Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

Bag PolicyI'm going to try and do this without using any choice 4-letter words or say anything that I might regret later, but I'm angry.  I'm angry at Detroit, angry at the NFL, and angry at all of the bad apples that have driven us to this point.  I tend to travel light, so the NFL's new bag policy--excuse me, no bag policy is mostly of no concern to me.  However, I do sympathize with the demographic it affects most, women.

I don't know if the spirit of this new policy is to keep women out of the stadium, which seems to lack tact and decency, but that's certainly how it's been perceived in my circles.  Long story short, I've been informed that my better half will not be attending any NFL games in the future.  There's a disclaimer to all of this, which is to say that we aren't exactly season ticket holders, having been to about seven games in the last seven years, but that one game per year is a thing of the past.  While I don't think that you should be able to smuggle in an entire bar or weapons, the venues that don't implement ridiculous policy have taken less extreme measures to prevent the women from bringing in what's considered contra-band.  They check, and the 3-second inspection has proven affective, as far I know.

Now, the option is to limit women to only clutch purses and clear plastic bags, which the NFL will gladly sell you for the low, low price of $5.  Even if the ladies were willing to pay five clams for a 9 cent freezer bag, it somewhat defeats the purpose.  They have personal things that the world doesn't need to say, namely their Aunt Flo readiness devices.  They don't want to show it, and I don't want to see it.  I'm about the farthest thing from an expert on ladies handbags and other such accessories, but I'd be willing to bet my cleanest Indians hat on the fact that transparent purses are not the top-selling item in that industry.  It was a good thing for us that we were attending a Tigers game in Detroit, and not a Lions game.  Otherwise, we'd have been subjected to this idiotic restriction.

First of all, let me say that I went to Detroit with an open mind.  We were there to cross off yet another ballpark on our quest to see all 30, which we'll get to in due time.  I wasn't going to let Robocop, 8 Mile, real news footage, or even the whole Ohio State-Michigan thing give me any preconceived notions about the place.  Detroit and Michigan are in the United States, even if the reputation has painted this place in the same light as Beirut, which is in Lebanon.  I'm rooting for economic recovery in Cleveland, so why wouldn't I want it for Detroit, even if I've been heard singing a song that suggests I don't give a damn for the whole state, because I'm from Ohio.

Now, just because I kept an open mind, it didn't mean that I wasn't proceeding with caution.  When I bought tickets for this particular Twins v Tigers matinee game at Comerica Park, it was no coincidence that my plan was to get in and out of the Motor City during the daylight hours.  Also, when Ticketmaster suggested a parking pass, and not a cheap one, not knowing the lay of the land, I thought it was a good idea.  Now, I don't make the kind of cheddar that gives me the flexibility to throw $25 at something as menial as parking, but that's who I had to be on this particular day.

The lot, Lot #4 was at Ford Field, which is directly adjacent to Comerica Park, home of the Tigers.  If you're new to the program, Ford Field is home to the NFL's Detroit Lions, who happened to be playing a pre-season game against the Patriots that night.  This worked out for us on a personal level, because we have an old friend in Detroit that was attending this pre-season game, and the timing set us up perfectly to meet up for dinner in Detroit's Greektown, which was a nice experience.  When we pulled into the lot, just minutes before Justin Verlander's first pitch, the attendant asked if we were staying for the Lions game.  

Since exhibition football was not on our itinerary, she told me that "they", whoever "they" are, asked that we be out of the lot an hour after the Tigers game was over.  Now, I wasn't going to sweat this down to the minute, but I understood they had another event and needed places to put cars.  So, we caught nine innings of baseball at a nice park, where everyone we encountered was very nice, then made the ten minute walk down Brush Street to Pizzapapalis in Greektown.  As a side note, I'm going to tell you, having been to Chicago and their big 3 deep dish establishments, this Chicago-style place was the goods.  We got to watch baseball, eat some good grub, and catch up with an old friend, who picked up the tab.  It was shaping up to be a near-perfect day, one that left us with the notion that this Detroit place isn't so bad.

Not knowing the streets of Detroit very well, I utilized a navigation tactic that rarely failed me in the military, going back the way we came.  The car was on the north side of Ford Field, at the corner of Brush Street and Montlawn Street.  It was when we hit the roadblock at Beaulien and Madison that we began to hit obstacles that put a hinderance on my plans to get out of Detroit before sun-down.  The road was blocked off for good reason; there was an NFL game, one that we weren't attending, and this appeared to be an access road reserved for folks with credentials that we did not possess.  That was completely fair, and besides, we needed to go a block west to Brush Street in order to go back the way we came.  

However, gameday staff at that roadblock made sure to point out to my wife that she would not be able to bring here Diamondbacks tote into the game.  That really meant very little to us, since we had no intention of attending this practice game.  We heard this sentiment about 5 or 6 times, as we walked down Madison towards Brush.  Then, we heard it several more times on Brush Street, which runs between Comerica Park and Ford Field.  This is where things get ugly.

All we wanted to do was walk down a public street, get in our car, and get out of Detroit, thus freeing up a parking space in the lot that was now charging $40 to park for the Lions game.  We were very understanding about being told every seven seconds that my wife's tote would not be permitted at Ford Field; that's just people doing their job, in all honesty.  The last rent-a-cop, and I call him that out of spite, we encountered was not so nice, going as far as to put his hands on my wife and not giving allowing us to walk to our car.

DetroitMapIn our walk from Greektown, our friend was really talking up Detroit.  He admitted that a lot of it looks like Baghdad, even downtown, when there are no games, but the Lions and Tigers bring in people from the suburbs, which really brighten up the city.  There was no arguing either part of that point, you could tell that the gameday atmosphere really brought things to life in this struggling metropolitan area.  They went from really selling their city to us, to being ashamed of the people in it.  I even tried to calmly explain that we went to the Tigers game, parked in Lot #4, which was 300 yards in front of us, and that we positively not trying to smuggle anything into Ford Field.  He could have, and should have, let us through, but he chose Option B, being an asshole.  Under those circumstances, it was time to resort to hitting below the belt.

"No wonder your city is bankrupt!".  Appropriate?  No.  Remorseful that it was said?  Absolutely not.

After our encounter with King Rent-A-Cop, and we knew he was the leader because his name tag was pinned on to a suit, instead of a golf shirt like his cronies, we were forced to make a Lord of the Rings-length journey back to Lot #4.  So, venture we did.  East on Madison, north on Saint Antoine, and finally back west on East Montcalm Street to our car on the corner of Brush and Montcalm.  Remarks about the rules with the purse were not so well-received as we walked the perimeter of the stadium.

"I'm not going to your f#$%ing game!"

...and she never will, never again.  Thanks NFL, thanks Detroit.