We hate NFL, but we can't stop watching

August 07, 1994|By JOHN EISENBERG

Well, here we sit, wallowing in our hatred of the NFL, armed like soldiers of fortune with our nameless three-down team and our Darth Vader Tagliabue posters and our gleeful, unprintable chants.

They can keep kicking sand in our face, but we can keep hating them, right? No one hates the NFL like we hate the NFL, right? Lemme hear you say, "yeaaaaaah!"

OK, so what do we do now that the NFL season is getting ready to start?

Hmm.

Small problem, huh?

If we could remain loyal to our hearts, we'd pay no attention. We'd laugh at the first minute of a Cowboys-Redskins broadcast, proudly surf on over to the "Dragnet" reruns and settle in for an afternoon of hippie-busting.

Give the NFL what it gave us, in other words. The back of the hand.

But that isn't going to happen.

You know it.

I know it.

We all know exactly what's going to happen.

We're going to watch.

Because, you know, we like to watch.

Because pro football Sundays are simply too ingrained, too much a matter of routine.

(I know, I know, not for everyone. Baseball snobs are excused from this discussion. You can go back to your pastoral simplicity and your Don Fehr. Oh, and parents of young children also are excused. We understand that you can't watch anything for more than five minutes.)

Yes, we'll wind up watching the NFL because it is going to be there and baseball might not be and, let's face it, life is complicated enough without taking pouty, little stands over something going down in the toy department.

Because, as homogenized and corporate and boring as the NFL has become, we can't get around the fact that the NFL's brand of ball is far superior to the CFL's.

Sure, it would be great to stand tall and proclaim that we don't need Dallas and Washington when we're up to our "Tagliabue bleeps" T-shirts in rouges and Roughriders. And sure, NFL fever will never approach the level it did when the Colts played here.

But ignore the NFL?

Get serious.

Barry by-golly Switzer, the king of the wishbone, is going to try to coach the Cowboys to a third straight Super Bowl title. It's the most bizarre thing happening in sports this year. And you're not going to check it out?

Buddy Ryan, who would be the love child of John Wayne and Madonna if John Wayne and Madonna had ever had a love child, is a head

coach again, finally off the blackball list. And you're not interested? Not in the least?

The Redskins, the team we love/hate, are starting over with a new coach and a new quarterback. And you don't want to cheer/boo their losses?

Oh, and Jimmy Johnson is carrying his big hair over to Fox this year. You don't even want to peek?

Sure, you do.

We all do.

Listen, let's just admit a few things and make our lives easier, OK?

We hate the NFL, but mostly out of frustration. We'd cheer like fools if the Rams announced tomorrow that they were moving here. We can live without the NFL, but that doesn't mean we don't still want the NFL.

We do.

Because it's the real thing. The major leagues.

Sure, the new team in town, the CFLs, is a fine substitute. Lots of points, lots of fun. They'll no doubt eat into the NFL-watching crowd, particularly when they start playing Sunday afternoon games in the fall.

But the NFL is not going away. And a lot of us are going to watch. And maybe even care a little.

Just go ahead and admit it to yourself now. Admit it to your friends. It'll save you some trouble and embarrassment in the fall. You won't have to pull down the blinds to turn on an NFL game. You won't have to tell a fib ("No, I'm not watching, I'm working on a science project") when your Tagliabue-hating buddy calls.

If you confess now, you can tell the truth and watch the NFL in peace. You can go ahead and, you know, just view it.

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