Football Jones

There Bruno was: feet up, popcorn and soda in hand, laughing happily while glued to the tube.

Was it a comedy (sort of), the Super Bowl (no), a Playoff game (nope) or even “Inside the NFL” (alas, not even that)? Bruno was sucking the final bit of fun from the NFL season during Pro-Bowl Weekend by watching the “NFL Skills Challenge” on the Saturday before the last game until August. There was Darrell Green, running away from everyone on the field as usual – although why he was playing WR for the AFC alumni team was a bit of a mystery. On the other side of the ball was Steve Young, rolling out and firing a pass deep. And finally we had Marcus Allen jawing at Marino for throwing the ball too hard and Marino himself in a semblance of the hurry-up offense shouting, “Come on, there’s a minute left!” It was great, it was hysterical, it was one more chance to see these guys on the field. Then Bruno’s spouse came into the room, sized up the situation and proclaimed, “You’re really a football junkie, aren’t you?”

And there it was, right out in the open. A football junkie.

How did it come to this? Frankly, it can all be blamed on Lynn Swann. His inescapable grace while achieving the perfect leaping catch had Bruno “jonesing” for football at an early age. (A very early age, by the way!) Like all NFL fanatics, we started soft with wide receiver acrobatics. That led to Joe Montana quarterback cravings and the driving need to see Bo Jackson break on a long run. Finally we even developed a taste for the hard stuff: defense. Come on, you know the thrill of a Rod Woodson interception or a Warren Sapp goal line stand. A long line of players fed the addiction, from Mike Singletary and Walter Payton to Emmitt Smith and John Elway. Then there’s the high of watching the current purveyors of football passion. Favre, Rice, Dante Hall and Ed Reed have kept the jones alive and well.

So, in the end, it comes to this. Thoroughly enjoying every last minute of football we can get. All the way down to hungrily watching 45-year-old Darrell Green keeping pace with today’s under-30 speedsters in the “NFL’s Fastest Man” race, Chad Johnson catching balls rapid-fired from machines in the “Hands Competition”, or the very last snap of the very last quarter of the Pro-Bowl. After all, it has to last all the way until pre-season. Sure, there’s the free-agency dance and the tease of the draft. But we don’t get a game until almost August – and we don’t get a REAL game until after Labor Day! So, you bet Bruno was watching. And no treatment is necessary, thank you. I wouldn’t miss a moment of it!


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