back to the Black Table
     
  A SUPER WASTE OF TIME? A SUPER FUN THING TO WATCH? FIVE WOMEN WAX OFF ON THE SUPER BOWL  
   
   
 

Theresa O’Rourke

Like most people, I occasionally do and say things I don't mean when under the influence of alcohol. Usually, my inebriated antics don't come back to bite me in the ass. That is, until I met Andrew. At a bar, of course.

He was tall, with nice lips and big brown eyes. He had sent me over a drink, and we started talking -- mostly about my Queens neighborhood and our jobs. He was a broker, and I told him that I worked in magazine publishing. We must have been talking for about two hours, and I had put down about five Amstel Lights. In between our boozin' and bullshittin', the bartender asked Andrew if he was ready for the Raiders to give the Jets a good ass-whoppin'. (This was two weeks ago, right before the Jets played the Raiders.)

That's when I said it. "Ah, so you're a long-suffering Jets fan, eh? Me too."

Up to that point, he seemed to like me just fine. Once I mentioned that line, though, his eyes lit up. I was a woman after his own heart.

But I was also a woman who had a tendency to exaggerate when drunk. Now, don't get me wrong. I like the Jets. And if I had to pick a favorite team in the NFL, no doubt, it would be the Jets.

I feel a connection for a couple of reasons. Namely, the team practices at my alma mater, Hofstra University. Plus, my dad is a long-time fan, and as a tyke, I watched enough games with him to pick up a little bit.

But a long-suffering Jets fan? I clearly am not.

I think most guys take women who claim to be sports fanatics with a grain of salt. They don't think chicks can actually dig the game. But in my alcoholic haze, I must have been convincing. Andrew truly believed that Gang Green blood ran through my veins.

The next week, we met for coffee. (I think I was still hung-over from our previous meeting, and was trying to sober up.) Soon enough, talk turned back to the Jets. Ugh! It seemed the sucker wanted proof of my love for his favorite team. We talked for what appeared to be five hours and twenty-seven minutes (but who the hell's counting, right?) about Chad Pennington. Then he asked me who my favorite player was. Without missing a beat, I said, "Curtis Martin."

"Yeah, he's great. Who's your favorite running back?"

Gulp. Was this a trick question? Curtis Martin is a running back, right?

Right?

"Curtis is," I said, with a curious look.

"No, I'm talking about all-time. Who was your favorite old-school running back?"

The only thing I could think about doing at that point was running for my life. I wanted to crawl up into a feeble little ball, just to make it easier for him to kick my lying ass to the curb. I began to tap into my painfully low sports-knowledge reserves. But the only old-school name that popped up was Joe Klecko. And I knew he was fat. Had to be on defense. Then it hit me. Like the football fairy just came down, waved her magic wand and poof, the name appeared: Freeman McNeil.

He smiled. And I was redeemed. I soon switched the subject to something I know much more about -- sex -- and I was off the hook. But I went home that afternoon, and decided I was never going to call Andrew back. Ever. I couldn't continue the charade.

So I'll watch the Super Bowl this weekend. And I'll cheer when appropriate. And I'll take comfort in the fact that I don't know much more about the Raiders and the Bucs except that Keyshawn Johnson once played for the Jets. And I make no apologies for it.

Got that, Andrew?

Theresa O’Rourke is an editor for Cosmopolitan.

 

Aileen Gallagher

What I know about football could fill a book. It did, in fact. One-hundred-twelve pages, 14-point type, and lots of pictures.

Walter Payton was published as part of the “Football Hall of Famers” series by Rosen Publishing, an educational publishing house. My editor was a French Canadian who didn’t like to pay me but did like to invite me to her gallery show so I could buy her art. She knew less about football than I did. Apparently, that’s possible.

Walter Payton was a running back. I don’t remember what that means, but I do know that Payton was very good at it. A football and Payton autodidact named Michael David Smith explained terms like “rushing” and “running back” to me. He was tender and gentle about it, as though he were explaining death to a small child.

All to no avail. I still have no idea what happens in a football game. Why do you need four downs to get a first down? You already had the first down. What about the guys who just run to the side when they’re all lined up down there on the field? There’s already too many people on the field, anyway. I think a safety is both a position and some sort of play. Why make the sport intentionally more complicated? Why can’t everything just be like baseball? Or golf! Golf is easy. You hit the ball into a hole. Duh.

I have to respect football fans, though. There are so many players, and fans somehow manage to keep them all straight. This game is understood by people all over the country, some of whom probably aren’t as smart as me. But they know the game; I don’t even bother to try anymore. They probably also know that Super Bowl is two words, despite my linguistic insistence that it should be one. And they most likely don’t care that the URL for the Football Hall of Fame is the absolutely not intuitive. (http://profootballhallof.com)

What I know about football is that Walter Payton was an excellent human being. He was beloved by his fans and his teammates and respected by his opponents. If a guy like that chose to play football for a living, there must be something to it.

But damned if I know what.

Aileen Gallagher writes The Black Table’s "Weekly Rundown."

 

Amy Blair

Before signing up for fantasy football this fall I didn't know all that much about the game. The first thing I learned was that there is no mercy in fantasy football. It's bamboozle or be bamboozled. To survive in this cutthroat environment, you've really got to keep your mind off of distractions and stay focused. For that reason, I decided to take an oath of celibacy this football season.

I was just that serious about winning.

By re-focusing all of that energy that would have been wasted on fleeting sexual encounters with passing strangers in compromising situations, I've managed to become an expert--when it comes to football. After five months, I don't even think about sex anymore. The frustration has vanished. I'm focused solely on football. I'm like a machine.

If only my boys could have shown the same dedication, maybe I'd have made it into the playoffs.

My fantasy team, so aptly named Babies For Breakfast -- you see, my team is so tough, it eats babies for breakfast! -- had four players who are arguably football legends: Curtis Martin, Peyton Manning, Marshall Faulk and Jerome Bettis. Yet, despite having these four big guns, my season never quite climaxed.

I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I got my hands on Curtis Martin. I knew he could be a regular hump-a-thon on the field. When he was healthy, he could carry the ball over and over and over and over and over and over again. But somehow, he never seemed to score the TD. And scoring, as you know, is what it's all about. Having him on your fantasy team could be exciting at times, but, like so many others…in the end, damn frustrating.

My quarterback Peyton Manning, on the other hand, is as dumb as a box of rocks. If he were prettier, I'd say he should be seen and not heard. He's a good player to have on your fantasy team as long as he keeps his mouth shut, his helmet on, and keeps gunning it downfield.

This brings me to Marshall Faulk…Faulk took me to a place I never dreamed existed. It was like I had never seen a sunrise before I met Marshall. To put it mildly, the man's got skills. The first week that I had Faulk on my team, I scored 99 points. Simply put, he was the hottest thing a girl could have on her fantasy team.

And then the little bitch got hurt. Typical.

I picked up Jerome Bettis toward the end of the season. I mistakenly thought that he might be my saving grace. He's fat, and he's slow, but he's useful in those crunch red zone situations. This is one big man, and having him in your fantasy, um, line-up, is all about staying on top of the situation, so to speak. You have to ride The Bus, no ifs, ands, or buts. And my god, certainly no butts.

It should go without saying that my season never did come to a head: I missed the playoffs.

The Super Bowl will be upon us shortly, and my vow of celibacy is over. The level of single-mindedness and absorption that I applied to the game this season paid off despite my fantasy shortcomings. I've learned a lot about football, but more importantly, I've learned a lot about myself. This undiluted level of focus and concentration that I have applied to the game of football has surprised even me.

Anyway, hopefully I will be a very busy girl in the next few months. After all, Fantasy Baseball starts in March.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be dreaming of Tiki and Ronde Barber. Two words: Barber sandwich. Think about it.

Amy Blair is a freelance writer based in New York.

 

Claire Zulkey

The Super Bowl is a lot like New Year’s Eve. Even though it’s essentially the same every year, a lot of pressure is put upon it to be the best one yet. People look forward to it like a holiday, place their bets, put on their best professional sports-watching duds and throw lavish Super Bowl parties.

And, like New Year’s Eve, more often than not, it peters out halfway through the evening and ends up being a disappointment.

Think back to your New Year’s Eve. You probably looked forward to a party, a fun outfit, some booze, some excitement and some romance. And maybe you got it. But what happened after midnight? You realized that you had another 365 days until the next one.

Every Super Bowl, too, it seems to happen. Food! Friends! Cheering! Commercials! Halftime show!

And then, after the halftime show, you realize that you have a scant amount of time until football season ends, plunging you into the No-Man’s-Land of the NFL and NBA. And even if the game is a hell of a game, you still watch it with a hint of sadness. Boredom, even. The buildup is the best part, and after you’ve seen a few two-minute commercials and some cleavage, well, it’s all downhill after that.

Oh, well, I suppose it’s different if you’re one of those people who has a team actually playing in the Super Bowl. I haven’t been one of those people since 1985, when the Chicago Bears won. I barely remember it, since I was six at the time, with little interest in the actual sport of football. I remember that the game was a blowout, and I remember the coziness of cuddling up by the fireplace to watch, and I remember being really, really bored towards the end.

But it’s not just me, and it wasn’t just my ill-spent youth. A few years ago, I was waitressing in a collegiate and manly type bar Super Bowl evening and looking forward to high spirits, big tips and the general exquisite testosteroney feel of the Super Bowl (which is some of its appeal to me, anyway, honestly; seeing boys act like boys can be fun). But even my beer-swilling customers seemed to have the same ennui that I did. After the Britney Spears and Aerosmith halftime show extravaganza, everybody seemed to get bored. The yelling stopped, people stopped vying to sit in the Budweiser inflatable chairs and orders for pitchers slowed down.

Part of the excitement of the Super Bowl, like New Year’s, is that it’s a one-time shot. It doesn’t drag on, say, like Hanukkah, or the World Series. So while the excitement builds for this brief moment of ecstasy, we tend to blow our wad way too soon on the fun.

We couple with the Super Bowl like some crazed pair of young lovers, ecstatic to see each other. Somehow, we need to learn to take it nice and slow, and make it last the entire Sunday, so instead of awkwardly waiting for the game to finish, we can both end satisfied, at the same time. That makes for a good Super Bowl relationship.

Claire Zulkey is the purveyor of Zulkey.com.

 

Lindsay Robertson

The reason I have a problem with spectator sports is not because I'm a girl. I have a problem with them because they're stupid and boring and pointless.

I understand liking sports if you're actually playing them. Or if your kid is. Or if someone you know is. Or even if you're betting on them. But caring about the outcome of a professional sports game is like caring about the outcome of a game of foosball played by two robots. There's no meaning behind it, and nobody even seems to be having fun.

The only reason to watch other people engage in a battle of some kind is because they represent opposing ideas. But professional sports teams don't represent anything. The players are supposed to represent their city, but they don't even care about their city. They'll go wherever they get paid the most! They're completely interchangeable. It's like a presidential election -- the winners are just the ones who spent the most money.

You know how, in the south, there's that ongoing war between people who prefer Ford trucks to people who prefer Chevrolet? It's a battle that seems to be fought exclusively through bumper-stickers and Calvin and Hobbes decals. Everyone thinks that's so funny, and that those people are so stupid to care about nameless, faceless corporations. Well, guess what? That is exactly what you're caring about when you care about professional sports, and those stupid people are YOU.

Spectator sports are like porn. Sometimes if you squint really hard, you can pretend for a second that the players are actually having fun, but deep down, you know that they only do it for the money. It's all about money. Where's the fun in that?

So, Sunday, when you gather with friends to watch the game (or worse, the commercials!), I'll be enjoying the lack of crowds while shopping 'til I drop at my local mall.

Have fun, suckers! I hope your favorite team loses, not that it matters!

Lindsay Robertson is just trying to make people mad. Bit of a grouch, she is. You can read more of her grumblings at http://lindsayism.diaryland.com.

*BT*