If you are reading this, you probably like football. That or you are a fan of actual aircraft ignition sequences. I am guessing those people are few and far between. I too like football, but it is not because I am what most call a football “fan”, I am a football freak. I fall asleep to SEC Network replays of Auburn vs. Georgia or Alabama vs. LSU. Why the SEC you ask? Because they are the only conference that has actual games worth watching over and over and over until you can literally recite the entire game blindfolded play for play…And they are the only one that lets you watch for free.
Why don’t I watch NFL Replay you ask? Because it costs money, and the NFL ownership group as a whole may be some of the most greedy, white glove jerks I have ever seen in my life. Next to Senators of course. Oh sure, they’ll come to training camp and dance around and have real cute conversations with various coaches and first round draft picks, but have you ever seen an owner flying coach at an airport? Or refinancing their house because of the impending lockout? Let’s not get sidetracked here, on to the beauty of the game:
I like finesse in sports and I like size, which are essentially the two ways football can be broken down. Peyton Manning and Julius Peppers: that’s a little size and finesse, Kris Jenkins has the size…Darrelle Revis has the finesse. So what is so intriguing about football? 22 people on the field, each relying on each other to make either a defensive stand or move the ball down the field. Why am I actually breaking this down? This is not football 101. Go to Wikipedia for that…
Football can suck you in, you start to analyze the basics…quarterback…running back…receivers….but then, as you look closer, it all opens up:
To compare to another sport, basketball only has 10 people on the court and people score left and right, anybody can put up points at some point in the season, not ANYBODY can score a touchdown. And no single player “scores” a touchdown. Football players are, for the most part, specialists, basketball players have offensive and defensive duties. You can’t change your basic lineup, going small or big like they can do in basketball. Danny Woodhead would not last 3 minutes on the Lakers. In football, if the defense struggles, the offense has to lift them up and vice versa. Football players are held to a smaller set of responsibilities yet you live and die by them. It is very hard to be the Knicks in football.
The intricacies of offense and defense in football are so vast that trying to analyze one pre snap formation with a team like the Jets could leave you scratching your head, especially when you have 4 or 5 guys switching POSITIONS (Kris Jenkins at linebacker!), audibles and counter-audibles, but that is what we call the “technical stuff.”
Football, for the literary amongst us, is 21st century theatre, Broadway sucks despite what Sanchez says, and football is as good of a narrative as any imaginable. With the amount of coverage given to football via ESPN, NFL Network and the Internet, it is dissected more minutely than postmodern novels. There are analysts who make statements and analysis of analysts statements which are the analysis of the players statements, it’s like an Italo Calvino novel. You are on a train. You are a character in a novel taking place on a tran, etc…
One of the overwhelming reasons I love football is because it is not built for the elite, models don’t go to football games, and if they do, they aren’t showing up in a miniskirt and heels. Unless you count those degenerates in suites and “coach’s clubs”. (As a sidenote, if Rex Ryan could handpick people for his coaches club, I doubt 15 people in badly tailored suits would be first on the list). People don’t show up 40 minutes after kickoff to a Giants game, unless they are talking their way out of an arrest or so drunk that they had to stop to puke every 15 feet from the shuttle to the entrance.
It unites the strange and the straight laced, it turns friends to enemies and enemies to friends, it creates debaters and theorists, dreamers and detractors:
Amongst the working class, there is not much to look forward to on a given week. Life, in general, is a series of mundane events highlighted by orgasms, credit card debt, and free shots of tequila. So to be part of something that you know millions of people are part of, to hear the screams from adjacent apartment buildings and to be walking by a bar downtown and hear the roar after a touchdown or an interception, is indescribable.
I would argue that most football people, if given the choice between a beach in LA or a sports bar in Manhattan during football season, would gladly stand for 6 hours nursing the same warm beer in a bar that smells like piss and desperation, and leave the beaches for out of work actors to “contemplate their life choices.”
Maybe we are spoiled in Manhattan to have both the Jets and the Giants…but don’t question the passion both teams create, and remember this, they’re rooting on Park Avenue and they’re rooting in Harlem. The stockbrokers have jerseys on and drug dealers have jerseys on.
We’re all a part of it, whether we are in a bar, at the stadium, or as I prefer to watch, on the rooftop of an East Village duplex, with beautiful women cooking Fillet Mignon and pouring unnecessarily strong mixed drinks, even in December.