football for dummies.

Today Graphic Designer Friend invited me over to her house to watch some Sunday football. We had it all planned out: stop by the grocery store first, stock up on provisions, and then back to her place to settle into the couch and take full advantage of a magical thing called NFL RedZone (more on that ‘magical’ bit later) for an entire lazy Sunday afternoon. Her roommates popped in and out, and Iowa Girl stopped by with her little one in tow, and it was altogether a great damn day.

But first: a confession.

I was a little nervous about the whole thing. We’d had it planned out for maybe a week. I’d excitedly agreed to her suggestion of a “football day,” as it’d been over a month since we last hung out. She could have suggested a “grave robbing day” and I would have most likely been on board.

But then I thought about it further (the football thing, not grave robbing). I considered my dearth of football knowledge and mentally weighed it against her fanaticism. I began to worry that I’d be poor company. I imagined her trying to hold in-depth conversations re: strategy or plays or… whatever… and becoming disgusted with my inability to contribute anything meaningful other than “Wow, those cleats sure are pink!”

I know this is gonna shock y’all, but baseball is my first and true love. This is extremely closely followed by hockey. College basketball comes third. I guess football would rank around the fourth spot, but who gives a shit about someone’s fourth-most-loved organized sport?

Despite being raised in a football-loving home, I never took to it. Since almost before I could remember, my immediate family has had a weekly football pool. I have fond memories of my dad typing each week’s matchups on a typewriter with fucking carbon paper so that all three (eventually four) of us could “make our picks.” I dutifully “watched” games with Dad, but for any number of reasons, my little brain just never soaked it all in. I failed to absorb the rules, the overview, the anything. My knowledge of the sport is strictly color-commentary: I know the famous players, I know all the teams. Ask me if the Rams are in the AFC or NFC and I will give you a blank, slack-jawed, stare. Admitting this publicly is shameful. I pray my parents don’t read this.

Because, for whatever reason, they just assume I’m on the same page. Both my Dad and Juanita talk about football with me like I understand what they’re saying. If I straight-up told them now that I have no idea what a “first down” is, they would laugh. Not at my ignorance, but because they’d probably think I was kidding with them.

I once dated a football-obsessed man whom I practically begged to explain football to me. And he was super excited about it at first. We set up a Sunday where we would watch a game and he promised to explain everything that was happening. But then the game came on and “his” team was apparently sucking it up so he bailed. “It doesn’t matter. This is a terrible game,” he said when I asked what was going on.

We didn’t last, for what it’s worth.

Fast forward to today – a day that I imagined would end with me bored to tears, bored to anger, or a terrible combination of both.

Okay. So I exaggerate a bit when I say I don’t have any idea what’s going on. I know enough to know when things are getting interesting.

Enter RedZone.

Like – what? A channel that only shows the game at the “exciting” parts? And all the games? I was beside myself. This was awesome! I cheered at appropriate moments, without even sneaking a sideways glance at other people to make sure I was right! Talk about a power trip. I suddenly became a football fucking expert. “Did you see that guy and the thing he did? That was impressive!”

Well, maybe not an expert…

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