I have come to the conclusion that I am too stupid to watch football. I can tell you the Julian-Claudian linage from Appius the Blind to Nero. I can debate post-colonial theory. I am lethal at AoE and Civ2. I can even drive a car! But I can’t actually follow a football game.

So I asked Stick to explain. Stick loves football, which is why we ended up with a table facing a TV at Theodore’s. I’m asking partly to be a good girlfriend, Stick has listened to enough of my interests to warrant a few hours of my attention. Anyway, I love strategy games and there’s got to be some strategy to football.

Stick gave forth in such unbridled excitement, I wondered if he’d been waiting months to tell me why the Packers are Satan-spawn and Randy Moss is a demi-god. He told me the names of the positions and drew little Xs and Os on the bar’s napkins, prompting me to ask if Os are bad guys or good guys. (Apparently it’s offence and defence. Who knew?) What are the rules for tackles? Why don’t they just fight like real men — hockey players, for example? Why’d they stop playing again? And why is “kickoff” a noun instead of a transitive verb? I couldn’t really follow Stick’s explanations, but I assumed it was the noise and distractions of the bar that kept me from really understanding what was going on. Football’s for dummies, and I’m a smart girl. I should have no problem with this.

This morning, with a head unclouded by Bayou Punch and Swamp Water, I asked my housemate Grant, former high-school football star, to explain a play to me. Of course, when he drew it, he used Xs, Os, and little squares and trianges. Cheater.

“And this O is the fall-back?” I asked.


“Right. And the three triangles are the defensive lineup?”

“The triangles and the squares. It’s a three-four” (Note to self: that’s the name of the play, not the sides in the polygons)

“And what’s the 34 over here?”

Grant, like Stick, made a heroic effort to explain it to me. But I had so many questions! Why isn’t there a three-fourths-back? If this is pre-season, is there post-season football too? How are they all so big? Did they eat their veggies like mom said, or are they on steroids? And what’s the deal with face-painting? (At least hockey fans do it so they know who to punch when the brawl breaks out.) Grant explained in detail. “Encroachment is when contact is made in the neutral zone… Are you following?”

“Hey, I know what the neutral zone is! It’s what separates the Federation from the Klingons!”

It’s confirmed, I’m just not smart enough for football.

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