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Jon Mark Beilue column - Posted August 25, 2017 10:19 a.m.
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Artwork by Andy Chase Cundiff

Goodbye dear, football season is here

Every year as late August finally – and I mean, finally – arrives and bleeds into September, the same question overcomes me: What in the world did I do with my weekends for nearly the last nine months?

The answer is I’m not really sure, but I must have done something.

Let’s see, Friday nights I went out to dinner with my wife. Saturdays, I ran in the morning with the same aging guys I have for years, but as for the rest of the day, I can’t say for sure what filled it. Sunday, there was church, but then, I don’t know, probably looked at my phone or something the rest of the afternoon.

But now, I don’t have that problem. Now, I have something constructive, something meaningful, something impactful, something life-altering.

I have football.

I have somehow made it through the off-season. Annually, it’s like the swallows of San Juan Capistrano, who leave 6,000 miles for winter only to return five months later, that’s the way it is for me and football.

Let me breathe in the air of the approaching fall and the first kickoffs. Let me plan my road trip schedules and make sure the oil is changed. Let me loosen my fingers and gear up for the first critical comments to be posted on my favorite fan message boards.

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Oh brother, just another Neanderthal one-dimensional male who yells at the TV for hours with Cheetos dust on his fingers and salsa on his football jersey,” to which I say, no, not totally.

For the record, the last football jersey I wore was the last game of my high school career in 1975. There’s something a little weird about adult men putting on their favorite team’s jersey at a game or simply to watch them on TV.

I don’t care if it’s your lucky jersey or not. Find another good luck charm. Anyone wearing a jersey who is over the age of, say, 30, is a little odd. It’s almost as bad as going to the horse races and wearing jockey silks. Leave the jerseys for the kids.

I don’t yell much and cheer very little. It probably comes from a lifetime of the no-cheering-in-the-pressbox golden rule from my sportswriting days. Now, I may let loose with a “Yeah!” every once in a while, but even then, I feel like I’m betraying the former brotherhood.

As for the rest, I’m probably guilty, though I have become more aware of lingering Cheetos stains. But I make no apology about it. It is what it is – this lifelong addiction to football.

It could be worse. To rationalize this to my wife, I turn it into a worst case either/or scenario: “Honey, would you rather I be some meth- and porn-addicted loser who verbally abuses you while squandering our money and any semblance of a future, or would you rather I hog the TV and watch Alabama-LSU tonight?”

That answer is simple. I did some quick figuring as to how many hours a week I devote to football. The answer is somewhere between zero – which would be if I were in a coma – and 23 – which is if I weren’t.

That did take me back a bit. That’s nearly a complete day out of one week. That seems a little wasteful, but I take a measure of comfort in the thought that millions are doing the same thing.

I started breaking it down. I’ve been doing high school football on the radio on Fridays for way too long, so until the FCC does the area a favor and bans me, that’s three hours.

On Saturdays, that’s roughly six. That’s two games or so, though that can be limited by driving to Lubbock for Texas Tech home games.

On Sundays, maybe eight hours or so, which is all or good portions of three games. On Mondays and Thursdays, three hours apiece.

People used to ask me if I missed football when I left the sports department, to which I say I actually see more games than ever. As sports editor, I was in the office all the time, trying to put out a section.

By the time we completed our 100-plus-page high school football monstrosity by Aug. 20 or so – the male sportswriter equivalent of giving birth – no one wanted to think about football for two weeks. Since leaving, I annually start crossing out days on the calendar starting each July 4.

Look, all I know is it could be worse. At least I no longer play in any Fantasy Football leagues. It’s important to have balance in your life.

by Jon Mark Beilue

Jon Mark Beilue is an award-winning columnist for AGN Media. He can be reached at jon.beilue@amarillo.com or (806) 345-3318.
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