Between attending a wedding and performing various work-related activities, I didn’t get a whole lot of time this past Sunday to do what I usually do on Sundays in the fall, park myself in front of the television to a big ol’ helping of NFL football.
A few weeks back, in my column, I wrote about the impact that fantasy football has on my life and the lives of countless others during a 17-week stretch from September to December. But perhaps no time is that felt as much as the day it all matters most—Sundays.
It used to be Sunday football was a leisurely activity. A Dagwood sandwich, stretching out on the couch watching a local affiliate broadcast of the local team, maybe catching a nap right before the half only to wake up when things got good late in the fourth quarter.
With the rise of fantasy football—and the advent of the Red Zone channel—NFL Sundays have taken on a new life. From about 12 p.m. on, my apartment becomes something akin to a war room.
There are usually about four or five guys spread out, laptops in tow, scouring the Internet for last-second scratches, any rumors that might help them fill that WR/RB flex spot in the lineup, anything that will give them an edge against that week’s opponent.
Once the lineups are set and the games start, the room doesn’t get any less hectic. Yes, the sandwiches are still there—usually provided by Mona Lisa’s in Eastchester or Lange’s of Bronxville—but football watching is no passive activity.
Being a Giants household, Big Blue always takes precedence—at least until there’s a stoppage in play for more than 10 seconds. If you happen to be the man with the remote, you need to be prepared, at a moment’s notice, to switch channels to the other game or to the Red Zone Channel.
God forbid you have a slow trigger finger or you slip up and wind up watching five seconds of the Lifetime Network instead of a crucial third-down situation in the Chargers game; your remote privileges will be revoked as torrents of derision are hurled in your direction by the rest of the football fanatics.
From the 1 p.m. games to the 4 p.m. starts all the way through Sunday Night Football, we watch each play, as fractions of points are added or subtracted to and from each guy’s fantasy tally. By the time the crew breaks up around 11:30 p.m., each participant seems a hollowed out husk of himself; eyes glazed over, stomachs aching from gameday snacking, all uncertain about how fit we will be to re-enter the workforce on Monday morning.
Last Sunday was nothing like that for me.
I was outside, in the sun, playing baseball, doing errands, and conversing with other people—essentially acting like a full-fledged human. Aside from the second half of the Giants-Cowboys game, I didn’t catch much of anything and didn’t even care. I didn’t check my phone once, didn’t ask for updates, and woke up on Monday feeling refreshed and ready to face the work week. In short, it was a glorious day devoid of any obsessive football behavior.
I’ve got 16 more weeks to lose myself in the NFL season. In the grand scheme of things, what’s one week away from the sport?
My fantasy team tasted bitter defeat.
I’ll be back on the couch next week for sure.
Follow Mike on Twitter, @LiveMike_Sports