Brady to Moss - A combination so perfect it makes PB&J Blush. (AP Photo)
So it has begun, football season is here - throngs of beer swilling, belly filling, laptop checking, Bill Belichicking, Dorito eating fleeting football loving freaks are ready to consume, digest, and obsess over what has now become, for better or worse, America's Game. The NFL is reaching it's apex in this weird year of 2009 for I've never felt it's momentum rush me with such great strength before - it's like a tsunami of consumerism carrying me along for the ride and much like being caught in a vicious riptide, resistance is futile when dealing with forces of nature such as this. I've always loved football, and have been a self professed sports freak for as long as I can remember, however the level of mass fanaticism that football-heads now posses is reaching levels that Manson or Koresh could only dream of. Kool-Aid traded in for Bud Light, who knew? We've replaced the Coliseum of Roman times with Corporate sponsored Megaplexes where our gladiators wear football pads and grow to sizes of extreme magnitude, and in the vein of the blood lust the Romans had - so can be compared and contrasted to what football has always been to America, the great outlet - the big release.
Sunday has been transformed into a Black Sabbath - as normally strait and upright citizens turn into alcohol fueled, meat crazed, face painted maniacs in stadiums with names such as Arrowhead and Gillette all across the country. You can truly tell that football is now "America's Game" by not only seeing how obsessed Americans are with it, but also by how little the rest of the world cares about the sport. People around the globe view football with the same contempt and disregard as American's have for soccer - and Americans wouldn't have it any other way. Slap on top of this the fact that we call our Football by the same name as their Futbol and the stench of the Red, White, and Blue is even stronger. Watching the opening fireworks envelope Pittsburgh in a ball of flame last night gave me visions of Beijing during the Summer Olympics, and in my quaint apartment myself and some select friends watched this display of excess with slack jawed wonder while using descriptive adjectives like, "Wow" or "Jesus Chris" as we were washed over by something we couldn't quite grasp. Quite simply I was taken aback, as I watched the football season begin with a literal bang.
Another reason football is so popular in the States is because it's fairly passive to be a fan, with the involvement being minimal (Amazingly I'll refute this very point in no less than one sentence). Unlike baseball, you technically only have to pay attention to the sport one day a week, and the amount of dead-time within it allots for a plethora of commercials that makes for a perfect marriage between the sponsor and consumer, and as you're already well aware of, football fans are experts in consumption. The one arena that I've found most interesting is the parasitic growth of Fantasy Football in living rooms and bars across America. This has been one of the dirty little secrets of the NFL - aside from how perfect the game is to gamble on - and is how they've turned football from a one-day-a-week obsession to a daily ritual.
I've been playing Fantasy Football for what's going on a decade now and the evolution and amount of participation has grown like a weed. This year I'm in two "regular" leagues along with a pick-em & suicide league - which makes watching the games exponentially more fun, and also teaches you a lot about the game and teams you'd never pay attention to otherwise. Fantasy Football is also a dangerous addiction which should be handled with the utmost care, before you know it you'll find yourself watching a 49er vs. Chiefs game on a Sunday Afternoon screaming at the top of your lungs....madness. Or you'll be pining over line-up decisions at 11:30am on Sunday and creating a level of stress that is not productive to promoting health or resembles anything remotely considered leisurely. All that said though, it's fun as hell, and is something I greatly enjoy like a wonderful sports drug. From having live drafts with friends to talking copious amounts of trash on the message boards - it truly is a Patriotic activity, and it's just getting bigger & bigger as time wears on which makes me wonder where the breaking point lies?
This coming season should at the very least be an interesting one for The New England Patriots as Tom Brady is finally back behind center. As it stands now, they're the Vegas favorites to win the Superbowl despite being sans a real defense anymore. I think they'll obviously do decent despite having to watch portions of the games through my fingers as I still am suffering from the post-traumatic stress of losing Brady last year. Memories that make me shudder along the same lines of David Tyree or Aaron Boone.
Egad - that awful cretin Aaron Boone has reminded me that this is after-all a baseball blog, with a team that's in the middle of a Wild Card battle none-the-less, sorry about that. Either way, I can feel that I'm losing the steam and heart for this post so it's likely best to dead it here. So football freaks of the world, I say welcome to the season, and may the Fantasy Gods of Football past and present smile on you each Sunday afternoon. Ready. Set. HIKE.