When I was growing up, Football Sunday was a simple proposition. Its schedule followed a steady pulse without much variation aside from when the Giants played and whether they won or lost. I would wake up, do whatever non-hungover children do on Sunday mornings, then settle in for the Fox pre-game show at noon. I don’t know why I chose the Fox show over CBS or ESPN – they all sucked – but like clockwork my football Sunday would begin with the soothing voice of James Brown (mustachioed studio host) and end with the final whistle of the Sunday night game.
That is a full twelve-hour football day, and my parents were certainly a bit concerned with my unwavering commitment to total Sunday Football consumption (plus, of course, the Monday night game). But aside from those two blocks of time, totaling about fifteen hours, there wasn’t much else football-related going on that I could whore myself out to. I read the papers at breakfast, but no parent complains about their kid reading a newspaper. I listened to talk radio, and so did my dad.
This was a simple time when football was pretty much a once-a-week thing.
Now, holy fuck. Here’s what Football Sunday looks like:
Tuesday 12:00 A.M. – End of Monday Night Football. Last beer and/or cigarette is inhaled.
Tuesday 2:00 A.M. – Attempt to read a book and not think about football ends. Attempt to fall asleep and not think about football begins.
Tuesday 6:00 A.M. – Rise from bed in cold, nervous sweat. Flip open laptop. Check fantasy team to scout upcoming matchup and see if projections for next week are available. They never are. Not once, ever. Check for further analysis of previous Sunday’s Giants game. Nothing new since I last checked (Tuesday 2:00 A.M.). There never is.
Tuesday 12:00 P.M. – Fantasy projections are out! Put on thinking face and scour waiver wire. Maybe get back to work. Actual work.
Rest of Tuesday through Thursday 8:30 P.M. – Montage of compulsive and masochistic Giants analysis consumption, nervous fantasy lineup tinkering, pseudo-shit-talk or pseudo-commiseration with other fantasy league members in which each player is actually trying to mindfuck the other into making a lopsided trade. General listlessness during primetime television hours.
Thursday 8:30 P.M. – Thursday night game begins. Beer/cigarette inhalation and heart rate spike in direct proportion to fantasy player involvement.
Thursday 12:00 P.M. to Sunday 12:58 P.M. – Game ends. Next two and a half days spent in weekend blur.
Sunday 12:58 P.M. – Shit, last second fantasy adjustment due to lack of diligence during Thursday 12:00 P.M. to Sunday 12:58 P.M. blur.
Sunday 1:00 P.M. – Turn on NFL Red Zone (unless Giants are playing). Spend next six hours in in The Red Zone, which is the football equivalent of a morphine drip spiked with meth.
Sunday 7:00 P.M. – Sunday Night pre-game show a.k.a. Red Zone methadone. It’s good to come down a little bit here, because Tony Dungy’s face could turn any trip bad fast.
Sunday 8:00 P.M. – Sunday Night game. Last minute beer/cigarette spike.
Monday 6:00 A.M. – Where the hell am I? I have to fucking go to work? Penetrating introspection, substance of which entirely determined by Giants and fantasy team results.
Monday 8:30 P.M. – Settle on couch bleary-eyed, half-delirious, committed to three more hours of football even if it kills me.
Which it feels like Football Sunday kind of almost does, every week. Both kills me and makes me feel more alive then ever before. The stress of which should, by design, be enough. The NFL is ostensibly the one major sport in which teams only play sixteen games per season. Sixteen opportunities per team to sell tickets (albeit in bigger stadiums), sixteen opportunities per team for in-game advertising.
Except the most ambitious or shrewd or greedy (or all three) owners in sports have rigged the system and made Football Sunday literally a 24/7 affair. It never stops – one day, stretched over an entire week like a piece of twisted plastic wrap on an oversized bowl of leftovers. But you can’t throw out Football Sunday like plastic wrap. From September through January, it’s just there. Active or ambient, it doesn’t go away. It’s my favorite thing in the world, but I do wonder what that non-hungover child would think of my new routine.
Featured image courtesy of 4.bp.blogspot.com