One thing I like about living in the Northeast is the change of seasons. You have baseball season, basketball season, tennis season and, if things get a little too quiet around the house, football season. I’ve already had “The Talk” with all the pets: Sunday afternoons are going to get a little difficult for the next 16 weeks, and if there is a lot of yelling and a wee bit of violence, it is not necessarily directed towards you.
Things have changed since I first became a football fan. There is currently a lot more concern for the physical well-being of the players than there used to be. This is possibly directly proportional to how much money a team has invested in them. In the old days, after a violent tackle a player was shown down on the ground with a pulse that you could barely waltz to, and the announcer would say that he was “shaken up,” as if he was a frozen margarita. It didn’t matter if the guy was dropping body parts like a ‘57 Chevy, they always said he was “shaken up.”
Now there are concussion protocols, a series of medical tests the player must pass before being allowed to continue in the event of a blow to the head. In the ‘70s sometimes a player got hit hard, and his helmet went flying 10 yards down the field. If his head was still in it, he was taken off the field in an embarrassing golf cart shaped like a football helmet. If not, he was asked what two plus two was. If he didn’t know, it was assumed that everything was normal and he was pointed back in the general direction of the huddle.
Another thing I never thought I’d see was a football game airing on Amazon. I remember the days when your cable might be on the fritz and you could go down to the appliance store and catch the game on 20 television sets. You could watch someone intercept a Giants pass 20 times, 40 if they showed a replay. This year on Amazon I saw the Packers beat the Bears 35 to 7. The game was so bad that afterward I immediately upgraded to Amazon Prime, hoping for something better the next week.
A phenomenon called Fantasy Football has people rooting for teams they would never care about if money were not involved. They pore over stats, records and probably court documents to prepare their line-ups. As far as I’m concerned, there is enough misery on my own team to last me for an entire week. And I may be a fantasy purist, but if I’m going to assemble a fantasy line-up, I doubt that any football players will be on it.
Something else I’m not used to is watching American football being played in other countries. I’m going to have to learn a whole new lexicon of curse words in foreign languages, which may actually come in handy on the subway. There was a game this year played in London, for example, and I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying.
In other ways, not much has changed. Last week the Chiefs defeated the Redskins, same as they did in 1467. Also, I still throw the same things at the TV as I watch the Giants game. I start with any food in the area, dinner rolls are optimal, and when I run out of those I might lob a rolled up newspaper or a Kleenex box.
And my dog still has to dodge out of the way. I believe that dogs are smarter than we think they are, and when my dog sees me throwing my slippers as hard as I can at the TV, I know what he’s thinking: “Humans are definitely not as smart as they think they are. Do they REALLY believe that you can run on first down EVERY SINGLE TIME with NO blocking?”
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