Today has been kind of stressful. A bizarre decision by the University's Curriculum Review Committee to simply not meet between the months of April and September has left one of my fall courses in a weird liminal space. It's not that it won't run -- it will -- it's that I can't do some of the important administrative chores associated with it until the CRC gets in gear: ordering texts and desk copies, obtaining class rooms, building an online course reserve, etc. But, of course, because this is a University (and therefore hopelessly labyrinthine and inconsistent in all manner of regulations) I actually can do some of those things, just not all of them. And which ones I can do and which ones I can't do can only really only be distinguished by means of lengthy and exhausting negotiations with various
petty tyrants University bureaucrats, often conducted through tedious voice and electronic mail. As is always the case, my department secretaries have been absolute life savers in this process, but I still have a headache. (A side note: Be you student, faculty, or passer-by, in any interaction with an academic department the first order of business is to make friends with the department staff. They are ten times as important as anyone else in the building.)
Fortunately, the rough stuff has passed and I can now dedicate a few minutes to my great fall stress-reliever: football. I love football. Adore it. Used to play it. Now I just watch it, but I watch it religiously. I take Sunday's off in the fall from anything related to my regular work to make time for an extensive and joyful ritual. First thing Sunday morning I go for my long run (this requires taking it easy on Saturday evening), thus earning the ability to engage in extensive guilt free consumption for the rest of the day. Once showered, I head to a sports bar where I spend the rest of the afternoon drinking beer and eating whatever fried things I can place my grubby paws on, while I watch as many football games at once as I can. I break for dinner and then watch the late game, usually at a friend's house. The boyfriend -- god bless his soul -- has been using this time to work on various knitting projects, thus rewarding my gluttony with scarves, hats, and other winter-wear.
I'm pretty psyched about the Colts this year, as any sane Colts fan would be. Whether the Colts offense is as potent as it has been in the past remains to be seen, but it's pretty clear that it's going to be damned potent and, alongside an ever improving defense, it should be enough to keep the Colts in the elite of the league. Whether Marvin will come back full seems unclear, but I like the idea of Gonzalez continuing to mature as a quality third option. I'll also be interested to see if their formidable home-field advantage persists absent the cloistered intensity of the RCA dome.
Meanwhile, the stupidest thing I've read so far about the rapidly approaching regular season is Gregg Easterbrook's comment on the Patriots:
Here's a question: Would the Patriots' players and coaches exchange their 2007 season with the 2007 season of the Giants? Of course, in public, to a man, they'd say, "Forget the records we set, we'd rather have won the Super Bowl." But my guess is that they'd rather have their 2007 season, oh-so-incomplete as it was, than the Giants' trophy. Twenty years from now, football purists will be hard-pressed to remember much about the 2007 Giants. The 2007 Patriots, on the other hand, will never be forgotten. The first 16-0 regular season; the highest-scoring team in football history; more touchdown passes than Buffalo, Miami, Minnesota and San Francisco combined; 39 seconds shy of perfection. In terms of memory power, New England's accomplishments exceeded what the Giants did, even if Jersey/A got to stand in the confetti shower on the sliding tray in Arizona. All New England needed to do was stop a third-and-11 snap with 45 seconds showing, and the word "perfect" would have shimmered into view. The snap was not stopped, because nobody's ever been 19-0 and most likely nobody ever will be. But to come so close -- that will not be forgotten.
I'll be the first to admit that last years Patriot's team was a terrifying behemoth. Indeed, Patriot-haters everywhere -- and I count myself proudly so -- were lucky to escape the season without the Lombardi trophy heading back to Foxboro. That said, the fact that New England failed, while memorable, isn't the sort of thing for which you want to be remembered. The 2007 New England Patriots will be remembered in twenty years, even fifty years. They will be remembered as an unbelievably talented, skillful, and arrogant team that, due to a psychologically taxing and foolish season strategy, did not win a superbowl.
Indeed, they will remembered primarily for the sheer stupidity of their strategy and the size of their choke in the Superbowl precisely because of how much more talented, skilled, and arrogant they were then every other team in the league. This accentuates not their ambition, but the folly of their failure. It magnifies their hubris and reveals the fundamental tragedy of their character. Some will argue that their tragic nature is somehow heroic, but this ignores the fact that they were villains, not heroes to anyone who was paying attention. The New England Patriots were supervillains undone by the fantastic sizes of their egos. They are a moral warning to all future NFL teams.
Anyone who says they would like to be remembered in this fashion, rather than, say, for winning the Superbowl is either lying or stupid.