ARLINGTON — Niners fans who live in Texas? Who grew up here? How could that be? Turns out it’s more common than you think.
A spin around the parking lots of the Cowboys’ massive AT&T Stadium before Sunday’s wild card matchup revealed a ton of 49er tailgaters, many Texas born and bred.
Andrew Sisneroz lives in Temple, TX, about two hours south of Waco, but that didn’t stop him from proudly flying San Francisco’s colors at one of the many tailgates, part of a group from El Paso calling themselves “Niner Empire.”
“I just hate the Cowboys,” said Sisneroz. “Arrogant! No class!”
This ire started as a youngster, after Dwight Clark made “The Catch” back in the 1981 NFC Championship Game.
“I used to be a Cowboys fan,” said Sisneroz, now 48. “I wanted to be (former Cowboy) Charlie Waters. But Joe Montana changed my whole mind. I wanted to follow a winner.”
Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark, Cowboys fans.
Alejandra Granados and her husband, Alejandro, are both from El Paso. But they are part of The Faithful, regardless.
“My husband was a Raider fan, and I brought him to the light side,” said Alejandra. Her husband was manning the grill at a major tailgate operation, wearing a bright red chef’s hat and an even brighter gold chain.
“I’m a Steve Young-era fan,” he said. “It’s an El Paso thing.”
Glendrick Pettigrew and his buddy DeMarcus Moody both live in Forth Worth area. That’s right next to the town of Frisco, where the Cowboys practice. Ironic, no?)
“For me, it was Super Bowl XXIV,” said Pettigrew, holding a “Niner Gang” towel in his hand. “Steve Young. Jerry Rice running all over. That’s what did it for me.”
Moody admitted it’s tough to be Red and Gold when your neighbors are true blue . But he’s not fazed.
“It’s commitment,” said Moody. “I’m a true fan. Enemy in the midst!”
Another one of their friends, wearing a Cowboys jersey, piped up with the quip of the day: “Now you’re an enemy of the state!”
Then there’s the curious case of Marissa and Jordan Gallegos from Albuquerque, NM. Married couple. Three kids. They drove over for the game and we’re tailgating together. Perfectly normal? Not exactly. She’s a Cowboys fan. And he roots for the Niners. I asked if that made for an uncomfortable relationship, and they both fell silent.
Marissa made things clear: “It may end with something taking a flight home, instead of driving home.”
And so it goes deep in the heart of Texas, where locals pray at Jerry’s Jones massive football stadium on Sundays, drive to Dallas on the Tom Landry Parkway and like to shout, “How ‘bout ‘dem Cowboys!”
For a vocal minority of Texans, though, it’s all about the Niners. How ‘bout dat?