Weekly Top 5: Football Observations from a Reluctant Bystander
I know the temperatures haven’t felt especially cool just yet, but this Sunday marks the official start of my favorite season - fall. I love when the humid breath of summer turns into the cooling sighs of fall, when the leaves change and then drop to the sidewalk, the satisfying crunch under my feet. I love Halloween decorations and hoodies and all the comfy things that return when the temperature drops.
But with fall comes football. Here’s the honest truth – I could not care less. I mean, I am not against football. It’s fine. As I said in a previous piece about minor league baseball, I find the camaraderie and loyalty sports bring about to be endearing. But for me personally, I don’t really get in to most sports like others do. (Besides hockey. I was born in Michigan so I have always been a hockey girl.) I understand writing this might make some people hate me, but please realize this is all in good fun! For this WTF, I wanted to recap the top five things I know about football at this point in my life.
1. It’s everywhere.
It’s pretty easy to tune out other sports. Not into basketball? NBD. Find baseball boring? So do a lot of other folks. But football? You can’t escape it! It’s on your television SUNDAY AND MONDAY – it takes off Tuesday and Wednesday – but returns THURSDAY, “pauses” FRIDAY for high school football (so it’s still technically going), and returns to your television on SATURDAY with college ball. It keeps this pace for FIVE MONTHS until the Super Bowl, which is currently played on the first Sunday in February. And not only is football all over your TV, it’s also the front section at Target with cute football gear, it’s in your office when people set up their fantasy teams (don’t even get me started on that) and it is an active part of people determining their social plans.
2. It can pull at the heartstrings.
In an effort to make people like me more engaged in the game, smart people out in the world have created documentaries like Last Chance U and Hard Knocks so that I, too, will have some skin in the game. Sure, how could I not fall in love with the good-hearted kid from middle America who works his ass off and makes it through every grueling practice, every cut from a coach, to come out victorious as one of the 53 players on the team? Of course I am going to tune in to see how he does this season, because I care about him as a person, not a player.
3. Special Teams must really be special.
Here’s the truth - I do not understand special teams. I’ve Googled it and talked to folks about it. I’m a relatively smart person. I have a college degree, I can pick up on a lot of things, but special teams is beyond me. Basically special teams are responsible for kicking the ball and receiving the ball. But WHY does this constitute a team special? Why isn’t offense special? They seem pretty special when they protect that precious quarterback. Why isn’t defense special? Aren’t they required for the very core of the game, which is to score points? Special teams seems like an unnecessary title.
4. I appreciate a nice uniform.
I can’t lie, I do like football uniforms. I’m not sure why, because if we break it down, there is nothing cool about a guy in skin-tight capri pants. But when paired with those big shoulder pads and helmet, they look like they are going into battle and there is something appealing to me about that for some reason. I like the fact that their outfits send a certain message. For example, the New Orleans Saints. Their black uniform with just a touch of white and gold tells me they are there to crush their opponent, whereas the Denver Broncos’ uniform of orange and blue tells me they want to go duck hunting. It’s just not apples to apples folks. (Side note: I ALWAYS want to know what University of Oregon Ducks are wearing, so good job Nike for making that team the Vogue magazine of televised football.)
5. Football players are big dudes and I don’t want to piss them off.
Once, many years ago, I met a former Titans player in the infield at Steeplechase and I told him many of the above thoughts. In response, he said nothing. Instead he took his giant hand, spread out his fingers, and placed it on top of my head. His hand encompassed almost my whole head and I was sure I might die in that very moment - but I didn’t! Also, I work out at the same gym as Eddie George. I would assume Eddie George has a gym in his crib, but he seems to like to work out at a regular gym and let me tell you – the dude is hard not to stare at. He is a workhorse and I admire and envy his strength and stamina - and I’m pretty sure he could snap me in half like a popsicle stick if he wanted to. So all of what I say is not to demean a player – they love a game and they are lucky enough to play it. They work their asses of to be top notch athletes, and I have the utmost respect for that. You know what they say - don’t hate the player, hate the game. Right boys?