Used to be, watching my Sunday football was good for inspiring me to go smash up the crummy concrete walkway to the front door.
So there was that.
But there’s only so many swatches of concrete to bust up. And, as a diehard Miami Dolphins fan, there’s a boundless supply of inspiration to break things. One unsuccessful playoff appearance aside, my team hasn’t contended since the dawn of the new millennium. (Seriously, if some couple had celebrated their last playoff victory with a little somethin’somethin’, and that celebration resulted in a baby, that child would have just started high school.)
These days, my choices were to buy another house with lots of concrete or manage my anger. I chose the latter route, as I thought the former patch might damage my marriage.
And I’ve gotten a lot better. But no matter how many deep-breathing techniques I tried, there were times when I’d gush forth an emotional plea for my team to make fewer mistakes. Something like this, which I’ve made family friendly with Yosemite-Sam-style word substitutions:
“CHAD HENNE* YOU ARE A (CONSARNED) IDIOT. ARE YOU COLORBLIND? DO YOU KNOW WHICH TEAM YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE THROWING THE (CONSARNED) BALL TO? OHMY(CONSARNED)GOD, I HATE FOOTBALL.”
On top of this, I was typically following my “team” via live Internet feeds obtained by dubious means. I’m not going to say the words “illegal streaming,” but I might’ve had to click through a lot of weight-loss and lonely-housewife banner ads only to get a pixelated screen that was prone to freezing on 3rd-and-9, with the QB in the shotgun, about to launch a deep pass. The only thing worse than watching that interception is knowing it’s about to happen but not being able to verify it. When I have a piece of my soul devoured, I like to know about it.
This was a good year to make an even more drastic change. I had two friends simply quit watching football this year – the culmination of guilt from watching young men smash each other until their heads just aren’t right anymore and disdain for their politics. These are trendy positions, furthered by new books like Steve Almond’s “Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto,” and last year’s “The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America,” by Gregg Easterbrook.
I want football to be safer. I even want it to stop taking over my whole Sunday (as a pro-only fan, I’m an anomaly in the South).
Yet I don’t want to quit watching it.
This year, I’m just watching it late. I ponied up $40 for NFL Game Rewind. For the uninitiated, this is a service that lets you stream all of Sunday’s NFL games – legally – after the conclusion of the Sunday night game. For an old-timer like me, that means they’re available first-thing Monday morning. And they’re available as unedited games, sans commercials, or as condensed versions which cut from snap to snap. Watching a game like that cuts the time down to about 35 minutes.
- The TV stays off on Sunday and I gained a whole ‘nother weekend day.
- I get to watch my game in high resolution without ill-timed freezes. (Often I’ll stream it to my PC, but shoot the video to the big-screen TV.)
- I usually watch the condensed game, before work Monday morning. I may still battle the same peaks and valleys of anger, but at least it’s compressed into half an hour. And there’s no more anxious pacing between plays.
- With the condensed versions available, there’s actually time for me to watch more football than in years past.
- Jenn has no idea what the Dolphins’ record is this year. I would technically call this a fault. She counts it as a plus.
It’s not for everyone. Fantasy footballers would never be able to not look at stats as they evolve on Sunday. I’d given up the timesuck of fantasy football years ago, though. And for people who actually get together as a group to watch the game – well, that won’t work. Those are the people who need to pony up the 500 bones for DirectTV’s live Sunday Ticket package.
But for lone fans of teams in other markets with anger management issues, though, Game Rewind is just the ticket.
And, uh, go ‘Phins!
* While I did not arbitrarily choose Chad Henne, this epithet could’ve also fit many others in the turnstile quarterback position for the Dolphins over the last 15 years. Except Chad Pennington, who made great decisions but had his own Mr. Glass issues. And I actually like Ryan Tannehill.