Others use it as a day of worship.
I do that. Although instead of praying to God, I go to a different kind of house.
It’s a sports bar with 37 TVS, friendly waitresses, really good food, and diehard fans wearing jerseys of varying colors.
On Sundays in the autumn, I watch six hours of NFL football. It is a religion of sorts to me; I worship at the altar of pro football.
I can’t wait for this Sunday, week 1 of the 2009 NFL season. Wait, let me rephrase that. I CAN NOT WAIT. I love everything about football Sundays. I love waking up late, around 11 or so, and starting to think about the New York Jets game that day.
I love eating, showering and then slipping on my dark green Wayne Chrebet No. 80 Jets jersey, my go-to gameday attire for the last 10 years (last year I switched to a Brett Favre jersey in a fit of temporary blind love, but I’m sure Wayne understood).
I love arriving at the bar (where, to my wife’s endless amusement, I was referred to as “Jets Fan” on my tab until they learned my name) and looking where my beloved green and white will be playing. It’s a strategic thing, really; I hope the Jets are on one of the four TVs side by side above the bar; that way I can watch four games at once without really having to move.
(On a related note, I don’t get why women don’t understand this, but yes, men can watch four games at once. We’ve been trained over the years and we know the rhythms of our games that we can really, truly be looking at all of them at once and not miss anything big.)
I love seeing the same people every week, and learning their tendencies; the old Steelers fan who downs Coors Light while yelling that they should throw to Heath Miller more; the collection of 20-something Giants fans, who are never happy even when the Giants are winning; the four 70-something Bills fans who don’t really even get excited anymore, and take even small joys (“Hey, a 10-yard pass”) as reasons for hope.
And then there is my favorite group, a co-ed mix of about six Washington Redskins fans who look like they remember when Sonny Jurgensen was a rookie.
I don’t want to say they’re old, but I swear one guy told me he remembers that Red Grange kid from high school.
They’re grumpy sometimes (hey, look at the Redskins’ record the last 10 years), but bless their hearts, every time the Redskins score a touchdown they break into a rousing chorus of “Hail to the Redskins.” And sometimes, they look so joyous, I want to join in.
This is what I call my Sunday family, and even if we don’t know each other’s last names (or sometimes, first names), I look forward to spending time with them 17 Sundays a year.
My Sunday family has seen me yell and scream and throw stuff, and have sometimes come over to cheer me up when the Jets (invariably) break my heart again.
My wife came to the bar once with me; after 10 minutes she looked around and had the same expression on her face that a caveman would have upon encountering an iPod: Utter, sheer bewilderment.
And so Sunday it starts again. I know, truly, that for the 40th straight year someone besides the Jets will win the Super Bowl.
And I know, in my 34-year-old brain, that it’s kind of silly I wear a football jersey and hat and scream and yell for three hours at other men I don’t even know.
But I don’t care. It’s fall, it’s Sunday, and for a few hours I get to act like a kid again.
1 p.m. can’t get here fast enough.
P.S. If for some reason you’re curious, my Super Bowl pick for this year is Baltimore vs. Green Bay; I just don’t think the Steelers can repeat, New England has lost too much on defense, and I’m not sold on either the Colts (no running game) or San Diego (Norv Turner is their coach, no more needs to be said).
And for my beloved Jets, I see somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7, and no playoff spot. I hope I’m very wrong, but rookie quarterback plus rookie coach doesn’t spell championship to me.