Tomorrow the highways will be empty from about four o’clock until ten o’clock; perhaps even earlier while these Untied states engage in what has become an annual tailgate party. Large bellies and small will be stuffed near to bursting with mounds of fats and carbohydrates, and the occasional celery stalk in places like Oregon and Vermont, where the lower GI tract is still honored and cared for. It is the last day, the official end, of what I call The Eating Season.
The ES used to end on New Year’s Day, after all the hangover remedies had done what they could to overcome the excesses of the night before. Recently, however The Super bowl has replaced New Year’s Day, extending the season, just as the football season itself has extended, and the baseball, and the basketball and hockey, and the Presidential Campaign seasons have extended themselves. Soon they will be perpetual one suspects, punctuated by THE GAME once yearly when the whole nation can eat, drink and roar; and call in late the next day. It occurs to me that the Extended Season can be acronymed (is that a word?) as ES, too. That’s great!
This game has been called the nearest thing to a Gladiatorial Contest that the modern world has, and most of us are turned into plebs before the largest sheet of glass we can find to hang on our wall and watch every slipped tackle, thrown pass and especially hard hit (and the occasional garment mishap) in high definition while listening to all the grunts and roars in Surround Sound. The family will gather as they have not gathered since Thanksgiving; selected friends and neighbors in attendance, wives bringing their favorite vein stuffing fat saturated pasties and dainties.
Even the New President will take time off, and be photographed for the front pages on Monday, relaxing at home with Mom and the kids, a general or two, an old golf buddy or two; just like us, being us.
I’ll miss it again. No, I won’t be in a bunker, the only one keeping watch while everyone else just watches. I’ll probably read a book or take a walk in the snow. I should go for a drive, you know, since there won’t be a soul on the street. And, after sunsets, there’ll be no need for headlights, the blue lights from all those screens being more than enough to shame the moon and light my way.
While I am reading, I’ll anticipate the stories in the news tomorrow.They will run the numbers. I do not mean the score of the game. It will be a more important score, especially in these parlous times. I speak about the till, how much money changed hands, how much was spent, since that is, essentially what the last day of the ES is all about; what,the last day of all of the other extended seasons, even the Presidential one, is all about. It is bigger than Christmas, which is all about not what you think, but about bucks.
There will be some numbers missing, though from all of the number filled reports on Monday. They will be the numbers of the players. Not their team numbers; old “33” and stuff like that. I reference here the numbers of fellows who will have crossed a line between safety and an early certain death from one too many concussions.
You know, it is a Gladiatorial Contest, and we are plebs. The lovely thing about it now, is that as we watch we have the added titillation of knowing that while our men are down on the field playing their hearts out, some of them are also playing their lives out. I am not sure which it is more exciting to watch: The simple fact that
we know some will die as a result of this contest, or the actual death, as in ancient Rome, the mother of civilization.
After the game is over, let me know.
“The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, along with
other research institutions, has now identified traumatic
encephalopathy in the brains of late NFL football players John
Grimsley, Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk and Terry
Long, in addition to McHale.
Grimsley died of an accidental gunshot wound to the chest. Webster,
Long and Strzelczyk all died after long bouts of depression, while
Waters committed suicide in 2006 at age 44. McHale was found dead last
year of an apparent drug overdose.
“Guys were dying,” said Nowinski. “The fact of the matter was guys
were dying because they played sports 10 or 20 years before.”
So far, around 100 athletes have consented to have their brains
studied after they die.”