So you're not that into the NFL.
Hey, I get it. You don't follow the crowd. You're a lone wolf on the American sportscape. You take pride in an independent streak that's left you on the losing end of one too many bar fights.
I respect that, and I wouldn't try to revoke your American citizenship just because the intricacies of the Cover-2 don't interest you.
That isn't my style. I'm a nice guy.
Here's what I will do, though: I'll give you 11 reasons to watch the remaining three games of these NFL playoffs, reasons that have no relation whatsoever to the football micro-culture you've surely grown to loathe.
Because the NFL playoffs are cool, and you don't need an encyclopedic knowledge of blitz pickups in order to appreciate them.
People watching football eat the most delicious, artery-clogging food imaginable.
They do this compulsively, as if the game won't start until their LDL reaches a certain standard of ill-health.
Foodstuffs eaten by people watching football include: chicken wings, pizza, nachos, nacho pizza, pizza wings, lard biscuits and about 70 other varieties of things in that vein.
Trust me, there's something for you at this four-hour mouth orgy.
Even better, the people watching the game often grow so engrossed in the on-screen events that they will neglect their food for long periods of time.
This is your cue to eat everything and blame it on Rusty the cockeyed dachshund.
You've no doubt heard the cliches before.
"It's anyone's game." "It ain't over 'til it's over." "You gotta believe."
And you've also no doubt realized that these are outright lies.
The overdog always wins, so much so that it isn't worth watching tournaments like the NBA playoffs until the Conference Finals.
But not in the NFL. No sir.
Today's NFL has achieved the closest thing to perfect parity in the history of American sports. Anyone can win on any given day, and upsets happen with enough regularity that they make a mockery of prediction and so-called analysis.
The following exercise will prove my point.
Walk up to your football-obsessed friends on the day of the game and pick either of the two teams to win. They'll ask you why and you'll answer, "Just 'cause." Better yet, say you've picked that team because you prefer their mascot or color-scheme.
Your nonchalance and naivete will push your friends into apoplexy and/or ridicule. Calmly say that you would like to make a wager on the game's outcome.
They will laugh, agree and smile smugly.
Three hours later you'll have won the bet and they'll be forced to engage in whatever unmentionable acts you included in the wager. Either that or money, though I prefer the unmentionable acts.
Everyone likes a good surprise.
Since you don't like the NFL, I'm going to assume you like elves.
If so, be sure to note that the best player and public face of the football team from New York looks like an elf.
Nubile, soft features, probably loves cookies—I'm telling you this guy is dead-ringer for Ernest J. Keebler.
The stark contrast between him and the mammoth men hired to protect/destroy him is good for a few laughs. I'm not saying it will keep your attention all game, but it's a start.
This is not a gender-specific argument.
Tom Brady is an attractive human being, and fans of all ilk can appreciate that.
If you're a man, imagine him as Michelangelo did David—a masterpiece of Godly creation so resplendent it enlivens the human spirit.
If you're a woman, imagine him in a topless fireman's suit under the words "SMOKIN' SEXY."
If you're jealous, take comfort in the notion that this chiseled piece of perfection will be knocked down repeatedly by large, angry men throughout the course of the game.
I know you, football hater.
You think this game is all brawn and no brains, a mindless mishmash of brute strength and ogre-ish sound effects.
Well suck on this surprise: The Baltimore Ravens are named after a poem by Edgar Allen Poe.
That's right, the Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote words and stuff and had a big-ass vocabulary.
I can hear your new-found appreciation for the game's sophistication growing. Either that or the undead heart of a man I killed last week has a searing grip on my subconscious.
I guess you didn't see it since you're not that into football and all, but the San Francisco 49ers played pretty much the most awesome game in sports history last weekend against the New Orleans Saints.
First the 49ers were all like beating the Saints. Then the Saints we're like, "no way," and came back.
Then the 49ers called some crazy plays and took the lead. Then the Saints did some more nutty stuff involving a grown man named "Jimmy."
The 49ers finally sealed the win with nine seconds left, and everyone in San Francisco lost their mind.
It was cool.
If something like that happens again, you'll be sorry you missed it.
Seriously, what else are you going to do this Sunday when everyone else is watching football?
Go to the movies?
Light a scented candle and listen to Yanni?
Stage a production of Cats using actual cats?
Whatever it is, I guarantee it will be a solitary pursuit.
So enjoy that while the rest of us reap the re-affirming benefits of human interaction—you know, the thing that separates us from the beasts.
Basically I'm saying that if you don't watch football this weekend, you are no better than a bear. Is that what you want? To be a bear the rest of your life?
I thought not. Watch football.
Advertisers bring their "A" game to the football telecast and you, casual fan, are the main benefactor of that.
If you have an interest in beer, trucks or car insurance (a casual acquaintance of the first two items), each of America's leaders in those respective fields will court your patronage over the course of the broadcast.
That usually means a 30-second clip about cavemen punctuated by some form of word play.
Sometimes it's funny. Most of the time it isn't.
Either way, it quickly becomes apparent how hard these companies are trying impress you, and that in itself is a form of entertainment.
Make a note every time an advertisement attempts to normalize you by appealing to demographic tendencies.
Allow yourself a small chuckle whenever a company uses blind patriotism to promote the sale of products made overseas.
Take solace in the fact that everyone else in the room is too busy discussing the game's nuances to make such astute observations about American consumer culture.
Gosh, you are so subversive.
My girlfriend's favorite part about football is the player names.
They're pretty wacky, I guess.
Just a small sampling of the players who'll be active this weekend.
Dashon Goldson, Parys Haralson, Ricky Jean Francois, Moran Norris, Chilo Rachal, David Baas, Zak DeOssie, Henry Hynoski, Jerrel Jernigan, Bear Pascoe, Tony Ugoh, Zoltan Mesko, Lousaka Polite, Chykie Brown, Tandon Doss, Jah Reid, Billy Cundiff and, of course, Chad Ochocinco.
So if crazy names are your jam then, good news—NFL rosters are large.
If you haven't experienced them before, the men responsible for previewing, reviewing and relaying the on-screen action of a football game will blow your mind.
They are the most under-qualified, incompetent, pompous, reductive group of people ever allowed onto a television set in the history of the medium.
And yes, I've seen The View.
They will yell. They will laugh way too hard at each other's jokes. They will make no attempt at coherent sentences.
Seeing them in positions of influence and prestige will amuse, baffle and ultimately depress you upon the realization that they'll earn more money in a year than you will in a lifetime.
No matter, the spectacle must be seen to be believed.
Is there anything cooler than the sound and fury of 65,000 people yelling in unison?
Even those that find the sport barbaric get swept away in the din of collective elation.
Few venues can rock like an NFL stadium, and come playoff time those roars reach feverish extremes.
You can feel the tremors through your television set. It's spectacular stuff.