June 06, 2006

All Football, All the Time

I HAVEN’T been a good blogger lately and for that I am sorry. I’ve been busy with work and home and trying to eat properly and switching dry cleaners, among other things, and all-in-all it’s taken my blogging energy and stomped it into little tiny shreds. That, and I realized I’m suffering from a considerably advanced case of football drought, and also slowly becoming the type of embittered, wretched, hubristic person one frequently encounters in James Clavell novels.

The good news, though, is that I’ve found a fix for the football drought problem.

I realize the idea of a football drought may seem a bit much to some. After all, few seem to talk about a baseball drought, even during the winter. Even fewer talk about a basketball drought, given the length of the NBA’s playoffs. As for a hockey drought, although the true fans suffered mightily, no one else really minded when the NHL cancelled its 2004-2005 season.

But football, at least for me and many others, is different. Both the professional and collegiate seasons only run in earnest from early September through the New Year, and while the January playoffs are exciting, the end of the Super Bowl in early February marks the start of several long football-free months. No Michigander can be expected to suffer this way, especially a Michigander with deep family roots in Western Pennsylvania, and an extended family with strong loyalties to their respective teams in the AFC North (except Baltimore, which can rot in perdition along with Art Modell, the scoundrel).

However, I was fortunate. After doing some research, I found that soon after the Super Bowl ends, I can start watching minor-league football, courtesy of the Arena Football League and the NFL Europe development league. That will keep me going all the way through June, when I can start watching the Canadian Football League, plus see a few live games of the Manchester Wolves squad, which is a team in the arenafootball2 league, the AFL’s minor league. These games will get me through until the NFL and NCAA start up again, thus ensuring all football, all the time.

Yet this solution also presents a dilemma: what teams am I supposed to root for?

Some decisions are easy. For instance, Manchester has its own af2 team, so I clearly have to root for them. The Canadian league also makes it easy. I mean, what Midwesterner couldn’t support the Saskatchewan Roughriders? They’re from Saskatchewan, for God’s sake. That’s reason enough. Besides, think of the Roughriders’ fans out on the wind-blasted steppe! Think about little Johnny out in Flin Flon, who lives and breathes the Roughriders and whose dream is –

READER: Isn’t Flin Flon in Manitoba?

Not now, I’m on a roll. Anyway, think about little Johnny, who yearns to someday earn thousands of (Canadian) dollars per year making crucial third downs and scoring a rouge here or there for the green and white. I mean, you just can’t ignore that cultural impact. Also, Saskatchewan went .500 in the 2005 season, so it’s not like I’m jumping on the coat-tails of an especially good team. In my book, that would be as dishonorable as rooting for the Oakland Raiders or saying nice things about Jerry Jones.

But what do I do regarding NFL Europe, where nearly all the teams are in Germany? My traditional mindset would have me root for the one non-German team in the league, the Amsterdam Admirals. The trouble is, the Admirals are one of the best teams in the league, which means I can’t start supporting them now. As for the German teams, I would normally side with Frankfurt, since that’s closest to the Ancestral Home of the Kepples. But they’re a good team too, so now they’re out as well. About all I have left, when one takes into account geographical and performance factors, are the Cologne Centurions. They may not be the best team in NFL Europe, but they sure have the best name.

As for the Arena Football League – well, that was easier than I thought. It turns out the city of Grand Rapids, an hour north of my old home town, has an Arena Football League team: the Grand Rapids Rampage. They were last in their division this year, with a crummy but not hideous 5-11 record. I don’t know if I’ll get to see them on television much, but then again, I don’t get to see the Steelers all that much either, so I’m used to it. Football, even if it means watching certain teams I don't especially like every week, is still football.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 6, 2006 09:58 PM | TrackBack
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