Final day

Today is the final day of the regular season in the National Football League. It’s a strange moment, because for the first year all of my fantasy leagues are finished. All there is left to do is watch with a bit of an detachment. I wrote the following last week: It’s weird watching football with absolutely nothing at stake. I feel like a football atheist showing up to church.

Because I go to the same place nearly every Sunday (hey, we can’t be perfect) and do the same thing, my Sunday ritual is kind of like my church. I go to the Don Funk Sports Grill, drop my belongings and plug in my laptop. We put together lunch, which more often than not is onion burgers with cheddar. We eat two each because we can. The beer starts flowing. We discuss watching individual games but usually stick with the Red Zone. I don’t know what we’ll do without Don obsessing about his fantasy team all day. We may have to draft a team just for today. Are there any Week 17 leagues?

Nine of today’s 16 games have playoff implications, although that’s a high number. The only one I want to watch is the Titans/Seahawks game, because I want to see CJ go for 2,000. I even had a dream that I was watching the game. At the end of the third quarter he had just 60 yards, although to be fair in my dream they were playing the Dolphins.

I dig the ritual, and at least there are upcoming playoff games so we can get used to the idea of Sunday without football. I dig the irony that because the NFL season is so short (shortest of the major sports), we crave it that much more when it’s there. It means more to us.

Even though my team let me down this year, I enjoyed the season immensely. I got to see a historic season by a running back. I witnessed a near-impossible comeback act by a much-maligned quarterback. I realized how short a championship window can be. The cool part about each NFL season is that it’s unique. You’ll never see the same story twice. You may get sick of the same teams on or near the top, but there are always teams that under- or overachieve. In the end, only one can be champion. On Sunday, we all feel like winners. Unless our team loses, then we feel like crap for far longer than is sane.

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