It’s that time of year again. I know. My female friends spurn me for feeding into the frenzy created by the men in their life. I can’t help myself. I’m a girl, but I love football.
The build-up to this weekend has been mounting since we watched the Ravens beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. The victory was bittersweet. Watching the esteemed champion take home the coveted Lombardi trophy was great, but with that win came the end of another season. And suddenly, a void permeated our house. I remember vividly watching the end of year highlights on ESPN for the 2011-12 season. Outasight was singing Tonight is the Night while viewers around the world got a snapshot of the year in video.
What is it about the kaleidoscope of year end footage that reduces me to tears? Everything about the recap illustrates what I, and so many others, love about football: a nostalgic glimpse of what we are soon going to miss. Football is not merely a game. As columnists far more sports-minded than I have been depicting for years, football is a way of life. It is a tradition, a culture—for some almost a religion.
I love the consistency of football. I love the blissful whiff of Fall on a field. I love the voice of Cris Collinsworth and seeing Erin Andrews is on the sidelines and not on The Bachelorette. I love the breadth and depth of NFL statistics, proving that math is necessary to work for ESPN. It is the only place I will applaud a man in skintight pants. And I love knowing I’m not the only crazy lunatic who relies on weird habits and superstitions to predict my team’s success. I love the ferocity that which alumni mine the memory of their alma mater. I even love the commercials; they are perfectly timed for bathroom breaks. I love watching little boys and grown men struggle over rooting for a team versus their fantasy players. I love that my dogs bark when the family starts screaming and cheering. They are rooting for my team; don’t try to convince me otherwise.
I love the marvel of Red Zone and Sunday Ticket so you can flit back and forth through channels in manic, obsessive flicks of the remote. I love watching social media bleed a franchise’s colors. I love wondering what Coach Taylor would do. I love the edge-of-your-seat nail-biting that comes with a 4th and goal and :08 left in the final quarter. I love watching the underdog come up from behind and the certainty that Bill Belichick will be in his hoodie. I love seeing large, scary-looking men cry. I love watching them dance like nobody is watching. I love getting into the mind of a young player and understanding where he’s been. So what if he plays for my nemesis? You root for this kid. I love when an injured player stands up to a roaring stadium, though it is the best excuse for forbidding my own boys from putting on a helmet. I love the noise. I love the moment we step away from our lives and forget all else but the rectangular box. I love that we can learn by watching how one handles loss and victory. I love how life isn’t always fair plays out on fields across America. Just ask any team who lost in overtime because they didn’t win the coin toss.
Though the season has barely started, I love that I already know there are 147 days until we will be watching another Super Bowl. 147 days of football. I even know the song they should pick for the end of year highlight reel. God, I love this game.