Through the gauzy mists of sleep, I sense my wife gingerly rolling out of bed … “What time is it?” I ask before she can escape the bedroom.
Only six more hours to New York Jets football, I immediately think. (Sad but absolutely true.) I get out of bed and head to the shower. Even though every NFL analyst has predicted that the Jets will be the worst team in the NFL this season, I still am filled with unbridled optimism at the season that might be. Check with back with me in 12 hours.
7:32 a.m. I cut my fingernails so I won’t be tempted to chew them off during the game.
7:56 a.m. I begin one of my most longest-standing game-day rituals—doing my laundry. I’m not quite sure how this started (possibly in quest of having a special “good luck” shirt ready for kickoff), but it’s what I do now. If anything, it provides a distraction, and besides, there’s something very calming about folding clothes still warm from the dryer.
8:17 a.m. I sit down at the computer and start going through the roll call of NFL sites that I feel that I can stomach, which admittedly has been greatly reduced over the past years as the Jets have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Other than my cyber buddies over at TheJetsBlog, there’s not an iota of optimism out there regarding the Jets or their chances for winning today. It may be a long day, and an even longer season. Sigh.
9:46 a.m. Time for a snack. I *really* want Pop Tarts, but for some reason, pouring 30 grams of processed sugar into my already buzzing system doesn’t seem like a particularly smart plan. I opt for a pear. Yawn.
10:02 a.m. I check on my fantasy football team. The real NFL season started on Thursday night with the Baltimore Ravens getting their butts handed to them by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 49-27, and although disastrous for the defending Super Bowl champs, it was good for my B.A.L.L.S. …
Yes, at the behest of my son Kade who is starting to get into fantasy football, we named our team the Bendici ALL Stars, or B.A.L.L.S. for short. At least he’s actually 12 . . . I don’t have an excuse.
Anyway, thanks to Thursday’s high-scoring game, we’re already winning 38-5—we’re going to need every point as we’re up against a team that has Tom Brady. Hopefully, rather than seeing the TD-throwing machine that normally is Brady, we’ll see this guy later today—
Oh Tommy, I know it was only a second in time, but it has brought me HOURS of laughs.
Again, check with me later.
10:29 a.m. Screw it, Pop Tart time! I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Besides, I plan on running off my frustration later. How often does the NFL season start anyway?! (Very weak rationalization, I know.) GIVE ME SUGAR NOW!!!!!
11:05 a.m. SUGARRRRRRR!!!! YEAHHHHH!! How can it only still be 11 am? What the hell?!!
11:12 a.m. Another game-day ritual—a pregame phone call with my buddy Bob, a diehard Patriots fan. He invites me over to his house to watch football (the Patriots-Bills contest will be on), but even as he does, he knows that I will decline to watch the Jets. We make plans to get together for the Pats-Jets game on Thursday night, talk a bit of fantasy football and wish each other well, even though we both not-so-secretly hope each other’s team loses. Like on any given Sunday, I’ll be hearing from multiple times later in the day.
11:30 a.m. I put on the TV to try and watch some NFL pre-game stuff, but quickly turn it off. I used to be glued to these shows, but now it’s just a bunch of shouting heads shouting at each other about the most inane stories—mostly insipid off-the-field story lines and very little actual analyses of NFL games, which is what I—and true NFL fans—prefer. These shows are for the casual fans, and they are welcome to them.
Noon One hour to kickoff! Time for some lunch—I’ve never did a bunch tailgate thing as most regular Sundays, I’m watching Jets games by myself or just with my sons. (For other games, I tend to go out with my friends to sports bars and the like.) Today, my feast is salami and provolone on wheat bread, a nectarine and a few chocolate chip cookies. I make pb&J for my sons and try to keep both my anxiety level and lunch down.
12:38 p.m. Start getting myself situated in front of the TV, opening up various windows on my laptop—Twitter feed, Jetsblog feed, fantasy football scoring … football in the 21st century is a multitasking affair!
12:48 p.m. I finally look through some of the pregame shows. I see on NFL Network’s show, a monkey actually has picked the Jets to lose today. I guess that makes it unanimous. We. are. doomed.
12:59 p.m. I am so fired up I may throw up!!! Let’s get this started!
1:00 p.m. J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!
1:17 p.m. Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith completes his first NFL pass for 26 yards. I already like him better than Mark Sanchez!
1:26 p.m. First score of the season—a safety as the Buccaneers snap the ball out of the back of the endzone. NYJ 2 TB 0. Not exactly how they draw ‘em up, but we’ll take it!
1:45 p.m. Touchdown!!! …. Bucaneers. Ooops. TB 7 NYJ 2. I curse loudly, which startles Kade, who is playing on his DS and half-watching the game with me. That’s good for moral support, though.
1:57 p.m. Jets answer with a field goal to make it TB 7 NYJ 5. Looks like a baseball score … but that’s okay, the Jets should have a couple more swings before this one is over. Most importantly, no butt fumbles!
2:11 p.m. Jets QB Smith fumbles on his own 5 yard line and Tampa scores a TD on their first play. TB 14 NYJ 5. Ugh. This Jets team is not built to come from behind, so this may be over already. Double ugh.
2:20 p.m. Another Jets turnover, via interception. Did I say ugh yet?
2:23 p.m. Wait, keep your hands inside the rollercoaster as the Jets defense gets an interception of their own! It’d be nice if they can convert some points before halftime.
2:33 p.m. And they do! Geno Smith to Kellen Winslow Jr. for a 7-yard TD pass, Smith’s first in the NFL. TB 14 NYJ 12. It’s a game, people! Kade and I do our “J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! fist bump routine because that’s what guys do!
2:34 p.m. Halftime. I’m going to bust out a Coke because that sugar from the Pop Tart is loooooong gone and my nerves aren’t going to fray themselves, you know.
2:55 p.m. Second half under way. A few plays in and center Nick Mangold is down. I know most people don’t know much about offensive linemen, but this is a huge blow to the Jets if he’s out. He’s taken to the lockerroom—never good.
3:14 p.m. Nick Mangold (which would make a great gay porn name—not that there’s anything wrong with it) is back in the game. Every little bit helps with this team.
3:28 p.m. End of the 3rd quarter, the score is still TB 14, NYJ 12. Hope—always dangerous—remains.
3:54 p.m. After going back and forth in the middle of the field, the Jets finally get close enough to kick a field goal and go up 15-14 with 5:04 left. I see how it’s going to be this year and I’m not sure my heart is going to be able to take it!
4:07 p.m. Two-minute warning and the Bucs are moving down the field. Glad I cut those nails this morning because I’d be biting them off right now! I might have to start on Kade’s.
4:16 p.m. Tampa Bay kicks a field goal to go up 17-15 with 38 seconds left. Backbreaker! My heart sinks … but Kade is there to pick me up. “Come on, Dad! Have hope! There can be a miracle!” He’s right—although the Fat Lady is certainly warming up her pipes! Still the Jets will get the ball back for a last-ditch try.
4:21 p.m. Do you believe in miracles?! Somehow the Jets have moved it down to midfield. So close …
4:22 p.m. Penalty?! Against the Bucs!!! Putting the ball at the 31 yard line with only 7 seconds left! The Jets trot out the field goal unit for a 48-yard attempt, snap the ball and it’s …..
JETS WIN! JETS WIN! J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!
4:23 p.m. And there was much rejoicing.
4:35 p.m. I get on my running shoes and head out to the track for a victory lap (or 14) to celebrate—and bring my heart rate down. There will be time for watching highlights and basking in the glow of sweet, sweet victory later. What a great turn of events! Glad I started blogging it all this morning … I love a happy ending.
Hey, I don’t know what the rest of the season will bring, but today, it brought a big smile!