On the evolutionary clock, human beings are still in their infancy; scientists estimate that of the 4.54 billion years Earth has existed, man has only been stomping around a scant 195,000 years (whereas the platypus, a rather docile creature, has existed for some 80 million years).
Although "homo sapiens," a vain species if there ever was one, profess supreme superiority by citing the advancement of human civilization, it is undeniable that many of our primal aggressive animal instincts lay buried just below our civil veneer, frequently surfacing to commit atrocities a platypus would be ashamed of. Freud claimed aggression is inevitable and innate – a process void of thought patterns, and driven solely and entirely by our instincts. Thus, some men find pleasure in shooting defenseless animals, while others like to smash a white ball with a stick, and others still combine the two by smacking baby seals. Whether it is bitch-slapping a whore in Grand Theft Auto or watching Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers slice-n-dice teenagers, apparently all men need some outlet to vent our instinctual aggression.
Mine consists of watching twenty-two mutant glandular cases (often hormonally enhanced by performance drugs) wage war over, of all things, a scrap of pig hide. Football: the beautiful ballet of organized violence designed to induce spectators into a state of group temporary insanity. Grown men, otherwise logical and respectable, will scream obscenities from painted faces, beneath hats that hold beers, and feel compelled to remove their shirts in subfreezing temperatures. These are my people!
If aggression is necessary, as some scientists claim, as a means of maintaining social order, this principle is clearly illustrated in the game of football, where dominance is achieved through aggressive brute force. I confess I not only love football, I need it. I shudder to think of what crimes against humanity I might commit if I did not have football as my release valve.
For 16 weeks each year (and occasionally, the post-season) I gather before a television like a Roman at the Coliseum allowing my bloodlust to boil so it can safely drain away. I don silver & blue, and then shed all civility to go back in time and embrace my primal primitive passions with nary a shred of dignity or shame. I am addicted to these afternoons of legal lunacy because when the final whistle blows, regardless of the outcome, I find the day-to-day frustrations and thwarted desires of modern life just a little bit easier to endure.
Although some men of science debate if aggression is a matter of nature or nurture, I can attest that the passion I have for my aggression outlet has nothing to do with my upbringing. My father was one of the rare men who have zero interest in sports. Many years after his death, my dear mother made the mistake of remarrying on December 28th, only to discover that her new husband, like most men, wanted to watch the football bowl games that take place this time of year. By the time he got to the Rose Bowl four days later, my mother officially became a football widow and had her marriage annulled. True story.
Unlike my father, football has always been my guilty pleasure of choice (to this day I will not allow the girl I’m dating to see me watch a football game unless I’m certain it will not end our relationship). I recall, one August, asking my (then) wife if there was anything she "wanted to discuss before football season started?" I doubt a lingerie-clad Kate Upton could fully keep my attention once I hear the opening notes to the National Anthem.
Football embodies all the principles that make America great!
The freedom of speech allows me to shout slanderous statements at strangers. The freedom of the press allows newspapers in places where gambling is illegal to publish the NFL betting lines. The freedom of religion is evident when a field goal kicker can be like Billy Graham and make 90,000 people jump to their feet and shout, "Jesus Christ!" Football promotes equality by being the great economic level, where the poverty stricken can find solace watching millionaires get hurt for their entertainment. God bless football!
People of high moral and spiritual character denounce hate in all forms, but I politely beg to differ. The full enjoyment of the sport is twofold: the love of your favorite team combined with the unabashed hate-fest for their rivals… and their fans. I can not begin to express the joy I feel when witnessing the misfortunes of a team I hate. I confess my wrath is not limited to the field of play, as mentioned above, my aggression is directed to fans as well; I can see some poor guy trip and fall flat on his face and immediately feel concern and compassion, however, if he is wearing a Philadelphia Eagles jersey, I confess I get an uncontrollable urge to giggle with glee.
The limits of my ire are not bound by time; I do not hate from opening kickoff till final gun, I hate for eternity. Whenever I read of a former player for one of the handful of teams I despise running afoul of the law I feel the same pleasure I imagine the family members of a murder victim must feel when they watch the criminal sizzle in the electric chair. For when my team loses they do so for one reason: the other team cheated; each time a yellow flag hits the turf I am quick to proclaim at the top of my lungs "That team cheats!" So when one of them eventually gets arrested I feel overdue justice is finally being served.
I also confess that to me, football is like dancing, I enjoy it more when I am not sober. And drinking is also like dancing, I enjoy it more with others involved. I have no problem getting people to join me because I have friends who have confessed they attend my football parties not to watch the game, but to watch my outrageously shameful behavior (the same mentality as the folks that go to a car race just to see a crash). I will slur vulgar insults at the TV and wish extreme ill-will on the opposing team’s players (and their mothers) all to the giddy delight of those around me. For those who doubt the notoriety of my football parties, let me point out that the television show, Good Morning America, once placed a full camera crew in my living room to record my reactions to the Super Bowl. True story.
I confess I often take my verbal abuse too far and do something I am deeply ashamed of: I cheer injuries. Not career-ending injuries, but game-ending ones that might increase my team’s odds at victory. I freely admit this cruel habit is horrid. I especially cheer the self-inflicted injury because it questions the player’s intelligence, or rather, lack thereof. One of my cherished memories was watching a Redskins quarterback celebrate a touchdown by head-butting the end zone wall, causing him to sit out the remainder of the game with a neck sprain. I’m getting a chuckle just writing about it.
So this is my confession in black and white for all to see: for three hours on Sunday I do a Jekyll and Hyde transformation into a mean-spirited loudmouth Neanderthal. Perhaps you know someone like me? Maybe it’s you? If by chance you support the Dallas Cowboys, I hope you know I consider us family, forever bound. But if by chance you root for the New York Giants, frankly, I am surprised you can read.
Are you ready for some football?