It's that time of year again.
Your significant other is fully entrenched in his fantasy football league, he's sitting on the couch or in his recliner with a cold beverage, not moving except for the occasional bathroom breaks. He's clasps his hands together and holds them to his face, turning red with tension as his team tries to score. As the team enters the red zone, so does he. He's focused, probably more than he's ever been focused, and then the ball is snapped...
For 5-10 seconds at a time, he's in complete bliss. Then he'll scream, pump a fist, use some vocabulary that even makes the family dog do a double take. Why a screen pass? How can you let them get a sack? Are you kidding me?
When his team is doing good, he's the same guy you've always known. When his team is doing bad, he's a different version of himself only reserved for things that require that much passion. He may throw things, hit the arm of the chair, or rub his own face red in disgust. He's only human.
"It's just a game!"
It's a game we love. At it's base, yes, football is a bunch of dudes just trying to chase a ball around. But it's much more. Ask him why he became a fan of his favorite team, and he'll tell you a story about how when he was a kid, it was his favorite memory of bonding with his dad. Or he'll tell you that they were the first team that they ever remember watching play. Or they liked their jersey color back then and mama didn't raise no quitters. It's never just a game to a true football fan. It's a big part of their life. Working all week and finally getting to plop down in front of the TV and watch their favorite team, or any team for that matter, play a game that we love is enough of an escape for us. If you're dealing with someone who used to play? Forget about it. It's more than a game. If you think we're forgetful, ask us about our favorite football play our team made. Ask us about a play we made when we played. Every single detail is lodged into the deepest compartment in our brains. Even if it's about gym class. We can remember it because it meant something to us. We may never play again, even on Thanksgiving in the backyard, but it became part of our DNA. It's who we are, don't fight it. Embrace it. Cheer with us.
The later into the season it gets, the more important the games get. The more important the games get, the more emotion involved. In the most literal fashion, we don't mean what we say. If we were stuck in a room with us while we watched football, it's almost guaranteed there would be a fist fight over things we said to ourselves. They just need to tackle! (Or catch, or run, or pass, or kick better). It's not about you. It's not about us. If we showed this much commitment to everything in our lives, we'd be burned out in minutes. It's one day a week where we get to let out anger, excitement, happiness, and inhuman noises, that won't get us fired, jailed, or put in a straightjacket.
Constructive criticism is usually not welcomed with open arms. The amount of attention we pay to our teams, their players, the opponents team, is a level of commitment we usually reserve for you. Telling us that we're overreacting to a game, is the same to us telling you that you're overreacting to anything you care about. We know we get crazy, we just can't help it. And much like in football, some are better than others. Some can compartmentalize with the best of them, when the game goes off, so does any negative attitudes. Some need to take a breather and calm themselves down. Some play Madden to avenge their team. Some just go to bed. There's levels to how to deal with it.
We don't thank you enough. There's no way we ever could. We lose ourselves in the game. We lose sight of what's really important. You have to put up with us every other day of the year, football season is basically an amplified version all wrapped up into a few months out of the year. We know you mean well. We don't mean to be rude. And for that we could never apologize enough. During football season we can't promise to be the perfect angel, we're not watching rom-coms here, we have a real, deep rooted, interest in the outcome. But we can give you a pat on the butt, "good game," and some encouraging claps every once and awhile to show you we care about you too.
As for the rest of you, if you're single and an avid NFL fan, apologize to your neighbors. They may not be so forgiving about you screaming, "Ref, check your voicemail, cause you've been missing calls all day!" for 4 hours on a Sunday every week.