Technically, football season isn’t over until after the Super Bowl. But for me it came with the Seahawks’ crushing loss to the Cardinals at home on New Year’s Eve. Sure, I watched the playoffs. But the off-season blues had already started to kick in. Transitioning into the off-season is always a dreary ordeal for me, especially this year as my team didn’t even get into the playoffs. (I mean. I can’t even. WTF?) The first few Sundays are always particularly gloomy. I wake up in the morning, shuffle around the kitchen and stare out the window while the coffee is brewing. There is a palpable void. Existential angst, which was so successfully held at bay for four months, starts to poke at me. I move through my day adrift, unsettled and destitute of purpose. Even the Sunday paper is feeble distraction as sports writers have moved on to the NBA coverage and stories about the upcoming baseball season. Eventually, over time, the ache subsides and I fall into new routines and activities. But the initial withdrawal is punishing.
I figure I’m not alone and that lot of other fans have the same experience. They say that one way to deal with personal pain is to focus on giving to others. In the spirit of service to my fellow fans, I’ve put together a list of six tips for dealing with the off-season blues:
- Geek out on the finer points of the game. Elevate your football IQ! There are a multitude of resources available. Watch Bill Walsh videos on You Tube. Learn more about the West Coast Offense and footwork for quarterbacks. Read books by Pat Kerwin and Chris B. Brown. Check out the NFL’s Football 101 tutorials.
- Attendant with number one on the list, read the NFL rule book. You can download it here on the NFL website. It will clear up all those calls you’ve been fuzzy about. Study carefully over the summer. By the start of the 2018 season, you can dazzle your fellow fans with your expertise and settle arguments as to whether a penalty was legitimate or not.
- Pay attention to off-season activities like the NFL combine and the draft. It’s awesome fun! Last year, I was sick with bronchitis during the draft. I laid on the couch with the draft on the television and my laptop propped on my stomach. I watched the proceedings and looked up player stats. It was fascinating, and I learned a ton.
- If you have a PlayStation, play Madden. You can run through the playbooks for every team in the NFL and bone up on your understanding of offensive and defensive schemes. Admittedly, it helps if you’re a gamer and have the requisite thumb dexterity hardwired into your muscle memory. Lack of controller skills has limited my success with Madden. However, I’m proud to say I did manage to sack Tom Brady three times in a single game once. Boo-rah!
- Join some football fan pages/groups on Facebook. Even though it’s the off-season, there will be plenty of banter and football memes to keep you occupied for the next few months. But do tread carefully. Inevitably, every group of this sort has a handful of NFL boycotters– still angry over the National Anthem situation–who regularly troll NFL pages to remind everyone that they’re boycotting the NFL. All they want is trouble and they’re instantaneous buzz killers.
- Check out other sports. Of course, for some fans, this is a no brainer. For these types, there really isn’t such a thing as an off-season. They just switch sports. But for the football monogamist, this option might not even be on the radar. It may feel a little bit like a stranger in a strange land situation, but try it anyway. I’ve enjoyed more than a few pleasant evenings at a Mariners game. Going even more local–like high school basketball–has a sweet, almost nostalgic appeal. The goal is to feel better. There’s comfort in the distraction of other sports. There’s also potential.
So, it’s the Patriots (again) and the Eagles in the Super Bowl this year. Of course, I’ll watch the game. I’m of the opinion that any football is better than no football. Still, it will be a lot like watching a movie I’ve seen before, many times. I’m rooting for the Eagles, but my money’s on the Patriots. No matter who wins, the fan bases are equally insufferable. Either way, we’ll never hear the end of it… until next season. GO HAWKS!