It’s an exciting time in America. No, I’m not talking about the shit-circus that is the election. Quite frankly, I’m still hoping an extinction-level meteor makes a late entry and sweeps that race. I’m referring instead to the return of America’s 2nd favorite form of violence. After months of waiting, after months of speculating, after months of combing blogs run by diabetic 35-year-olds just to satiate the void its absence left our lives, football’s finally back. As we all re-up our various streaming subscriptions, change our homepages, dust off jerseys, and resupply our tailgate trailers, I think it’s important to remember a few things. Yes, fandom is a beautiful thing, but please, enjoy football responsibly.
I know it’s tough to go so long with no football drama to entertain you. Last year the NCAA and NFL were fraught with enough on and off-the-field stories to fuel a dozen more season of Ballers. But that doesn’t mean you need to go around peddling the slightest conspiracy like a pamphlet seller on the grassy knoll. Even the analysts don’t get most of their speculations right, and they have personal access to the players and front-office staff. What makes you think you, the guy who’s getting this information anywhere from second to tenth hand, has any business peddling drama? You don’t. Stop harassing your coworkers and everyone on social media with your full-baked nonsense. I get you’re bored, but that doesn’t give you license to write football fiction.
The same goes for all of you currently frothing at the mouth to let me know how your fantasy team did. When it comes to fantasy teams, think about them like pets and children. If they’re not theirs, no one gives a shit about them. Back when I did fantasy I loved to pull up that lineup and move players like a general moving battle fronts. I relished plumbing the depths of free agency to find a third-string receiver that’d just got called up in the hopes he’d go off for double digits. But you know what? Nobody cared that I was doing all that. At the same time I was fancying myself the next Jerry Jones (without all the racism and skeletons in the closet) so was literally everyone else with a fantasy team. People don’t join a league because they want to hear about your terrible roster decisions. They want to make their own. Remember that the next time you think it’s a good idea to hijack your coworker in the elevator and regale them with how if Julio Jones had just caught those three touchdown passes, you’d have gotten the 47 points you needed to win.
While we’re on the subject of role playing and fantasy, it’s time to stop using football as an excuse to fantasize being young and responsibility free. We all love to cut loose. We all love to let alcohol numb our brain from all our life’s obligations. But taking every Saturday and Sunday to blackout whilst hemorrhaging your money on tailgating, gambling, and tickets you can’t afford is not only an unhealthy way to cope with your misery, it’s also a great way to lose any meaningful relationships and be left with nothing but a bunch of fellow degenerates who’re also incapable of caring for themselves. It’s all well and good to get blitzed at Alumni weekend, or to celebrate the upset with a couple heavy pours of whiskey into the tumbler, but please, stop justifying your substance abuse and tendency to make an ass of yourself with sports.
And speaking of unhealthy coping, we need to talk about those of you hedging your existential validation on the success of the team you like. As terrifying as it is, we’re all getting to that age when the superstars of the teams we support are either our age or younger. Do you really want to be the guy whose entire life’s meaning relies on the performance of younger strangers? Stop projecting your inability to make yourself happy onto a bunch of young men who will never meet you. And please, for the love of God, stop harassing them on social media. I’m not just talking about spewing insults and takes, though Lord knows after seeing how many people handled Andrew Luck’s retirement they definitely need to work on that. I’m talking to those of you tweeting at recruits and players. If you’re tweeting at a recruit, who ninety-nine percent of the time is a minor, you need to go to jail. Period. And while you can’t go to jail for insulting a player on social media, you should definitely be locked in a room with them and forced to read them your tweets. Do not harass players on social media. It’s creepy, it’s desperate, and it makes you look like a miserable old loser who needs a younger man to make him happy.
Am I saying you shouldn’t enjoy football? Of course not. I plan to dive headfirst into Texas A&M’s and the Cowboys’s seasons. I’m going to throw out uninformed takes, engage in internet shit talking, and get too emotionally invested. But just like I’m not going to go to the bar and pound a fistful of Jaeger shots before shotgunning a beer, I’m not going to tweet at Kellen Mond while taking a break from assaulting my coworker’s ear about why there’s no reason I should be in fifth place in my league. Everything in moderation, especially football.