Fourth Down

We have four meaningful football games left this season.  Well, three and three-quarters if you want to get technical.  And if you want to get really technical, there hasn’t been a personally meaningful football game for me since, oh, October.  Thanks again, Tampa Bay!

A football season takes on both a strange swiftness and a sullen lethargy when your team sucks.  Your anticipation is completely gone, so the weeks slip by without much build-up.  But at the same time, you suffer through sixteen games’ worth of drudgery.  Even the games the Bucs kept close were not even close to being entertaining.  And as the season wore on, winning actually became a detriment, posing a threat to our draft position.  It got to the point where I was actually ticked off they were leading their final game at halftime.  You don’t come that far to blow the #1 pick on the last day of the season.

And while we’ve got a college championship going on right now and there’s still the Super Bowl to look forward to, unless you’ve got a horse in the race, you’re completely detached right now.  We’re over a month from free agency, and over three months from the draft.  For those of us not rooting for the six remaining teams, all we have to sustain us are firings and hirings of various coaches, which is a melancholy kind of excitement.  If you’re looking for a new coach, chances are good it’s because the last one drove the team into the ground.  It’s anticipation bred from failure.

I felt a little detached this season for reasons other than my miserable excuse of an NFL team.  My main X-Wing day falls on a Sunday, and while not wanting to suffer through another Bucs game made it easy to head to the store instead, I missed a lot of other games too, to the point where the season seemed more like a random collection of games than a progression.  Of course, this is my usual end-of-things melancholy, where I feel like I didn’t do enough of the thing and now it’s over.  Halloween?  Didn’t watch enough horror movies.  Christmas?  Didn’t go see enough lights.  New Year’s?  Didn’t watch enough bowl games.  Maybe it’s just endings in general and not the lack of football.

Of course, I remember when the Bucs were playoff contenders and I’d be agonizing through the post-season, so maybe they did me a favor this year.  I’m already in off-season mode.  No pesky games to get ready for, no late-season disappointments.  I can transition into spring free of what-ifs, with no blown calls to lament, no losses to mourn.  And the first pick in the draft to look forward to.

We’re #1.


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