Football Phonies

For those of you who don’t already know, I generally watch football alone. For years, I was anal about watching alone. I don’t know why — I guess I just had a routine and an expectation that every game had to be perfect, which meant that I had to watch with utter focus. Lately, I have relaxed on this issue dramatically.

In past years, watching football on Thanksgiving was like walking through a landmine field for me. My family hosts Thanksgiving, which means the room is always full of grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, and cousins and cousins’ spouses. Watching the NFL with family this year was a breeze, thanks to my more relaxed outlook on life. By learning to watch with others, I was finally able to slay the dragon that is the football phony.

What is a football phony? This description should clarify it for you: I have a cousin who is married to a guy named Curt. Watching the Jets-Cowboys game on Thanksgiving, anyone who walked into our living room would think Curt was practicing for a studio analyst job. You might hear something like this: “Geeze — the Jets are terrible; the Dallas players must be saying ‘Wow, this is so easy!’ Look how terrible the Jets are — they’re kicking off again!” (Of course, what he meant was, the Jets were punting.)

Or, you may hear something like this from Curt: “So Andy, who’s going to the Super Bowl this year?” Pauses, waits for answer. You answer, then, from his next response, realize he had absolutely no intention of actually listening to your answer. He immediately says: Yeah, my Rams have no shot at getting there this year. God they sure are terrible (there’s that word “terrible” again). I was actually hoping this past week that they would have lost just so we can get the first pick in the draft.

Credit Curt for understanding the NFL drafting order process, but dock him points for having the thick-headedness to even bring up the Rams one sentence after bringing up the Super Bowl. And dock him extra points for wishing his own team had lost; I can’t stand that kind of fandom — especially in November when there are still a lot of games to be played.

Are you getting the picture? Are you starting to understand what a football phony is?

Good. There is one other type of football phony — we’ll call it the fan phony. The fan phony is the guy who watches the game but only when he’s around family. In other words, he pretty much watches only on Thanksgiving. The fan phony does not follow the NFL. He may claim something like how he’s a Broncos fan, but only because he once liked John Elway. Whenever he tells you who his favorite team is, he follows it up by saying “How they doin’ this year?”

He clearly knows nothing about the game. Yet, in a group setting, the fan phony recognizes what team the knowledgeable fans are rooting for, so, just to be obnoxious, he roots against that team. Example: growing up, I always rooted for Dallas. This past Thanksgiving, the fan phony at our house became an avid Jets fan.

The fan phonies think they’re stirring the pot and being a part of the group by rooting against the real fan’s favorite team. What the fan phony is actually doing is irritating the hell out of everyone while highlighting his own embarrassing ignorance.

This past Thanksgiving, I was thankful for having learned how to deal with watching football around other people. I’ll never go out of my way to watch with others, for fear that I’ll encounter more football phonies or fan phonies. But, given that people of this ilk are a dime a dozen (and, therefore, unavoidable), I sure am glad I’ve learned to tolerate them in small doses.


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