“Just enjoy the games. This weekend you’re a football fan” — that’s the advice I gave to my fellow Jets fan Joe from Hawthorne to help him cope with the Giants–49ers and Patriots–Ravens duels today. As if a disappointing 8-8 season filled with underachieving players, clubhouse bickering and unfulfilled Rex Ryan bluster wasn’t bad enough, the fact that both the Patriots and the Giants are one win away from the Super Bowl will give any Jets fan agita.
Take the high road and watch the games as a football fan. That approach helped me enjoy the 49ers-Saints and Giants-Packers thrillers last week with my 12-year-old son Zack. This season was the first year he really started to follow football, so I’ve been overjoyed talking to him about each week’s highlights as well as tossing the football with him. He started out being a Cowboys fan (cruel irony #1 for me); then last week said he wanted to get a Hakeem Nicks jersey (cruel irony #2) to add to his Derek Jeter jersey (cruel irony #3 since I’m a Mets fan).
His enthusiasm reeled me back into the realm of serious football fan — a hat I haven’t worn for a while. A rabid Jets fan growing up in Queens back in the 80s — playing tackle, no equipment; following the Sack Exchange and inhaling every issue of Football Digest — I fell off the wagon more than 10 years ago because watching four-hour games became too much of a luxury with two little kids around the house. The constant parade of commercials during football games also turned me into an occasional fan, but I did plant the seeds of future football addicts by playing “get past the Refrigerator Perry” with Zack and daughter Ava when they were toddlers.
So no matter who your team is, put partisan rancor aside this weekend and enjoy the games. Even if you’re not a fan, now’s a great time to watch since you’ll see some (hopefully) great football, as these guys are playing for a ticket to the big show.