It's a sad day.
Wasn't it just a few weeks back that I was anxiously anticipating the first games of a new football season? Now, with today's Super Bowl, the season ends, and football fans face seven months of emptiness.
Well, pigskin emptiness, anyhow. I have other interests, of course. But the fact remains there's not much better than a crisp fall day with a good football game, some tailgating and a college marching band.
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I've found a way to use football season as a coping mechanism for winter. Once the splendor of fall gives way to cold temperatures and my desire to spend time outside wanes, there's plenty of football on TV to help pass the time when I'm not shoveling snow. Winter's not so bad when you can cozy up on the couch and watch a good game.
After today, though, that's finished.
The good news is that the end of football season means that spring isn't all that far off. At least that's how I've framed it in my mind. The days are already getting longer. And in a month, we'll be in the midst of the high school and college basketball tournaments. Not only are they a highlight on the sports calendar, they generally coincide with winter's last gasp. Once they finish, the omnipresent mounds of snow start melting, and the teenagers break out their shorts. Well, the ones who don't wear them year-round, anyway.
Wednesday was national signing day - the day football junkies learn where high school stars are going to play in college - a brief respite from winter. Now, all that's left is the Super Bowl.
Speaking of which, I can't decide whom to cheer for. I kind of like both the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They're not my favorite teams - I root for the hapless San Diego Chargers - but I still generally cheer for them. I selected the Packers to win in the final edition of Fearless Forecasters published in the Thursday paper. But I did so without confidence.
As well as Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers plays in domes, the Steelers defense is stingy. And it's hard to ignore Pittsburgh's six previous Super Bowl victories. The only time they lost in the championship game, Neil O'Donnell was their quarterback. He threw two crucial interceptions directly to the same Dallas Cowboys' defender and was clearly either legally blind or on the take. I suppose what I'm saying is I should have picked the Steelers. But it's too late now.
There are reasons to cheer against both teams that play today, too. Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a track record of treating women poorly.
And, though not nearly as grievous, you know Green Bay supporters will antagonize Minnesota Vikings fans unceasingly if their team wins another Lombardi Trophy. And that just makes life more difficult for everybody who lives in this part of the country.
Ah, well. We'll all survive, I'm sure.
I guess those of us who care should just savor this final day of the football season: cocktail sausages and entertaining commercials, a great game (I hope) and a glorious victor. Then, it's time to face the remainder of winter's reality. So much for denial.
Such a sad, sad day.
Reporter Scott Waltman can be reached at 605-622-2315 or 1-800-925-4100 ext. 315; firstname.lastname@example.org