I haven’t watched much football this year. Well, I’ve watched absolutely ZERO games in 2017, college or pro.
If you would have asked me a few years back if I’d go an entire fall without watching a single game, I’d have said you’ve gone crazy. Yet, here I am. It’s a weird feeling as football was my life growing up. Watching football on Saturday’s and Sunday’s were everything for me.
In fact, one of the strongest feelings I have from my childhood is the remorse when the late Sunday game would come to an end and the reality of my life as a poor, island kid in Maine would come back.
The ending of those 4pm East Coast time games was always surreal. That game was usually played out West, the Raiders vs. Denver or something, which meant it would be bright and sunny for the 1pm kickoff there but in Maine darkness would be settling in.
As the game wore on and the sun began to go down at the game, in Maine it would already be dark, cold and very quiet on the island I was raised. It was kind of creepy actually, like the world around me had come to a stop, except for those warm and cheery people at the game out West.
I was always jealous of those people. A lot of times they were in shorts and T-shirts and here we were worried about the pipes freezing and bursting from a Nor’Easter coming through. They lived in a whole different world than me, one a poor, island boy from Maine could only dream about.
But that was my life growing up. Football, as an escape all weekend and reality the rest of the week.
I used to create imaginary football leagues, keep stats, draw team uniforms and even write articles about the games that were “played”. School consisted of 1/3 time paying attention in class and 2/3 doodling and working on my football league while the teacher did whatever teachers do.
I’d stare out the window at the grass in the fall, or the snow in the winter, just dying to get out there and get a game in with my friends before the sun went down and everyone had to go home to do homework.
Of course, back in those days, you had school clothes and play clothes so you were SUPPOSED to go change into your play clothes after school, before you went out, but we were young boys. No one ever did that. We had too much energy to release after being cramped up in school for 8 hours to wait another 30 minutes to change into your play clothes.
We just decided to take our licks from our moms if we got grass stains on our school pants. Just the price a young boy paid in order to play.
So, as you can tell, football was life. Organized football never did much for me though. I was never very good. I am not a fan of being hit. It hurts! So, while I played a few years, at that point my best playing days were clearly behind me. 🙂
But man, I still followed football religiously. I loved it. I was an encyclopedia of football trivia from the 70s and 80s. As I got older I began to watch it less, but still I watched more than the average person that’s for sure. A couple college games a week and certainly ALL the NFL games.
Now here I am in 2017 and I have watched NO games at all, except for this one, the Army/Navy game and I don’t miss it at all.
Army/Navy is everything I love about football. Running offenses with the games being decided by the superiority of the lines. An offense line that gets on a roll and gets 4-6 yards a carry is something to behold. It’s domination at its finest. So much more so than the way the game is played now with 35 pass attempts a game per quarterback and maybe 10-15 running plays.
Football is a game that SHOULD be decided in the trenches by the grunts, i.e., the linemen. No primadonna wide receivers with their stupid antics, no shotgun, no empty backfields. Football is a game where raw force, the ability to move one team off the ball and take a yard, or 4, is how it should be won or lost.
Yes, I love the Patriots and am very glad Tom Brady is finally recognized as the GOAT. Yes, Brady gets a ton of yardage via the passing game, most of the time out of the shotgun with an empty backfield.
Brady and Belichek run a different kind of offense. They have replaced the running game with short 3-5 yard passes over the middle. It’s an ingenious strategy actually and obviously has been incredibly successful. But man, do I miss when Craig James ran all over the Miami Dolphins in the 1985 AFC Championship to go to their first Super Bowl.
I miss the run game. Stupid Colin Kapernick and the anti-flag protests is not what turned me off football. I don’t like it, mind you, but football, not just the NFL, lost me way before that. They lost me when the running game was abolished.
Which brings me to my love of the Army/Navy game. 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Today’s game was 3 yards and a cloud of snow. Can it get any better than that? Old school running football in the snow and mud??? Few penalties, no show-off antics, team first and just straight north and south ball control.
I love it. But it’s gone. Never to come back other than the Army/Navy game. It’s painful in a way because as I stated above football has been such a part of my life. But things change. I’m okay with that. But man it’s nice to step back in time once a year and just enjoy the way life used to be.