Sunday, September 7, 2003

The Buffalo Bills have been my second favorite NFL team ever since Jim Kelly came over from the USFL's Houston Gamblers in 1986, eventually leading them to four consecutive heartbreaking Super Bowls in the early 90's. WIth the Jets sucking for much of that time - from the latter years of the Joe Walton era through the horrible Rich Kotite fiasco - Buffalo was often my only chance to cheer for a playoff team I actually liked. In '91, when they lost the Super Bowl in the final seconds to the Giants, wide right, I was devastated, especially since for a split second or two, I thought Norwood's kick was good!

With the Jets having played on Thursday, I got to watch the Bills in action today against the despised Patriots (I think I hate them more than the Dolphins now, largely because of the punk-ass Mr. HC of the NEP, Bill Belichick) and was thrilled at the spanking they were delivering before CBS threw in the towel and cut to the Dolphins game. A little annoying but almost worth seeing the stunned looks on the Dolphins' faces after losing a shocker to the fledgling Texans.

There's something about football that no other sport really delivers. There's something visceral and interactive about watching a game, even on TV. Nothing comes close to a Monday Night Football game, in a bar with friends and the home team on fire, never mind actually being there live for the drama. Even the National Anthem seems a bit more impressive at a football game. Baseball is the most passive of spectator sports, almost like watching a game of chess. Basketball has a lot of action but often it's too much like a game of tennis - back and forth, back and forth - and isn't really that exciting until the playoffs. Hockey, though I've grown to respect the game over the years, will never be more than a bunch of goons on skates looking for a chance to sucker punch someone. Football, though, completely embodies that spirit of "any given Sunday." You can't take anything for granted in football. The fact that it's once a week also gives it a special feeling of an event throughout the season, not just at playoff time. Unlike the other sports, football's grand finale is often the least exciting game of the year.

That also makes fantasy football more exciting as the weekly format means you can better follow your players and every game counts. The challenge of picking the right players, a tricky combination of so-called studs and sleepers, and matching wits against equally savvy fans is unmatched in the other sports because of that. You can weather a few weeks' slump in baseball's 22-25 week season but in football, an unproductive superstar can kill you in just two weeks. I've got four teams this year, two that I really focus on, and both have gotten off to solid starts so far. In my Yahoo! league, a collection of random slam poets and friends from other areas of my life, I'm expecting a strong opening week win as my opponent has assembled a team of mostly Raiders, his favorite team, and I'm expecting the Titans to dominate them tonight. Of course, I'm partially biased as a Jets fan, looking forward to a collapse on the left coast as Gannon, Rice, Brown and Garner finally succumb to Father Time.

Practicing my new chant: "B-I-L-L-S!!!" (You know Lawyer Milloy is loving life right now.)

SIDE NOTE: I haven't been a Yankee fan for 20 years now but for some reason I still feel a little dirty enjoying the possibility of the Red Sox finally knocking them off their perch. Nevertheless, I can't wait for them to do it, Steinbrenner to lose his mind, fire the incredibly smug Torre and trade Giambi to the KC Royals!

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