I know this because I love football and tomorrow is the first Sunday of the NFL season. I make a bit deal of it every year. I tend to speak in excessive hyperbole every time football season rolls around and I make no apologies for that. I don’t care if I sound like some crazed sports fan. I just love football that much.
For the next several months, I plan on building my entire Sunday afternoons around watching NFL football. That’s only going to make every weekend more awesome by default. The only thing that could make it better is if I found a beautiful woman who loves watching football on Sundays as much as I do.
However, on the eve of the first Sunday of the first week of the NFL season, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge something that has played a huge part in my love of football. That something is a wonderful little innovation the NFL created in 2009 called NFL RedZone.
To the uninitiated or uninformed, NFL RedZone is a cable TV channel that plays from 1:00 p.m. EST to 8:00 p.m. EST every Sunday during every week of the NFL regular season. It basically cycles through every game, covering every touchdown and focusing on games in which a team is close to scoring. It skips all commercials and makes it a point to capture every big moment from every game that Sunday.
I cannot overstate how much this channel has enhanced my football watching experience. Basically, I just tune into the channel at 1:00 p.m. as soon as I have my pizza and beer ready. Then, I don’t need to change the channel or touch anything on my TV for the next seven hours. That seven hours is basically the fan equivalent of football Heaven.
Yes, it does cost extra to get and it’s not cheap, either.
I still pay it gladly every year because it’s worth every penny.
Before NFL RedZone, I still loved watching football. It was just difficult to keep up with all the action. I could only ever watch two games on a Sunday afternoon, plus the Sunday night game. I still enjoyed it, but it was somewhat limited. If even just one of those games was a blowout or not a very intriguing match-up, I might just turn my TV off and do something else.
It was often hit-or-miss, but with more hits than misses. Then, once I discovered NFL RedZone, every Sunday became a hit. I got to see everything the NFL had to offer every Sunday. I could follow teams and players I couldn’t usually follow. It was like going from a tricycle to a Lamborghini. After that fateful first experience, I’ve built my NFL Sundays around it and I haven’t looked back.
I plan to do the same tomorrow. I plan to teach my future children how to experience it, as well. I hope to share the joys of NFL RedZone on Sunday afternoons with whoever enters my life. It’s a hell of a feeling and one I look forward to every year.
Now, the wait is almost over.
Tomorrow, the season begins and NFL RedZone will be my guide.
I can’t wait.
I am so ready for some football.
To all my fellow football fans out there, I hope you experience the same joy tomorrow afternoon that I hope to experience.
For a good four months out of the year, I build my entire Sundays around watching football. Those are often some of the happiest days of the year for me. I’m also not alone. Here in America, football is the most popular sport by a stunningly wide margin. Despite recent political whining, the public’s appetite for football is as strong as ever.
However, in the time between the Super Bowl and the NFL draft, there’s a gaping hole in the sports world that neither hocky nor basketball can adequately fill. For decades, some have tried to fill that hole with spring football, but with limited success. As a lifelong football fan, I really wanted at least one to succeed, if only to make the wait for the next NFL season more bearable.
That was why I was so heartbroken in 2020 when the second iteration of the XFL went under, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This league had everything going for it. I even cheered it on. It had all the makings of a successful league that could finally succeed long term.
Then, COVID-19 happened it all went to hell. I cannot overstate how disappointing that was to me and fellow football fans.
For once, this wasn’t a matter of a league not doing things the right way. It was just a matter of the worst possible timing. Seriously, who could’ve predicted that a once-in-a-century pandemic would come in and upend the world, as we knew it?
Even though the XFL was eventually brought back from the brink of oblivion by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, my hopes are still very fragile. Earlier this year, the XFL tried to make waves by reaching out to the Canadian Football League for a potential collaboration. That went nowhere and understandably so. Neither league is in a position to take bold risks like that.
As disappointing as that was, the XFL did make an official announcement of sorts, courtesy of the Rock. In a YouTube video from the XFL’s main channel, the league announced its return in 2023. It’s keeping the same logo and the same motto. It wasn’t flashy, but this is probably the most we’ll get for now.
While I like that something official came out, a part of me remains skeptical. Don’t get me wrong. I really want the XFL to get another shot. If ever a league deserved a mulligan for circumstances beyond its control, it’s this one. No other failed football league had to deal with a global pandemic. This it not like the AAF or the USFL. This was bad timing and worst circumstances.
That said, this video leaves me unconvinced and worried. I know that 2023 is a long way off. As of now, this league has no coaches and no players. It has nothing both the Rock’s backing. While I’m never one to doubt the Rock, I just don’t know if the third time will be the charm for this league. It has had too much bad luck to this point.
If I had to put odds as to whether we’ll see another XFL game at some point, I would put it at 15 percent. Those are not good odds. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that, but after the heartbreak of last year, I just can’t bring myself to get excited.
Maybe something will change. I really hope it does. I had fun watching those XFL games. They felt like real football with real players who were following their dream. The XFL felt like the best possible chance for spring football to succeed, more so than the upcoming reboot of the USFL. I want it to get that chance. However, the odds of that chance becoming something more aren’t great at the moment.
For a brief moment, picture a typical gay man. Depending on when you grew up, where you came from, and what sort of media you consumed, you probably have a certain image in your head. I suspect that image looks nothing like Ryan O’Callaghan.
Unless you’re a world class NFL football nerd, chances are you haven’t heard that name before. However, after learning about his story, I hope he’s someone who has changed your perception of what it means to be LGBTQ. That’s because Ryan O’Callaghan’s story is a sad, downright heartbreaking story on many levels, but one that has a happy, uplifting ending.
We need more stories like that, especially during Pride Month. We need them now more than ever.
To appreciate what Ryan O’Callaghan went through, it’s necessary to appreciate how hard it can be to live life as a closeted gay man. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a story from decades ago. Ryan O’Callaghan was born in 1983. He’s pretty much the same age as I am. He was born at a time when things were steadily improving for the LGBTQ community.
However, that wasn’t much solace for him. He grew up in a very conservative part of California. After realizing he was gay, he had no idea how he was going to live that life in such an environment. That led him to hide his sexuality. At one point, he even made plans to kill himself.
It’s hard to imagine how agonizing it must be, having to hide a part of who you are from everyone around you. Forget, for a moment, how you feel about homosexuality in general. Imagine trying to hide a big part of who you are from everyone and being terrified of the truth coming out. Could we really manage keeping a secret like that?
I know I couldn’t. I question the honesty of anyone who claims they can. For Ryan O’Callaghan, it was too much. He really didn’t believe he could live a full life as an openly gay man. The best he could do was hide his secret as long as he could. That was where football came in.
This goes back to that picture I conjured earlier. Ryan O’Callaghan is 6 foot 7 inches tall. During his playing days through college and the NFL, he weight in between 250 and 330 pounds. He was an offensive lineman. He looked and played the part. In essence, he was the last person anyone expected to be gay and that’s how he liked it.
Through high school, college, and the NFL, he let football be his mask. It’s supposed to be the manliest sport in the world. Even after Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to play in the NFL in 2014, there’s still this perception that the men who play football fit a certain ideal and that ideal doesn’t involve being gay.
That’s not to say there haven’t been gay players in the NFL. In fact, there have been quite a few. One of the best tight ends in NFL history, Jerry Smith, played his entire 13 year career in the NFL as a closeted gay man. There’s a good chance there are active players in the NFL right now who are gay, but in the closet.
Be that as it may, it offered no comfort to Ryan O’Callaghan. Football was still his mask, but he loved playing it enough to keep going. It also helped that he was very good at it. He was so good that he managed to get a college scholarship with the California Golden Bears. He went onto play well enough to get drafted by the New England Patriots in 2006.
That’s a level of success very few football players ever reach, regardless of position. The fact that Ryan was able to go that far is a testament to both his skill and his talent for the game. Doing it all while in the closet just makes it all the more harrowing.
However, that success didn’t change his plans. Ryan still believed he could not live life as an openly gay man. Once his playing days were over, he still planned to take his own life. At one point, he even wrote a suicide letter, bought guns, and built a cabin. That’s how close he came to ending it all.
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.
Before he took that fatal step, he got help from a clinical psychologist. She helped him out of that dark place. Eventually, he was able to come out, revealing his secret to the general manager who had drafted him. It’s hard to overstate how big that moment must have been for him.
I certainly can’t do it justice. I’ve only touched on some of the details surrounding Ryan O’Callaghan’s story. For a more a more complete picture, check out his book, My Life On The Line. Also, I highly recommend that everyone read this story done by Outsports. It covers Ryan’s struggles in far greater depth.
I should offer a bit of a trigger warning, though. Some of the details are difficult to take in, but it’s worth noting that this story has a happy ending. Here’s a brief snippet.
Very early on in the process he felt it was mandatory to share his truth with Pioli, the man who had brought him from New England and helped keep his career — and his life — moving forward.
Just after the 2011 season, O’Callaghan visited Pioli in his office.
The day before he had called his general manager, who had become a good friend, to ask him for a meeting. Pioli had known about O’Callaghan’s drug abuse, and the gravity in his player’s voice over the phone told him that something dire was on his mind.
“He had built this up like he was coming in to tell me that maybe he had done something truly terrible,” Pioli remembered.
O’Callaghan trudged into Pioli’s office the next day. After a hug and some small talk, O’Callaghan turned serious. He told Pioli he had been visiting with Wilson and had gotten “clean.” It was good news to Pioli.
“I’ve got something else I’ve got to tell you,” O’Callaghan said. At this point he was fighting back tears. Pioli’s mind raced, wondering if his player had harmed or killed someone.
“I’m gay,” O’Callaghan said.
His private announcement was met with immediate support from the GM. Then:
“So what’s the problem you wanted to talk me about?” Pioli asked.
O’Callaghan looked at him, bewildered, 27 years of fear, anxiety and self-loathing meeting Pioli’s stare.
“Scott,” O’Callaghan said, “I’m… gay.”
Pioli acknowledged that and asked again if O’Callaghan had done something wrong.
“People like me are supposed to react a certain way, I guess,” Pioli told Outsports. “I wasn’t minimizing what he was telling me, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. He built this up and built this up to the point where he said he was nearly suicidal. What Ryan didn’t know is how many gay people I’ve had in my life.”
O’Callaghan also didn’t know that, according to Pioli, he wasn’t the first gay NFL player whom his GM had counseled.
The two men talked more and Pioli assured O’Callaghan that their conversation changed nothing, he was still there to support him, and they were still friends. O’Callaghan was shocked by the reaction. Pioli handled it pitch-perfectly, as though he had known all along. So O’Callaghan asked if his boss had, in fact, known.
“Ryan, how would I have known?” Pioli responded.
“Do you really think I like coffee that much?” O’Callaghan asked.
Pioli had no idea what his player was talking about.
O’Callaghan had, since his time in New England, headed to the training room after every practice to consume copious amounts of coffee, a convenient excuse to avoid being in the showers with the rest of his teammates.
Pioli got emotional at the thought of one of his players having to go to those lengths to keep some distance from his teammates. The mental toll this had all taken on O’Callaghan had come into focus.
As they rose to say goodbye, Pioli came around from behind his desk and opened his arms to embrace O’Callaghan. They had hugged countless times before, after games, after the offseason, even just moments ago when O’Callaghan walked into his office.
This time O’Callaghan stuck out his hand to shake.
“What’s with the handshake?” Pioli asked.
“I just told you I’m gay,” O’Callaghan replied sheepishly.
Pioli was having none of it and grabbed O’Callaghan.
“Dude, it’s OK,” Pioli said. Then, in his signature sense of humor, “Just don’t grab my butt.”
That broke the tension and O’Callaghan burst into laughter. The humor was a sign to him that Pioli wasn’t going to change. They could get along just as they always had.
“Don’t worry,” O’Callaghan replied, “You’re not my type.”
I sincerely hope this story resonates with others for all the right reasons. Whether you’re openly LGBTQ, in the closet, or just know people who are struggling with their sexuality, I hope the story of Ryan O’Callaghan offers insight and perspective.
Yes, we’ve made progress as a society. Life for the LGBTQ community is better now than it has been in the past. We still have room for improvement, as Ryan’s story perfectly illustrates. If you or anyone you know is struggling, I hope this story helps you in some way.
Also, if you need help or are at all feeling suicidal, please check out the resources of the Trevor Project. Thank you an have a Happy Pride Month.
For lifelong football fans like me, this is often a bittersweet time of year. The most eventful parts of the NFL offseason have come and gone. Both free agency and the NFL Draft are behind us. All 32 teams in the NFL are very different compared to what they were when the 2020 season ended. For many fans, especially of those whose teams had major overhauls, it’s an exciting time.
As of now, every team is 0-0.
Every team has the potential to go from worst to first.
Every player has the potential to become the best at their position.
At this point, most people know what they’re team is going to look like when the season starts. Now, we also know who, when, and where they’ll play because the NFL just released the full 2021 schedule. It all starts on September 9, 2021 with the Cowboys facing the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. Even if you’re not a fan of those particular teams, that’ll be a glorious day if you’re just a football fan in general.
Given how crazy last year was with games being delayed and no fans being in the stands, I am ready for a full season that isn’t utterly chaotic because of a once-in-a-century pandemic. I can’t wait to see the day when full stadiums of cheering fans are a regular thing again. It’s something I hope players and fans alike never take for granted.
While that wait is going to be long from here on out, the release of the schedule already has me excited. So, to help pass the time while I wait for kickoff, here’s a brief list of the games from 2021 that I’m most excited about. Please note that this is just my list. Yours may differ considerably, depending on your favorite/most hated team. If you think there’s another game worthy of such hype, please mention it in the comments.
#5: Jaguars @ Texans in Week 1
This is likely more of a curiosity than anything else. It’s the debut of the all new, fully rebuilt Jaguars and their new number one overall pick, Trevor Lawrence. Some call him Football Jesus. Some think he’s a once-in-a-generation quarterback who will take the Jaguars to a whole new level. We may not know how true that is with this game, but I’ll certainly be curious to see what he and Urban Meyer can do.
Plus, Tim Tebow could be back. That can only make this game more exciting.
#4: Steelers @ Chiefs in Week 16
These are two perennial playoff teams with high-flying offenses. They both have Hall of Fame quarterbacks and Hall of Fame coaches who have won Super Bowls. This is one of those match-ups where you know you’re getting the best and at this point in the season, this match-up could very well determine which team has the top seed in the playoffs and which team will have to travel on their path to another Super Bowl.
Then again, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers didn’t mind traveling last year on the road to their championship, so there’s that.
#3: Packers @ Chiefs in Week 9
I know. It’s another Chiefs game. No, I’m not playing favorites. I’ve just been watching football long enough to know that Patrick Mahomes makes any game worth watching. However, add future Hall of Famer Aaron Rogers to the mix and this could be must-see TV. Now, it’s not yet clear what’ll happen between the Packers and Rogers. I’ve been following the trade rumors along with anyone else. I don’t think there’s enough there to think someone different will be under center by the time this game is played. Hopefully, it’s still the match-up we all hope it will be.
Plus, this should’ve been the Super Bowl last year. It really should’ve.
#2: Ravens @ Steelers in Week 13
I don’t think I need to say much to justify this. It’s Ravens versus Steelers. They’re not just division rivals. They’re two of the hardest hitting teams in the AFC. Both are regularly in the playoff hunt, especially by mid-season. Both have top tier quarterbacks and quality defenses. It’s usually at this point in the season where one team separates themselves from another and it’s usually in a match-up like this when we see these teams at their best.
If you’re a fan of old school had-nose football, this is your game.
#1: Buccaneers @ Patriots in Week 4
It’s Tom Brady’s first time playing in Foxboro for a team that’s not the Patriots. Need I say more? Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to every play and his greatness brought six Super Bowl titles to New England. Him leaving was a big deal. Him coming back as a Buccaneer after winning them the Super Bowl will an even bigger deal. This is one of those games that’ll have a lot of drama to it. It’ll feel like a playoff game and it’ll only be Week 4.
For that reason, this will likely be the most anticipated game of the season for many, myself included.
I’ll say it again. I am so ready for some football. I know I’ll have to wait a few more months for it to arrive, but I’ll be ready when the time comes. The wait will be agonizing and these five games are just a small slice of a much larger, more delicious cake that is the NFL season, but it’ll be worth it.
Super Bowl LV is over and while the outcome was lacking in drama, it was still not surprising.
Again, Tom Brady led a team to a Super Bowl.
For the seventh time in his career, Tom Brady is a Super Bowl champion.
At this point, there’s no way around it. Tom Brady is the greatest. They call him the GOAT, the Greatest of All Time. It’s not just a cute acronym. It’s the truth. The man has won seven Super Bowls. That’s nearly double that of any other quarterback of any era. He’s also played in ten. Out of a 21 year career, that means he’s been to a Super Bowl almost every other year.
If you’re not an American football fan, just know that’s insane. That’s unheard of. In a game that’s supposed to be the ultimate team sport in which one player cannot win a game alone, it might as well be superhuman. It’s one thing to do this with one team over the course of two decades, but Brady had to raise the bar yet again by going to another team and winning them a Super Bowl in his first year.
Again, that’s insane.
That’s unheard of.
That was thought to be impossible, given the nature of the NFL.
That still didn’t stop Brady. He still went to a new team and, despite not even winning the division, he went onto win the Super Bowl. There are Hall of Fame players who are considered the greatest of their time who never even played in a Super Bowl. Barry Sanders, Bernie Kosar, Calvin Johnson, and Philip Rivers are all considered great, but Brady has played in 10 more Super Bowl than they ever did.
At this point, there is no debate. There is no context or second-guessing. Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time. After this lastest Super Bowl, I would even go a step further.
Tom Brady is officially better than Michael Jordan.
Trust me, I don’t say those words lightly. Michael Jordan was so dominant when he played in the NBA. His six championship and the way he went about winning them are what put him a cut above the rest, even among players today. LeBron James is trying to catch him, but even if he goes onto win six championship, he won’t be better than Tom Brady.
Patrick Mahomes is still great. He still won a Super Bowl last year and he still put up great numbers. Nobody can take that away from him. However, even if he goes onto win seven Super Bowls throughout his career, he’ll never be greater than Tom Brady, if only because he lost to Brady when it counted.
You can hate Brady all you want for winning so much and being so dominant. You can even hate how lopsided the Super Bowl was this year. You still can’t deny the cold, hard truth.
Tom Brady has shattered what few doubts remained. He is the greatest of all time when it comes to football. I’m confident in saying that there will never be anyone as great as him, for as long as this game is played.
After the spirit-crushing, frustration inducing events of last week, I just want to say this past weekend has been a godsend for football fans. As a lifelong football fan, the past 48 hours have given me a level of football nirvana I usually don’t see outside Super Bowl Sunday.
A big reason for this is the NFL’s new playoff format that it adopted last year. Instead of 12 teams, we now get 14 teams vying to become Super Bowl champion. Now, the NFL doesn’t take change lightly and it’s usually vehemently resisted by football purists.
After this past weekend, though, I imagine those people are just as delighted as I am with the results.
Seriously, how can you not? You get a triple header on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to midnight. Then, you get another triple header of playoff football the next day that goes just as long. These are not forgetful games, either. These are the playoffs. This is the best of the best the NFL produced this season and they’re all pushing for their chance at a Super Bowl.
On top of all that football glory, it’s still not over.
Later tonight, college football will play its national championship game. I don’t follow college football as closely as I do the NFL, but even I don’t doubt that these two schools have teams stacked with NFL talent. Some of these players are very likely to be top draft picks later this spring. As a football fan who doesn’t need many more reasons to watch, this is just icing on the cake.
After a year where so many things went wrong, I just want to take a moment to appreciate everything that went right. There’s still more playoff football to come. This is just the beginning and I’m looking to enjoy every second of it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make sure my cooler is stocked with beer for tonight’s championship game.
It’s been a weird year for sports and for horrific reasons. Let’s not overlook that. This year has been horrific in general for reasons I hope I don’t have to belabor. However, it is possible for good things to come out of awful circumstances. That doesn’t make the circumstances any less awful, but a good thing is still a good thing.
For me, a lifelong football fan who builds his Sunday afternoons and Monday nights around watching football, it’s been plenty weird. Watching NFL games in front of empty stadiums has taken some getting used to. All that fake crowd noise isn’t the least bit convincing.
I think I speak for many of my fellow football fans when I say I loved this. I loved it in ways I cannot put into words without the aid of alcohol or spiked coffee.
Yes, I’m tired this morning from staying up so late.
Yes, it’s something that emerged from a bad situation.
Yes, it’s still awesome.
Two Monday Night Football games? A double-header that makes Monday’s less awful and Monday night’s more eventful? Yes, please! This is an objectively wonderful thing and I say let’s have more of it.
Sundays are great and because of NFL RedZone, football fans can plug themselves into every game for hours at a time. It’s wonderful and has made football such an engaging, day-long experience.
However, there are times in the season when there are as many as 9 or 10 games going at once at 1:00 p.m. in my time zone. Even with RedZone, it’s hard to keep up with. Some of those games deserve to be prime time games. Some of those teams would benefit from a little prime time exposure. I say this is the perfect way to do it.
Monday Night Football is already a ratings bonanza for everyone involved, regardless of how awful this year has been. Adding another game to that mix can only help add to the boon. I hope last night was a proving ground of sorts. There is room for two games on Monday night.
To the NFL, please use this as a sign. Turn this objectively terrible situation into something awesome. Football fans will thank you for years to come.
The internet and social media are wonderful. They’ve done plenty of good for the world. People have connected like never before. Knowledge, information, and personal connections have never been easier. These are objectively good things for a social species like ours.
I make that disclaimer because I’m about to talk about one of the biggest negatives that the internet has fostered. I also concede there are far worse negatives. The internet and social media have done far greater harm in certain areas, plenty of which make the news. Some of that harm is just genuinely deplorable behavior. Some is outright illegal.
However, I would argue that one of the most infuriating, yet perfectly activities that the internet has enabled is virtue signaling. I’ve bemoaned it before and for good reason. Virtue signaling is a toxic combination of narcissism, groupthink, clickbait, and trolling. Take everything you hate about the worst people on the internet. Much of it is incorporated into virtue signaling.
It’s the selfish, ego-stroking act of loudly proclaiming that you’re so in favor or opposed to something that you demand acknowledgement and affirmation from total strangers. It’s not enough to just have a strong opinion or do something that’s actually virtuous. These people need the whole goddamn world to pat them on the back and assure them they’re a special snowflake.
There are far worse ways to describe this phenomenon. For my own sanity, I’ll leave it at that. I trust my readers to fill in the blanks without breaking their computer screens. All you need to know is that virtue signaling comes in many forms. Some acts are far worse than others. Like most things on the internet, there’s a spectrum to it.
Like any meme or trending hashtag, there’s a certain range of behaviors that constitute virtue signaling. Sometimes, it’s obvious. You need only see videos and articles whining about how video games, movies, and TV shows are ruining the world by empowering the patriarchy. However, I’ve noticed one particular brand of virtue signaling that’s becoming more common.
Specifically, it comes from the people who are usually the first to whine about virtue signaling. It’s every bit as hypocritical as it sounds, and then some. Virtue signaling is bad enough, but adding hypocrisy to the mix only makes it 10 times worse.
I’ve seen more and more of this pernicious virtue signaling in recent weeks, especially as the NBA playoffs wind down and as the NFL season gets going. It shows up in Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and pretty much any poorly moderated comments section. It usually goes something like this.
“These self-entitled athletes dared to protest social issues! I’m canceling my subscription!”
“Get your damn politics out of sports! Until then, you won’t get a cent of my money!”
“Boycott this league and all the snowflake cucks who work in it!”
“I will never support a league that doesn’t stand proudly for the flag/anthem/whatever political symbol I’ve decided to champion!”
Trust me, it gets worse. It gets much worse.
At the same time, it compounds the cringe. I imagine the people making these comments don’t think they’re virtue signaling. They may see themselves as heroic underdogs resisting some nefarious foe looking to destroy them and everything they care about.
Again, these are sports leagues. They’re a business. They’re main goal is to entertain, make money, and attract the widest possible audience. Sometimes, that audience includes people who aren’t you.
That’s a concept that seems to fly over the heads of everyone who whines and complains about politics in sports, video games, comics, movies, etc. Pick any form of media. Give it any kind of controversial or political undertones, even if it’s indirect. Chances are you’ll get people who call that virtue signaling and some of those people protest by virtue signaling how much they’re against it.
They don’t always see the hypocrisy, but it’s painfully apparent at times. The biggest catalyst, in my opinion, was the very public protest by Colin Kaepernick back in 2016. He stated very clearly that he was protesting police brutality and not disrespecting the American flag or veterans. He belabored and reiterated that countless times.
It didn’t matter. A sizeable chunk of people, who I won’t identify because they make their affiliations all too clear, decided he was this anti-American radical. He didn’t just want to protest injustice. He wanted to ruin America, the NFL, and sports in general. I’ve seen many toxic comment sections and Twitter threads in my time. This was probably the worst.
Again, most of it was just virtue signaling from the other side. Everyone seemed to compete for the right to proclaim they loved America, stood for the National Anthem, and hated Colin Kaepernick with every fiber of their being. They do all of that while calling someone like Kaepernick and other players who protested with him whiny, virtue-signaling America haters.
It’s a cycle of hypocrisy that doesn’t just miss the point. It goes out of its way to avoid the actual substance of what the issue was. Remember, and I wish I didn’t have to reiterate this, the man was protesting police brutality against young black men. That’s a legitimate issue that hurts innocent people. It should be confronted.
Instead, the hypocritical virtue signalers of the internet decide to ignore that issue entirely and make it all about who loves their country and flag more. It’s the digital equivalent of a pissing contest. Everyone wants to yell how much they hate the NFL and NBA. They want everyone to know that they don’t support their league and won’t be watching any games.
First off, I don’t believe them for a second.
I suspect the people who make comments like that will get bored one day, flip through the channels, and settle on a football or basketball game. Nobody will ever call them out on it. Chances are, nobody will ever find out. They may or may not feel a twinge of guilt for the hypocrisy, but they’ll pay no price.
Second, if you go out of your way to post comments in feeds to tell the world how much you hate something, you’re not just virtue signaling. You’re being an asshole of the highest order. The NFL and NBA are not out to get you. They’re not out to destroy America. They just want to entertain and make money. Sometimes, that means catering to a diverse audience.
Certain snowflakes on certain extremes of the political spectrum may hate it. They can whine about it all they want, telling as many people as they can how they’re not going to participate. They’re still the bigger assholes here and considering the scandalous behavior of organizations like the NFL, that’s saying something.
I’m sorry if this rant is dragging, but as someone who’s genuinely excited for football season and doesn’t mind at all seeing athletes protest causes they believe in, this kind of virtue signaling just pisses me off more than most. If you hate the NFL just because they dare to raise awareness of social issues, then I don’t know what to tell you. That’s petty, shallow, and just plain stupid. Virtue signaling is bad enough. Let’s not make it worse by adding whining and hypocrisy to the mix.
It’s almost here! In less than 24 hours, I will enjoy my first of 17 doses of regular season NFL football. In a year where my excitement and optimism has been crushed at every turn, I can’t put into words how excited I am. I also can’t fully articulate how much I need this.
I love sports.
I love football.
I love building my Sundays around watching NFL football.
It’s among my favorite regular joys. Now, I understand the NFL season will be different this year. There’s also a very real chance that the pandemic could significantly impact the season. I’m already bracing for games to be cancelled, players to be benched, and scandals to unfold. If it gets really bad, there’s certainly a possibility that an entire week of NFL games could be scrapped.
That’s a nightmare scenario that the NFL has many reasons to avoid. I’m not convinced they will, but at the moment, they’re scheduled to start the season on time, albeit without full stadiums. For me, that’s good enough.
In that spirit, I’d like to share some details as to what I do every Sunday to maximize my NFL experience. Sometimes, I do mix it up, but I have a few favorite rituals that I’ve refined over the years to ensure I achieve football nirvana every time.
It all starts early on Sunday morning. I’m an early riser by nature so I’m usually up around sunrise. It usually starts like most days. I check my email. I brew some coffee. I go through any and all unfinished work I might have, be it a blog post, a short story, or a video for my YouTube channel.
Then, I go for my daily run. I always make it a point to run a little extra long on Sundays. You’ll understand why very soon. If possible, I try to squeeze in some weightlifting. That’s not always an option. In a year like this, I may have to table that.
After I work out, I take a nice long shower. I usually shave afterwards, if my beard has become unruly. Once I’m done with that, I throw on some clothes and head out to get my groceries/football supplies.
I usually try to time it so that I leave at around noon. While I’m getting my groceries, I order a pizza, usually a large with extra cheese, bacon, and pepperoni. I also make sure I get a six pack of beer, if I don’t have one in the fridge already. If everything goes smoothly, I’m usually on my way home with about 15 minutes to spare.
With those 15 minutes, I put on my most comfortable pair of pants and my favorite football jersey. I then turn on NFL Redzone, grab a beer, serve myself a slice of pizza, and take my place on the couch.
Once the action starts, I rarely leave that couch, aside from bathroom breaks and beer. For the next seven hours, I am locked in. Most of the time, I keep the TV on Redzone, but if there’s a major game on one of the networks, I’ll flip to that one every now and then.
During that time, I am the most relaxed and content person you’ll ever going to see. The feeling of watching NFL football all Sunday while drinking beer and eating pizza is just the ultimate way to cap the weekend. It’s glorious. It’s joyous. Sure, I’ll yell at the TV every now and then, but I’ll have a damn good time every step of the way.
When all is said and done, that pizza is usually half-eaten. Most of that six pack of beer is long gone. I’m full, a little drunk, and utterly satisfied with all the football I’ve consumed. This weekend, I look forward to enjoying that feeling once more. I encourage my fellow football fans out there to do the same, especially for a year like this. If you have your own Sunday ritual for NFL football, please share it in the comments. I’d love to know. I’m certainly open to new ideas for making Sunday football even better. For now, I am ready for kickoff!
Every year, just before the NFL season kicks off, I write out my predictions and picks for the season. Being a lifelong football fan, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. This year, being what it is, has added some new complications. Be that as it may, I’m still going to try. This time, though, I’m going to offer my picks through my YouTube channel, Jack’s World.
If you like this new format and would like me to make more videos like it, please let me know in the comments. Enjoy!