Archive for the Confessions of a Female Football Fan Category

Just Between You and Me, Brett Favre…

Posted in Confessions of a Female Football Fan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2008 by tigereye

What the hell could you possibly be thinking?

Dude, I’m not even going to go into the details about how you’re embarrassing yourself, because that’s been done so many times it’s like the kiddie pool at the Y: I have no desire to swim where everybody else has already peed. And I’m not gonna dwell on how low you have to have sunk to get sent to the Jets. The New York Jets, who suck so bad Miami got their single season win over them last year. They might get another. When you don’t retire, sometimes all it means is you’re about to meet the young, tough likes of Philip Merling and Glenn Dorsey, head-on.

I’m just thinking about how you must feel. Physically.

Dude, you and I are only a year apart in ages, and my legs hurt just now when I got up to go into the kitchen and get a glass of orange juice. All I’d been doing is sitting on them. That’s how it starts, you know — and I know you know — in your 30s, when all of a sudden the joints and bones and muscles that have got you this far wake up one day and look at each other and say, “I’m really tired of carrying her around. Aren’t you? Screw it, let’s take the day off.”

Brett, no one has hit me physically in about 25 years, and there are days I get up in the morning and have to grit my teeth and psych myself up just to run a mile. I don’t do anything like what would be required of me in the NFL. And it hurts when I come home sometimes. I’ll stiffen up sitting in the chair reading a book, or my calves will ache all day, and usually the payoff is worth it — I remind myself it’s the only reason I don’t weigh 300 pounds — but there are days when I, like my thigh muscles and my lower back, think What’s wrong with me that I do this to myself?

All that is before I even start the situps, by the way.

At our age, Brett, about all we can hope for is to get through the day with nothing starting to hurt, because these are the years when you can see up the road into your 60s and 70s and tell what’s going to ache like hell by then. I have years of lower back pain to look forward to — I can only hope the migraines have decamped by then — and like I said, no one the size of a MiniCooper has ever run full tilt into me and stomped my ass into the frozen tundra. There were times I wondered, watching you play, how or why you got back up when a stretcher must have looked like a good place for a nap. Not to mention a warm locker room.

Brett, as you get older, the new guys on defense just get younger. And tougher. And hungrier. They all want to be the next Reggie White, and one or two of them will. Do the Jets play Tampa Bay during the regular season? (I don’t give enough of a damn about the Jets to know.) When Gaines Adams pastes you into the grass, you’re going to flash back to those old story problems from grade school: if a guy who weighs about 220 comes at you at what looks and feels like 30 miles an hour, how long does it take you to start reconsidering retirement?

How long has it been since you just kicked back with a beer and watched a game? It’s not so bad. You can do it from a big ol’ easy chair the size of a linebacker. No one will think less of you for it. If anyone breaks your starting record, you’ll be collecting Social Security before they do it. You’re already a legend, man. Stay that way. Let it go. On behalf of Joe Theisman, I implore you, let it go.

I’m just saying.

I gotta stop writing now. You never know when carpal tunnel’s going to kick in.

At our age.

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The Last College Football Post My Friends Will Be Asked to Read Until August*

Posted in Confessions of a Female Football Fan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2008 by tigereye

It’s over now, and I’m not entirely displeased with how things turned out. Good for you, LSU! I’m a Clemson fan before anything else, so it’s natural for me to cheer on any team called the Tigers. Then again, Clemson lost narrowly to Auburn in our bowl game, so maybe I’ll rework that philosophy in the off-season.

Getting my team out of the way first, it wasn’t a great year, but it wasn’t bad, either. We had a good quarterback for the first time since the early ’80s; because we had a good quarterback, we also learned we had good receivers. Before now, who knew why they couldn’t make more catches? We had one of the best pairs of running backs in the NCAA, one of whom is going pro this year. James Davis, you will be missed. We had a killer defense, all of whom wanted to follow in the big, fast footsteps of Gaines Adams. Sigh. We miss him too. And at least next year, maybe we won’t have to play Virginia Tech, who have clearly just got our number.

As for other teams…

It was nice to see Ohio State lose again, to yet another faster, tougher, better SEC team, although OSU has learned that if you play all the other teams in Ohio you’ll eventually end up at #1, whether you deserve it or not. The same goes for Southern Cal, who were talked up as the best college football team in history by sports loudmouths all over the world, led by Lee Corso as usual — and then lost to 40-point underdog Stanford, at home. This didn’t slow Corso or the others down for long, though, and it didn’t keep Pete Carroll from politicking to get into the championship any more than their second loss did.

Some great teams rose and fell this year. West Virginia could’ve run the table, but suffered their two losses like everyone else and then had their coach yanked out from under them, only to find… their interim coach led them to a bowl victory better than his predecessor probably could’ve. The Fiesta Bowl was one of the best football games I saw this season: everyone picked Oklahoma to win, and then the Mountaineers came out swinging, with an unheard-of defensive formation, a smaller team, and dizzying speed to beat the holy hell out of Bob Stoops’s Sooners. Patrick White, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not as good as Tim Tebow. What a game! I walked around the house for the next two days singing John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” My boyfriend is less pleased with the Fiesta Bowl because of this. I’m not a very good singer.

Georgia started off wobbly and finished strong, and Hawaii started off undefeated and finished demoralized. But I loathe Georgia, so ’nuff said about that.

Appalachian State, known as dangerous by the entire southeast, beat Michigan by two points, although it wasn’t nearly that close. For those of us disgusted with the hubris of the Big 10, it was a great moment. For poor old nice-guy Lloyd Carr, it was the beginning of the end of a distinguished career.

Indiana honored their late coach’s memory by getting to a bowl game; Illinois shocked the world by getting to a bowl game; Kansas did itself proud by getting to a bowl game. Miami shocked their fans by not qualifying for one.

The BCS system managed to royally screw only one team this year (Missouri), which someone will probably cite as evidence that the crappy system is working. They also managed to put three teams in games that looked beyond their abilities: Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio State. Hats off to Kansas for the upset; sorry, Illinois, but they had to give Pete Carroll’s overrated team someone they could be expected to beat (the real reason Georgia didn’t go to the Rose Bowl); and Ohio State, once again you got what you deserved.

As usual, there were plenty of coaching, uh, highlights. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy lost his mind, or at least his cool, at a press conference early in the season; LSU’s Les Miles just barely held onto his temper at a press conference just before his SEC championship win. Lloyd Carr found out that winning a national championship at Michigan means little if you keep losing to Ohio State. (If Rich Rodriguez thinks he’s going to put together a better team at Michigan than the one he just left at West Virginia, I’ve got some oceanfront property in both those states to sell him.) The same clueless whining ingrates at Florida State who can’t appreciate the experience, canniness, and decency of Bobby Bowden spent another year whining. Similar clueless ingrates at Clemson are whining about his son Tommy, so I suppose it’s a family tradition. Pete Carroll spent another year at Southern Cal with an overrated team, but with the best hair in the NCAA. Any day now I expect him to start doing Pantene commercials. And Charlie Weis will have to lay low for a while (it’s been kind of nice not seeing him) until he can get his Notre Dame team into shape for 2008. I can only hope they’ve got a game scheduled with Appalachian State.

Well, that’s it for 2007. I hope LSU enjoys their long-overdue time at Number One for a few months, before the loudmouths across the land release the preseason polls and park Southern Cal or Ohio State there again. Jeez, like most of the fans across the country who are tired of this favoritism, I can hardly wait.

*Until the 2008 season rolls around, I’ll just have to bore my friends to death with politics instead. Oh well!

Bah! Humbug! BCS!

Posted in Confessions of a Female Football Fan with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2007 by tigereye

I mean, honestly. Ohio State again?

Along with every other rabid college football fan in the world, I sat up last night to watch the normally remarkable West Virginia Mountaineers implode during their rivalry game, losing their shot at the BCS championship to 4-7 (well, 5-7 now) Pittsburgh. It was a lot like the old insurance commercial where a butterfly sets off a car alarm and triggers a chain of events leading to the demolition of a building: first they missed an easy field goal, then they fumbled two or three times, then their star quarterback dislocated his thumb… I wanted to cry, and they’re not even my team.

Missouri lost, too, although at least losing to Oklahoma has a little more dignity. Lots of people lose to Oklahoma.

So this means it’s another year in which the champion of a mediocre conference like the Big Ten gets to sit at Number One like a squatter in a shack until they face a team from a conference that takes football seriously — SEC, Big 12, ACC, hell, even the Big East — and get stomped into the turf. No offense, OSU guys, but we’ve all seen you get beaten before, and we’re tired of it.

What would be nice is a game, a championship fight like the one between Texas and (also extremely overrated) Southern Cal two years ago, where both teams scrap over the lead the whole time and there’s a legitimate Football Hero at the end. Now that was fun. You had two teams, one from a genuinely competitive conference (I’ll take the PAC-10 seriously when they learn to play defense), both of them with perfect seasons and future NFL stars, fighting it out right down to the last few seconds. I went to work bleary-eyed the next day, but I was happy I’d watched the game.

Now it’s going to be a rerun of last year. Ohio State doesn’t have the recruiting ground of a southern or western team, lacks defensive and offensive speed, and got to be 11-1 by beating such powerhouses as Akron and Kent State and Youngstown and — ooh, wait for it — Northwestern. Wow. Whoever programs the “strength of schedule” part of the BCS computer must have been an OSU graduate, because my 9-3 Clemson Tigers played tougher opponents than this. OSU played Penn State and already-disgraced Michigan and got pounded by unranked (I think?) Illinois, and they get to sit at the top of the heap? Who the hell thinks this is a good idea?

Commentators, that’s who. It seems like, with the exception of loudmouthed Doug Flutie, every sportscaster on the air graduated from a Big Ten school. Well, congratulations, guys, for being the most telegenic in your field — and I like to look at Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard as much as the next female fan, so it’s not like I don’t get it — but it doesn’t mean your conference was any damn good.

My team plays in the ACC, which is just below the Big 12 as far as powerhouse teams go. I watch a lot of SEC ball, too, because I freely admit it’s the toughest conference, and it’s hard to beat watching the Auburn-LSU game, or Georgia-Florida, or even Tennessee-Alabama. Now those are some teams that should be among the best in the nation, but they’re consistently pushed out of the top spots by the same teams the computer and the talking heads favor: OSU, USC, Oklahoma, formerly Miami, formerly Notre Dame (thank God we won’t have to suffer those fools in the bowl games this year).

This is not only boring, it’s insulting. There are too many good programs out there for the championship to be handed to one of five or six teams every single year, just because the computer and the journalists are used to seeing those names. Sometimes the best team in the country is going to be LSU, guys. Or West Virginia. Or even Hawaii. The fans aren’t bored with college football, we’re bored with the way the same old teams have learned to game the system. The Big 10 and the PAC-10 haven’t legitimately produced a real champion who beat tough opponents all season since I was in high school — but they’ve produced a lot of people who vote in the polls, and I’ll bet twenty bucks the Big 10 produced whoever set up that ridiculous computer to think beating Purdue and Northwestern equals strength of schedule.

So we’ll see who gets to perform the ritual slaughter this year. One reason I resent this continued coronation of OSU is it forces me to cheer for whoever’s going to beat them, and that’s often a team I don’t like. I’m no fan of Florida, but last year I was stuck cheering them on, and this year it looks even worse: I’ll have to pull for the likes of Georgia or Oklahoma. That’s going to require a lot of alcohol. I’ll start stocking up tomorrow.

Superstition Ain’t the Way

Posted in Confessions of a Female Football Fan with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2007 by tigereye

*Advance warning to my non-sports friends: this is mostly about stupid human tricks, but football does come up a few times.  It also dates back to early October, when my then-undefeated team faced one of our rivals. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.

 I thought I had everything.

I had on the particular orange t-shirt that I’d worn every game day so far this season. I put on my gold tiger paw earrings, my silver tiger paw necklace, and my two orange rubber bracelets, one with CLEMSON stamped into it and the other speaking up for the ASPCA (but I wore it because it, too, was orange).

I had everything but the underwear.

I swear, I’d picked up one of the two “lucky game day” pairs of orange bikinis with little red cherries embroidered on them, Victoria’s Secret circa about four years ago. I’d held them in my hand, but I couldn’t find them now. I must have set them down somewhere, but damned if I had a clue where, and nothing puts a crimp in getting dressed quite like not being able to locate my underwear. And in my own house, too; most of the missing-underwear stories I’d heard or might have told over the years involved being at someone else’s house. Having the same thing happen here at home was like being flipped off by karma.

After retracing my steps between dryer, bedroom, and closet so many times I felt like an OCD patient on the locked ward, I gave the hell up. I got the second-tier lucky bikinis out of the drawer. These were also orange but had cherries screen-printed on them all over, not embroidered in the corner. It made me nervous. These things matter.

Has this ever happened to you?

I hate being superstitious. It’s like admitting you still believe in Santa Claus, well into your thirties, or it would be if a significant segment of the population didn’t secretly think the same thing. Some people get all exercised over a black cat; some hyperventilate if you leave a hat on the bed; some are hung up on the number thirteen. I, by comparison, am but a garden-variety superstitious sports fan, but you’ll never convince me that Clemson didn’t lose that fucking football game to borderline-pathetic Georgia Tech without a little nudge of bad luck because I couldn’t find my orange panties with the little red cherries on them. Never.

See, it feels like it works. Like the t-shirt. I’d worn that same t-shirt with the cool “Thunder and Lightning” graphic for every game since Florida State, because I’d worn it then and we’d won. Never mind that it had a purple tarnish stain on it — from my lucky necklace, no less — that refused to come out in the wash. Never mind that if you sorted my 100,000-plus t-shirts into themes I’d have enough Clemson game-day clothes to wear them like Kleenex for the next five years: wear it once and throw it away, and I’d still have some for next season. Several of these shirts date back to my college days. I have favorite clothes that, were they human, would be old enough to drive.

Doesn’t everyone do this, for all kinds of reasons? I have silver donkey earrings I wear every election day. They ushered in Bill Clinton and watched proudly over the Democratic victories last fall. Last summer, I wore an ankle bracelet whenever I worked on my novel, and the work I did seemed consistently stronger on the days I wore it.

Sometimes I wonder if this isn’t one of those Life Turning Points in which a mildly OCD person suddenly goes off the rails completely. Am I one more ball game away from choosing a lucky pair of earrings to wear to job interviews? Will I wake up next Thursday and not leave the house until I’ve seen a blue jay through the window? Will I have to sing some particular song in the shower every morning for reasons I can’t even speculate about? I imagine myself in a white room, on a white couch, in a white straitjacket, saying to a white-bearded doctor, “It all started with orange underwear.” Pause. “And I have to tell you, we’re not going to make any progress in this room, because my lucky color isn’t beige.”

While I was hunting for the escaped panties, I thought, reasonably, This is all superstitious crap, you know. They’re not going to lose because you can’t find your damn underwear with the cherries on it. The world doesn’t work that way. I stopped and considered this dose of reality for a moment. It had to be the truth: how could something I couldn’t find to wear, over 200 miles from the stadium, have anything to do with how the game would turn out? They’d win or lose based on plays, teamwork, a lot of fans showing up from Clemson… It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the panties. And then I remembered Kevin Costner, in “Bull Durham,” talking about Nuke the pitcher swearing off sex: You’ve been around this game long enough to know that if he thinks [he’s winning] because he’s not having sex, it IS because he’s not having sex.

I couldn’t find the goddamn panties.

Clemson lost to a much weaker team, 13-3. They made more mistakes and committed more penalties than they’d done so far in the other four games this season.

I watched the news earlier this week, in which one of the most talented players on the team was asked why he thought they lost. He looked near tears and said something to the effect of Maybe I’m not as good a player as I thought I was.

No, dude, I thought, switching off the news. You lost because I couldn’t find the right pair of orange panties.