When the NFL schedule came out in April I was very pleased to see that the Steelers would be playing on Halloween night because it would give me a great excuse to ignore all the typical Halloween bullshit. When I was a kid I used to like Halloween, but that was mostly because it was an opportunity to vandalize shit with impunity. Once I reached the age where I could be tried as an adult Halloween lost a lot of its appeal. Now it’s just another excuse to drink, which I support, of course, but I don’t want to have to dress up in a costume to do it. I hate costumes and that is why I was a little disappointed when Monday Night Football opened with a shot of Steelers fans decked out in ridiculous Halloween attire. It looked more like the Oakland Coliseum than Heinz Field, and that isn’t a good thing in my opinion. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think the Black Hole is vastly overrated in terms of places in the NFL where you don’t want to play. Honestly, if you were an opposing player or fan where would you feel more intimidated? A place like Cleveland or Philadelphia where you’re sitting next to some blue-collared simpleton who has been drinking heavily all day because he hates his life and is pissed because he just spent half of his disposable income this month on a ticket to watch his team get the shit kicked out of them or Oakland where you're next to some jerk who had the wherewithal to purchase a Darth Vader costume to wear to the game? I’m not trying to say that all Raiders fans are pushovers. In fact, I think that the crowds at the Oakland Coliseum suffer from the fact that most of the best Raiders fans are probably in prison or on the run from the law. The losers in the Black Hole notwithstanding, Raiders fans are some of the most bad-ass dudes you'll ever want to meet and under no circumstances should you fuck with them because there’s a good chance that they're in a motorcycle gang or under the influence of angel dust and therefore capable of demonstrating super-human strength.
The criticism that I have for the Black Hole in Oakland is also applicable for the Dawg Pound in Cleveland and the Hogettes in Washington. The thing that bothers me about these groups is that they seem more concerned about getting attention drawn to themselves than watching the game. The worst part is the assumption by the media that somehow these people care more about their team than the rest of the fans because they dress up like dogs or characters from Star Wars. I can tell you that the guy who is sitting in the back row of the stadium modestly displaying his loyalty with a tasteful jersey is just as happy when his team scores a touchdown as the guy with a pig's nose in a woman's dress.
The point I want to make is that NFL fans have a duty to keep opposing fans out of their stadium, but dressing up in elaborate costumes to look like professional wrestlers is not the way to do it. The way you get results is by establishing an atmosphere where, if things start heading south for the home team, there is a plausible risk that a fan of an opposing team will have a beer bottle smashed over his head or get the shit kicked out of him in the parking lot after the game. That’s the way it always has been and that is the way it should continue to be.