Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I Love Football

I love football... let me clarify... I REALLY LOVE football!

I haven't written much about my life as a football fan on this blog because well... generally when my hippie/musician/environmental friends find out this little factoid about me, they tend to recoil in horror.

I know, I know... football is violent, it's capitalistic, it's full of sexist stereotypes... it's pretty much everything a zen peacenik, leftist, eco-freak like myself is supposed to hate.

But I can't help myself, I just LOVE it!

I love the whole feel good theme of teamwork and unity...

The triumph of the forces of good...

over the forces of evil...

The incredible athletic maneuvers...

The come from behind victories...

The strategic play calling...

I guess football also fills my heart with a great deal of nostalgia. I'm not sure exactly how or why, but for some reason football has always been a bit of a unifying factor in my life. As a child, my family was nothing if not disagreeable, but one thing we could all rally behind was the Denver Broncos.

One of my few memories from before my parents divorced was watching a Broncos game at a family BBQ. I must have been about 3 years old at the time, and was, as usual, the baby of the gathering. What I remember is that everybody was rooting for Floyd Little. And I figured that he was "Little", and I was little, so maybe being the smallest wasn't so bad after all. Hey, it was 3 year old logic...

Throughout my childhood, the games were always on at our house. We had a black and white television, so I'd ask my mom and older brother which team we were... black or white. My brother took great delight in answering that question. "We're orange. Now shut up and watch the game."

And let me tell you, being a Broncos fan in those days was a tough row to hoe. We had this old rickety quarterback (who was probably in his early 30's... which seemed ancient to me) named Craig Morton. We called him "old arthritis knees" and let's just say that mobility was not his forte. But he did take us to our first Superbowl, and even though we got totally creamed, it was like we'd finally made it into the big leagues.

And to tell the truth, there's something very carnally satisfying about having an occasion where it's socially acceptable to jump up and down screaming things like "Get him! Hit him! Clobber him!"

But aside from the vicarious expressions of violence, football is just full of all sorts of wonderful metaphors.

There's taking one for the team...

Then there's redemption after years of hard knocks...

There are miraculous and improbably surprise endings...

I don't know... there's just something so universal about the experience of loving football.

It tends to unite people from all different walks of life. I once worked with a fellow who sent his children to the Waldorf school, where they had courses like interpretive dance. One day he was watching his son out in the backyard going through an elaborate series of movements. When the kid came inside he asked what sort of interpretive dance he was doing. "No dad!" he exclaimed... "It was slow motion replay football!"

But here's the thing... being a football fan gives me something in common with people who I would otherwise see as being on a completely different planet.

And as corny as this sounds, I really do think it brings us together as a community. A friend of mine had a son who played Pop Warner football in the same league as John Elway's son. Elway coached his son's team, but also helped to coach the teams of the younger players like my friend's son. I don't know... perhaps this is just star worship, but I think it's really cool that a mega super-star like John Elway participates in the community like that.

And as much as I'm not a big fan of people who feel the need to wear their religion on their sleeve (or any other part of their body for that matter.)

I've gotta say that it warms my heart to see people like Tim Tebow using their celebrity to boost the spirits of those less fortunate.

But aside from the nostalgia, the excitement, and the sense of community, most of all I love the fact that I live a life that is so privileged that I have the luxury to care about something as inherently meaningless as a group of grown men running around and playing with a funny shaped little ball.

So, I guess in reality, this whole post is just one long introduction to what I really want to say... 

which is...

Suck it, Raiders!!!!!!! You are goin' DOWN!!!

I love football!


  1. This is what makes people interesting--not fitting into one entire mold! I'm glad you came out of the closet (err maybe locker room?)! Despite my strong dislike for football, I say to each their own! I'm sure many of my hippie-dippie pals would gasp if they learned that I LOVE wanna be a fighter love UFC lol! Hey, no one's perfect ;)

    1. Ha! OK... I don't know what UFC is. Professional wrestling maybe? Clearly, my love of football does not mean that I know anything about any other corner of pop culture!

    2. UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship. It's full on fighting...more than boxing or wrestling. And it is amazing!

    3. Well... there's something to be said for getting in touch with your inner fighter!

  2. My knowledge of football is as encyclopedic as my knowledge of particle accelerator physics, so pardon me why I ask what must be a very dumb question: if the guy was so good at winning games, why did they get rid of him as soon as they could? I thought winning games was sort of the point.

    1. Hmmmm... well that would depend on which guy you're referring to.

      If you mean Peyton Manning... Well... he suffered a pretty serious neck injury and was out all last season, which meant that the Colts lost virtually every game and ended the season with the worst record in football. Normally you'd think they'd be eager to have Peyton back, but this isn't a normal year.

      Because this year there's a young fellow coming out of college named Andrew Luck (I kid you not, that's really his name) who is supposedly the best young quarterback the world has ever seen. So, since the Colts were the worst team this year, they get the first pick in the draft, which means they get Andrew Luck... Lucky Colts!

      This means that they get an amazing quarterback for very little money, and get to save the $18 million per year that they were paying Peyton Manning. I guess they also don't want to risk Peyton getting re-injured, or not being as good when he returns. (BTW - the Broncos medical staff all checked him out and watched him play and think he's gonna be fine... but it is a bit of a risk.)

      Now... if you're referring to Tim Tebow, well... he did win some games. But he didn't win ANY games in a convincing manner. As one of the sportscasters put it, it's great to have a bunch of amazing 4th quarter comebacks, but in order to have that many come from behind victories, you have to play poorly enough throughout the majority of the game to always be so far behind in the 4th quarter!

      The truth of the matter is that Tim Tebow is an excellent athlete, but he's not a great quarterback. He completed less than 50% of his passes, and while he got a lot of credit for those victories, it was really the amazing work of the Denver defense, and the creative play calling by the coaching staff that made it all happen. It was sort of like having a quarterback who only has one tool in his toolbox, and by the end of the season, the other teams were starting to figure him out.

      It was a really strange year here in Denver, because there was IMMENSE fan pressure to play Tebow, especially after the dismal start to the season. CatMan and I were actually theorizing that the real reason they decided to play Tebow was because they thought he'd get clobbered, and we'd end up being the worst team in football, and be able to draft Andrew Luck! But then the guy won a few games and we were out of the running for Luck, so they made the best of it and totally re-worked the offense around the few things that Tebow does well.

      It was really wild from a play-calling perspective... I mean they were calling plays that you usually see in college or high school football, rather than in the pros. So it caught people off guard at first, but it wasn't gonna be a good long term strategy for success.

      OK... I'm sorry. I fear I gave you WAY more than you were asking for there... but you DID ask!

    2. OK.. I apologize in advance for writing more on this topic... see?!? You've created a monster!!

      Anyhow, I just read an interesting article written by an NFL insider which said that the Broncos actually considered Tebow to be a higher injury risk than Manning, and that this was a major factor in their decision to trade him. And that's an aspect of the thing that I had totally forgotten about. Since Tebow is primarily a running back in QB clothing, his body takes a severe beating. In fact, he was injured so badly in the last game of the season that even if we'd somehow won the game, he wouldn't have been able to play the next week.

      It's a really valid point because the average career of an NFL running back is generally around 5 years... and with the reckless abandon approach that Tebow takes, he's likely to get really hurt even sooner... especially if he plays every snap.

      So there's another reason that trading Tebow made sense.

      I'll stop now. Promise.

    3. Thanks! All I know about that T guy is the name. Since I never watch the sport (or much TV at all), I never understood why so many people made a fuss over him and other people couldn't stand him. This helps!

    4. What a generous response. I'm sure you were really thinking WTF?!? I just wanted a simple answer, not a dissertation on Tim Tebow and the quarterback position!!

      You are too kind.

  3. Once upon a time I was a major football fan. My dad had played semi-pro in the 40s & he would watch one game on TV & listen to another on the same time. While he was alive, I hated football because with one TV, I couldn't watch any of my shows when football was on. After he died, Miami got a pro team - THE DOLPHINS. BTW - the ONLY team to play a perfect season, coached by Don Shula (the world's best football coach) & quarterbacked by Earl Morrill (an old guy who replaced the injured Bob Griese). Then along came the world's best quarterback (and the cutest)DAN MARINO. Then the team owner fired both Shula & Marino - really screwed them over & I've hated football ever since. My list of what's wrong with football is as long as your what's wonderful about football. I'll quit here & stop being Debbie Downer. If it makes you happy.......

    1. Well, I've gotta admit that I was pretty far down in the dumps about football after Pat Bowlen lost his mind and fired Mike Shanahan... and then hired McDoofus (one of my kinder nick names for the idiot) who proceeded to decimate one of the best offenses in the league because his little ego couldn't stand it if anybody didn't worship at his feet. Thankfully, Bowlen finally decided to hire Elway to make all meaningful decisions for the team, so things are lookin' up again.

      Don't get me wrong... I know the list of what's wrong with football is long and detailed... anything that has that kind of money attached to it is bound to be corrupted by human greed. And I've gotta say that on some level it totally kills me to see the Colts let a guy like Peyton Manning let go because of a "business decision."

      But none of the many legitimate things that are wrong with the NFL have been enough to make me stop loving the sport. Guess I'm just a sucker... be we knew that!

      BTW - I too watch the games with the sound turned down and the radio on. CatMan even wrote software to play the radio through the computer so you can sync the audio from the radio with the TV video. I mean, why would anybody want to listen to the blow hard idiots on network TV when you could be listening to Dave Logan and Brian Griese (son of Bob) calling the game!

    2. My dad watched one game & listened to a different one on the radio. He would have had multiple tvs but no one in the 50s & 60s had more than 1 tv in the house.

    3. OK... that would make me crazy!

  4. Raiders = Evil


    1. Evil incarnate! And they play mean!!!

    2. I can't believe I'm letting myself get drawn into a football discussion. Ugh!

      Not all of the Raiders are evil. They've had some good guys on their team. Here's a list of their Hall of Famers. Gene Upshaw did so much good, with the players union, to help the average, unknown players - especially where insurance coverage for retirees is concerned.

      And Manning is good, but $96 million dollars? No one is that good. Pretty soon only millionaires will be able to attend a game. End of bitching. (Oops - baseball is nearly as bad).

    3. Connie, you are of course, correct. And Al Davis, as much as I had issues with the man, was one of the last team owners who actually made his money from football rather than just buying a franchise with a fortune acquired elsewhere.

      But the Raiders are our arch enemies... and I'm a sworn Raider Hater! It goes against my nature to think anything good about them!

  5. LMAO, I was not expecting your last line. Have a fabulous day! I'm not a fan of the game, but I do enjoy the get-togethers and FOOD associated with it all!

    1. I am laughing because I seldom enjoy football games at a "get together" because there are generally lots of people who know nothing about the sport, and they don't understand my need to listen attentively to each and every word of the commentary... thinking it's "dead air" that should be filled with chit chat. Perhaps I do take it all a tad bit too seriously... :~)

  6. I'm glad you wrote this, because I, too, love football (specifically, Notre Dame football), yet struggle with it for all the reasons you mention.

    Since the games are almost always on Saturday afternoons, I also have a hard time spending four hours of a gorgeous fall afternoon sitting inside in front of the TV, especially since it's not a love that my husband shares. Perhaps I will try to catch a few more games and feel a little less guilty this fall.

    1. Ha! Another closet football fan!! YES!!!

      I totally know what you mean about the time though... As silly as this sounds, part of me has actually been grateful that the Broncos have sucked so badly the past few years because it freed up my Sundays weeks earlier than usual. And don't even get me started on things like games on Thanksgiving... I mean really... do they have to throw football into an already complicated family situation? It's merciless, I tell you... MERCILESS!!!

      I do find it quite refreshing that you're a fan and your husband is not though... there's turning the gender stereotypes on their heads!

    2. Oh yes, he could care less about sports in general.

      When we first started dating, I was a recent grad and glued to the TV every time that ND played in the fall. He had a bumper crop of basil that year, so he would harvest entire huge plants, and bring a large trash bag full of basil plants to my place. We would both work on pulling off the leaves and stuffing them in freezer bags.

      He got much more work done than I did, but he did learn something about football in the process :)

    3. What a great story, and how fun to have a husband who is really into gardening. I'm afraid unless we're totally getting killed and I need something to take my mind off the game, I'm sort of incapable of doing anything else while the Broncos are playing!

  7. I do have a football memory that I think you'll enjoy. Many years ago, during my RABID Dolphin days, I had a wonderful rescue cat named Chester. (Guess I'll have to blog about him - such a special fella). Anyway, I had a tendency to SCREAM bloody murder at the TV set. Wherever Chester was, he'd come running and jump into my lap. He'd then proceed to curl up & go to sleep, even through all the screaming. My assumption: he thought I was in trouble & he came to save the day. Seeing that I was simply a nut job, he decided to stand guard in case, but sleep in the meantime until his heroic intervention might be needed. Football was never quite the same after he was gone.

    1. Oh, that's so sweet! I fear I've been known to scare the begeezus out of my cats when I start jumping up and down and screaming. But they usually adjust a few weeks into the season!

  8. Cat noooooooo not the foosball! It's evil!!

    Now hockey, there's a sport.... ;)

    I think growing up in the Buckeye state and having a mom that would scream at the TV enough to scare the begeebus out of me when I was little scarred me from football for life. But, I accept that football fans are people too. Some of them at least.

    I kid, i kid.

    1. Ha! And I consider hockey players to be nothing more than "Thugs on Ice." This may be because my sophomore year in college I was an RA, and had the misfortune to be assigned to the dorm where a large contingent of the hockey team lived. They were total animals! They would routinely break every rule that I was supposed to be enforcing, and even threw the pop machine out the window one time!

      Yet because they were star hockey players, and it was a hockey school, they had complete diplomatic immunity. Still, I was somehow expected to enforce the rules when the campus security wouldn't even respond. GRRRRR... I finally got so fed up with the situation that I refused to go to the hockey games and became a conscientious objector of sorts!

      I know logically that it's unfair to judge an entire sport based on that whole incident, but I can't help it.

      It's so funny the ways our past experiences shape us, isn't it?

  9. Heh. I don't think I've watched a full football game in my whole life. Ditto for baseball, basketball, soccer, and pretty much anything that involves a projectile object and sweaty men. I love that it lets you connect with people who are outside your normal group, though! I don't think I really have anything like that...all my interests are even more niche than the green/pottery/book/cat groups I usually hang out with. One of the problems of not having a TV, I guess.

    1. OMG... "projectile objects and sweaty men." You totally crack me up!

      Well, I'm nothing if not a seething cauldron of contradictions, but I figure there's no point in fighting it, so I might as well embrace it! It's sort of my one window into popular culture. Other than football, my TV is pretty much exclusively used for Netflix & news. OK, OK... there's a little figure skating thrown in now and then, but other than that it all bores me to tears.

  10. Yesterday -- for the first time in my life -- I became an athletic booster of Iowa State University. I didn't grow up watching many major college or pro sports, but have become somewhat obsessed the last couple of years because both the football team and men's basketball teams are on their way up and it's just fun. Both teams are also coached by "hometown guys" so it's fun to see them succeed. This is way out of character for me. I often think, "There are more worthwhile causes" or "Big sports don't need my money..." but at the end of the day I'm a fan and I want access to tickets and special events. I know that fandom cuts a wide swath and I might not have much in common with some of the people in the cheering section -- if I had to discuss politics or books with them I might be annoyed or bored. But, I think humans need little havens where they can come together and just cheer something on they all can believe in with unabashed joy -- it keeps us from being total cynics.

    1. "unabashed joy" That just about sums it up. I still remember when the Broncos won their first Superbowl... it was a really fun time to be in Denver because for one of the few times I can remember it seemed like everybody I came across was pulling in the same direction. It's just fun to feel a sense of common purpose with virtually everyone you meet... even if it is just a stupid game.


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