After being an NFL fan since I could remember and a hardcore fantasy football GM and league commissioner for the past 12 years, Jeff Bogle gave it all up after the 2012 season.
Truth be told, I expected this to be far more difficult.
I happen to find myself outside of Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, April 25th, the night of the opening round of the NFL draft. I walked past the police barricades and TV crews, with a crew of my own, a gaggle of kindie musicians and interest parties, on our way to find a bite to eat after a recording session inside the SiriusXM fishbowl studio, high above the street level celeb gawker action.
In any previous year, I’d have been giddy to be exactly right there when the top college athletes were being plucked up by teams with needs in the backfield and along the defensive line.
Yet on this night, I didn’t give two shits.
Things certainly had changed.
After being an NFL fan since I could remember and a hardcore fantasy football GM and league commissioner for the past 12 years, I gave it all up after the 2012 season. As a frame of reference, I am a guy who once flew to Kansas City with his 6-month pregnant wife to watch his favorite player at the time (thanks to that fortuitous 4th round fantasy draft pick the year he burst onto the scene), Priest Holmes, live and in person. We then quickly flew to St. Louis for the Sunday Night Football game that very same day, before another flight and a decent drive to Chicago and Green Bay respectively for the Monday Night Football game at Lambeau — 3 games, 3 cities, 3 flights, and 2 rentals cars in less than 36 hours. Yeah, we were super fans of the sport. But my fantasy game addiction has, I surmised, slowly destroyed my ability to enjoy a game, any game, in its entirety and the sport of American football itself with its escalating off-season police blotter, on-field head-injuries, and dubious cover-ups by the league offices finally left me colder than the Cleveland Dawg Pound in December.
Now that I am removed from it all, I see just how boring watching football actually is — 45% of passes fall to the ground, half of the rushes end in a heap after little to no ground gained, erroneous whistles blown, tedious referee video reviews, mind-numbingly inane beer commercials, and lots and lots of standing around in between it all. And the hours I spent watching every single televised game and analyzing my fantasy teams ad nauseam…I cannot even begin to quantify and comprehend what that figure is.
So this fall, my first devoid of NFL appointment viewing on my calendar, will be filled with the following instead:
- Watching Messi, Neymar, Cesc and their FC Barcelona teammates plow through the 100 million Euro man Gareth Bale, Ronaldo and Real Madrid, and rest of La Liga this season. While most European football matches happen in the AM here in the States, thus offering the distinct benefit of relatively free weekend days, the Spanish league annoyingly fancies 9 and even 10pm local kickoffs which means Barcelona is often on television in the middle of a Sunday afternoon on the East Coast. Important note: every soccer match is completed in under 2 hours. A far cry from the bloated, TV commercial haven that is an NFL contest.
- Becoming an avid book reader again. I just finished Dan Gets a Minivan and now have my sights set on the entire Dan Zevin back catalog. I’ll also be reading One Last Thing Before I Go, The Dog Stars, and Tom Perrotta’s forthcoming collection of short stories, Nine Inches, which sounds vaguely football related, or maybe impressive penis related but is, in actuality, neither.
- Spending a portion of my fantasy football entry fee on a home delivery subscription to the Sunday New York Times. They send me their limited 50% off deals every single week (very limited time offer!) and now’s a damn good time to take them up on it. I feel smarter already.
- Baking and cooking for the week ahead. Since being rushed to the ER last week with alarming blood pressure levels (how’s 199 over 119 sound?), I have adopted a new, much less salty way of cooking. I’m feeling great, thanks for asking, but unfortunately, thanks to insane amounts of sodium in every.fucking.thing, I will be making far more foods from scratch than ever before.
- Being physically active outside. For me, fall, with its brisk 50-degree afternoons, has always been the best time of year to be out of doors, even though, thanks to football on TV, that hasn’t actually been the case for much of my life. This autumn, I envision leaves falling, sneakers crunching, and air crisp while I rake giant leaf piles for the girls and I to jump into. There will also be the kicking around of soccer balls, fine-tuning my youngest daughter’s powerful t-ball swing, and shooting our Z-Curve Air Huntress Bow & Arrows back and forth over the roof of the house. In general, not spending hours sitting on my ass.
- Watching more movies. Sunday and Monday nights will now be snuggle-up-make-out-movie-time for the wifey and I. The DVR is full of primo stuff waiting to be watched, and we’ll also barrel through all the best movies Redbox, Netflix, and Amazon Prime has to offer like Adrian Peterson through the Lions paper-thin run defense.
- Writing. With the roughly 200 hours of free time I’ve just carved out for myself (not including playoff weekends in the new year), I will be hard at work on finishing some of my half-started, half-baked, half-brilliant book ideas.
—photo by Dave Parker/Flickr