channels. We saw a football game on, and I distinctly remember my dad and I trying to figure out what the chaos on the screen was. Our only impression was oversized men running into each other in utter disorder.
Apparently this was something called “football”. We rolled our eyes and thought, Americans. Only they would prefer nonsense as wild and pointless as this or as boring as baseball to the beautiful fluidity of soccer. At least they got basketball right. That would be my opinion of football for years to come.
It wasn’t until I started dating my high school boyfriend just before 10th grade started that someone began to try to convince me otherwise – I went to an exam school and most of my friends were Asian girls who had grown up with families who gave them just one goal in life (get into an Ivy League). My high school boyfriend, however, was an American guy who was born and raised in Brookline, MA and was a die-hard (wait for it…) Patriots fan. He convinced me to watch the Super Bowl with him and after nearly 2 years of dating, when his family invited mine over for Thanksgiving, his family had ours join in their tradition of Thanksgiving dinner and football.
He, however, wasn’t a very good explainer, and couldn’t really explain to me the intricacies well enough to dispel my stubbornly held disparaging views of football as everything outsiders – particularly many Chinese – despise about Americans: overweight, bumbling, ridiculous displays of brute force and ugly violence.
The next person I dated seriously was from Wyoming and had spent many years in Denver and loved the Broncos (mostly Elway). Again, he tried to explain to me how much strategy was in football, and again, I rolled my eyes. But you know what they say: third time’s the charm. I met a die-hard Packers fan in college who literally could not stop talking about football during football season. And he took me on as a challenge. He talked my ears off about football for a couple years in a row – but with one big difference. He was excellent at explaining the basic rules.
Finally, after watching a few playoff games at his adamant behest and as he patiently explained what was going on in the various plays, I could see that, as the saying goes, there really was a method to the madness.
What finally sealed the deal, oddly enough, occurred after I graduated college and moved to DC. One of my roommates was an Indian (the kind from India) who spent many years in Philadelphia and became a rabid Eagles fan, bonding with the guys who waited at the Laundromat waiting for their laundry.
Just before the football season got underway, I had an extremely painful, acrimonious end to a relationship with possibly one of the lowest excuses for a male I’ve ever met. My roommate and a few other guy friends took me with them to local sports bars to get me out of the house on Sundays. Prior to that, I typically only watched during the post season. That would be the year I began watching the regular season.
Naturally, my team of choice was the Colts. It had been years since I lived in Indiana, but I had stuck with the Pacers – I’m obsessively loyal. Until Reggie Miller retired in that heartbreaking final season, I still watched only them. School was busy and I rarely could follow them during the regular season or sometimes even the postseason, but I never rooted for another team. The natural choice then for a football team was Indiana’s team, the Colts. It helped that my Packers friend loved Peyton and hated the Patsies.
And so it happened, that someone who spent 10 years of her life in Boston, became a rabid Colts fan. And I will never forget that in those cold winter months post-breakup where sometimes the heartbreak and anger and horror got to be so unbearable at times I never knew when I would fall apart in tears, I always knew, Sunday – Sunday I would be ok. Sunday, my mind would be fully occupied by something else (and eventually Mondays, and towards the end of the season Thursdays and Saturdays!).
–How do you watch your favorite team?
Being in New York means my only way of watching my beloved Colts is at a sports bar (my preferred choice), on TV at home if it’s nationally televised and I’m too tired to go out to a bar. I do try to go to games at least once or twice a year – flights to Indy are cheap, thank god. If they play at Gillette, it’s also a good choice since I get free lodging with my parents. And the trashtalk is fun.
–What is your favorite thing about football season?
The football. The most fascinating, engaging game ever. I also love reading Nate’s amazing articles, the game day threads with our AFC pals at Battle Red Blog, Coltzilla, and 18to88. Full of hilarity and a wonderful sense of community.
–What team do you hate the most?
Patsies, aka Bieberettes. No question.
–Would you ever date someone who wasn’t a NFL fan? What if they were an avid fan of your most hated rival?
I’d rather they were an avid fan of my hated rival. Trash-talking is fun, plus, at least it meant they had an interest in watching football at all. I’ve dated guys who weren’t really into football, and it was hard because something that matters so desperately to me was something they didn’t get at all.
–What is your fondest memory about your favorite team?
Tied: tied between the first time I stepped into Lucas Oil Stadium, surrounded by a sea of blue, experienced first hand the screaming, shouting, everyone in Colts jersey – and really being there, AT COLTS NATION, live.
There was a woman who came in shortly before kickoff in a bridal gown with her (I assume) new husband and they were scrambling into seats. And I thought – that’s amazing, to decide on your wedding day that a wedding was still no reason to miss the home opener.
Other one: my first game at Gillette Stadium. I got there right as the gates opened. We had field level tickets (11 rows back) so I got right up to the edge of the field, snapping pictures like crazy. The Colts were warming up on our end, and of course when Peyton came out, I was screaming like crazy. He was standing in the end zone at one point, chatting with a few coaches and Reggie, just a couple of feet away. Of course me – and even the Patsies fans – were calling out to him.
Ok, I was screaming at the top of my lungs like a maniac proclaiming my undying love and all other kinds of embarrassing things, I’m sure. But Peyton turned around, looked at us, and waved. I died and went to heaven.
–What is the greatest moment as a fan that you have ever experienced?
This past December, about a week before Christmas, I was sexually assaulted by my former roommate. I went into shock and I guess pretty much lost it. I felt such a terrifying sense of shame and confusion and despair, and I ended up leaving the country without telling anyone.
I fully intended to take my own life, and I thought at least, I wanted see my favorite place I’ve visited so far and to die there – which happened to be the beaches in Sydney, Australia. I booked a flight for the very next day at 7AM. I went to the apartment, packed everything, and fled before my roommate could get home, got to the airport at 3AM. I got to Vancouver in the afternoon. There was a 14 hour layover before the flight to Sydney. The filght to Sydney was about another 17 hours or so.
When I got there, I was exhausted, and I was in utter shambles. Those 30+ hours were by far the loneliest I have ever been in my life, and as an only child with two parents who had a lot of issues of their own, I have known some pretty desperately lonely times as a child.
I did not really speak to a single human being in all those hours, except to order food at a restaurant or the like. I did not turn on my phone. I did not check my e-mail. I was already utterly traumatized and the whole time trying to come to terms with what I was about to do.
Going to a foreign place where no one really knew me to die. I thought of my Packers friend – the one that really brought me to football. He had lost his mother to cancer just a few months back. I wondered if I were really brave enough to do this to him.
I arrived in Australia on football Sunday. My hotel in Sydney was pretty nice and actually was showing football. Unfortunately, they were showing the Giants game and some other game – NOT the Colts game.
But I was able to find a stream of it on-line and watch it. I hopped on the game day thread at 18to88, and for the first time since I got in the taxi at around 2AM, I felt normal. I felt human. I laughed, I cheered, they beat the Jags (sorry), I raged with everyone else at the awful reffing and the terrible unsportsmanlike conduct of the fake fair catch, oh wait actually I’m going to run it back for a touchdown after faking out everyone.
And then I cried, because I thought, did I really have it in me to not see the Colts survive everything that was thrown at them last season and yet still make it in the playoffs? Did I really have it in me to not see Indy hosting the Super Bowl?
I called my Packers friend shortly after. We just chatted about football – I wasn’t ready to tell anyone what happened, and I knew that he of all people would let me talk about what I chose and not pressure me to talk about what caused me to vanish without a word.
All my other friends found out through, appropriately enough, 18to88′s game day thread – they had been checking for signs of internet activity from me and knew that I frequented 18to88, and were incredibly relieved to have evidence I was alive.
Obviously, I did not go through with suicide. In the end, my friends were the biggest reason I did not give into the despair and shame.
But that moment at the end of those flights and that awful layover with just silence and my own dark thoughts hammering away at me, that football game – watching the Colts answer all their doubters and detractors and will their way to a victory with their season on the line – the Colts community there with me, sharing all the highs and lows of that game with me at that moment, when I felt about as depleted and confused as I ever have – there really is no way I can thank them, or express how very much it did for me, or meant to me.
How much they gave me a feeling of a home when I was in a foreign country on the other side of the world thinking about how I could not see a place for myself in this world.
I’m not sure that I ever will have another moment that quite crystallizes for me how important sports, and the community it offers, can be.
A very HUGE thanks to Megjian. It takes a lot of courage to share a story so openly and really proves how important sports are in our world. No matter the gender.
Are you a female that’s a diehard NFL fan and want to be added to your favorite team?
Since so many responses were initially received for this request, we really feel it’s important to share everyone’s story in their own team specific post. This will be an ongoing and constantly updated series to recognize female NFL fans all across the world.
So if you are interested in representing your team, email us here and we would be happy to feature you and your fan experiences!