Normally on a Thursday night I’d be at Sci-Fi City getting my geek on. But only one thing could make me turn aside from an evening of sitting around playing board games, and that’s sitting around watching other people actually engage in physical activity. Yes, the annual fall and winter orgy of testosterone and beer known as football season arrives tonight, ready to leave a trail of ignored significant others in its wake.
No other professional sport inspires this kind of frenzy. Your favorite baseball or basketball or hockey team loses their first game, oh well, you’ve got anywhere from 70 to 161 more chances to get it right. Your favorite football teams loses on opening day? That’s 1/16th of the season gone just like that. And you’ve got a week of build-up until the next one. Sundays become summits, the shining peak of the weekend, a three-hour ritual of noise and speed and power that can take you from euphoric heights to devastating depths and all the way back up again. Other sports feel like a series of commas. Football is a series of exclamation points.
And I’ll likely be using a lot of exclamation points as I watch my Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. I find myself feeling the usual balance of hope and dread. The pre-season sent out all kinds of mixed signals, with the defense looking a little better but the offense still plagued by those maddening slow starts that seem to have existed since they won the Super Bowl. I’d love to finally root for a team that comes out and just stomps people instead of having every game feel like a 17-14 slugfest that has me chewing my nails down to nubs every week. But that wouldn’t be the Bucs I’ve rooted for over the last 35 years. As for the rest of the league, I’m going to refrain from making any predictions. Partly because things feel pretty wide open this year, but mostly because I’ve proven over time I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ll just be trendy and pick the Broncos and the 49ers for the Super Bowl and promptly forget I said anything.
Today also marks the beginning of fantasy football season. I again find myself feeling the usual balance of hope and dread. I cut back from the four leagues I was in last year down to two, but don’t think that means i got any smarter. The site for one of the leagues I’m in gave the draft I felt pretty good about a C- grade. I’m honestly thinking about changing my team name to The Donation, because that’s what I might as well have been the last few years. So watch this be the year I finally make the playoffs. Only to lose there in heartbreaking fashion, swear I’m done with this whole stupid thing, then sign back on board six months from now.
So here’s to Thursdays and Sundays and Mondays spent yelling at inanimate objects and exhorting people who can’t hear me. It’s gonna make the board games seem positively normal.