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FOOTBALL METHADONE

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By Gregg L. Hayim

This time of year has always been tough on me. The taxing emotional involvement required to be a Jet fan during a playoff run takes its toll. When the season ends, as it always does, instantly and disappointingly, the withdrawals are not kind. Like a smoker stripped of his pack; I feel Jumpy, bored and on edge. Not really knowing what to do, or how to fill my time without “next week� to worry about. Luckily, a few years back, I devised a plan. It’s not a perfect plan by any means, but a plan nonetheless.

A heroin addict doesn’t just quit cold turkey. Rather they wean off their addiction, gradually and with the some help. The way I see it, so too should I. I know what you’re thinking. Is this guy really comparing heroin addiction to Jet Football? Ya, I am. What’s your point? It’s from these ridiculous parallels that the even more ridiculous inspiration of “football methadone� was born.

It’s right around now that I begin to feel the pain. Those three or four weeks left of meaningful sports until April. That one remaining month that actually matters. Those few playoff weeks that serve as the divider between the time the Jets whip out the golf clubs and ESPN shifts the late-night lineup from NFL Live to the World’s Strongest Man. Please, do me a favor and wake me up when someone other than Magnus Van whatever his name is, wins. Between Magnus and Tom Emanski’s instructional videos, I wonder how ESPN can’t find anything better to broadcast after 11:00PM. (it’s worth noting however. You really can’t knock a system that has helped produce “back to back to back AAU National Championships. Obviously, this is a video that “gets results�).

So this is the plan. Every year I pick a team. Any team, and I jump on their bandwagon for a few weeks. Nothing too crazy, just a little hit to help kick the habit. I try to find reasons, usually meaningless ones, of how too justify rooting without feeling guilty. Maybe the city is known for nice looking women; or nice weather. Maybe they don’t have anyone named “Tom Brady� or “Bill Belichick� on the sideline. Whatever the reason may be, I try my best to justify it. Any team qualifies, so long as they don’t violate any of the four rules. Those being:

1) All AFC East Opponents are off-limits.
2) Any roster where the words “Tom Brady� can be found, are off-limits.
2) No merchandise of that team shall be bought, worn or tolerated.
3) Light cheering is condoned at an “acceptable� level. (Any outward sign of emotion that may cause an on-looker, a few years down the road, to ask “aren’t you a Bengals fan?�, or something of the sort, is deemed unacceptable.)
4) Once the season ends, all bets are off. Should that team win a championship, there shall be no celebrating. We treat these four weeks as a reprieve, not a holiday.

This week became decision time. Four teams remain. Let’s take a closer look at each and find out who’s in and who’s out ….

First up is the obvious choice for dismissal. As clearly stated in bylaws 1 and 2, The New England Patriots have been eliminated on the basis that they reside within the AFC East and a basic search of their current roster will reveal the name “Tom Brady� in bold print.
New England, out.

Second on the list, The Indianapolis Colts. Not exactly an easy one, but not that tough either. True, my heart goes out to Tony Dungy. And also true, I wouldn’t mind having yet another bullet to load into the “hey Eli, look at how much better your brother is� gun. Plus, they have a wide receiver from my alma mater, “the U�, on the squad. But then I thought to myself, if I lived my life based on Giant spite and collegiate allegiances, I would end up in way too many “hardcore� matches at the office and becoming a fan of every damn team in the league. I have to be real here, I don’t think I can stomach watching Indy win a Super Bowl. It’s way too much fun watching Peyton Lose.
Colts, out.
 
Next up, Da Bears. Things get a little tougher from here. I don’t really have a reason to not like the Bears. Chicago has decent looking girls. They’re an NFC team the Jets rarely see; they have a solid defense and seem to be a pretty respectable organization. What am I missing here? Oh right, week 11.
Bears, out.
 
We are left with one man standing.

Prior to the season, the Saints were unanimously voted the team “least likely to succeed� by the entire football community.   The saints are a team from the NFC that poses no real threat to my Jet allegiances. They have a ridiculously good backfield, an overachieving quarterback, and a rookie wide receive from Hofstra. New Orleans, a year ago, was a city left ravished and demoralized by one the worst disaster in our countries history. They lost a big chunk of their fan base to Hurricane Katrina and have become sentimental favorites for good reason. This team would have been a severe underdog given the best of circumstances. They are an unthinkable underdog given these circumstances. Just like we were those months after September 11th, New Orleans is a city in desperate need of a smile and I’m OK with seeing them get it.
 
It’s not easy watching the jets extend the losing streak to thirty-eight years, but someone has to win this thing. If not us, why not them? Yep, I think we have a winner here. It’s not easy for me to root for someone else, but if I have to…this year I’ll go with the Saints.
 
Enjoy these next three weeks fellas. Because once they end, its going to be a while until we hear those four magical words signifying the end of boredom…one lousy month and counting until….�Pitchers and Catchers Report.�

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