Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Week's Reprieve

Well, thanks in large part to Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder, Jared Allen, et. al., our beloved 49ers have an extra week to rest and heal before postseason play begins.  Justin Smith, for one, will have had nearly a full month of rehabilitation and rest by the time they tee it up at Candlestick sometime over the weekend of January 12-13, and, as the song goes, you know that can't be bad.  In a few days we'll enjoy a full weekend of games which are guaranteed not to make us cry or swear off Tabasco sauce for life. Four teams will move on, four teams will go home, and none of them are our beloved Niners. So let's everybody exhale-- all together now-- and resolve to enjoy ourselves with no worries.

Meanwhile, for those of you belatedly leaping on the bandwagon now that the "second season" is underway, here's your chance to blend in and ingratiate yourself with the hard-core football junkies who've been living and dying with the scarlet and gold all their borned days. As every true fan knows, there's nothing more phony than some dilettante/wannabe cluelessly spouting what he or she thinks is "football jargon" while we're busy watching the play-action fake on the field.

The key to seamlessly blending in and rendering yourself indistinguishable from your newly-found football-fanatic friends is to keep what comments you do make short, blunt, and, most importantly, casually tossed off like Shakespearean asides.  Rather than calling unwanted attention to yourself and your incomplete knowledge of the intricate proceedings, these remarks will simply contribute to the overall flow of the action without provoking criticism or even attention. Good football-fan commentary is the Muzak of the game, and to that end, we offer the following suggestions. (Note: if up until this moment you have regarded Sunday afternoons in late autumn as perfect occasions for the ballet or the symphony, this guide is not for you. Some basic knowledge of the game-- distinguishing offense from defense, for example, or being able to tell a run from a pass--  is assumed. If that's not you, resign yourself to being the "weirdo" in the room, and try using it to your advantage. Remember, some chicks dig the arty, sensitive types.)

For the rest of you: Read, practice, and memorize. Soon you too will sound like a seasoned, knowledgeable fan.

Running Plays:
"He's carryin' the ball like a loaf of bread."
"Just lookin' for a place to fall down."
"Good block!"
"Protect the football!"
"They're trying to tackle the football, not the guy."
"Hah. Ran into his own man."

Passing Plays:
"He's got all day."  (Alternate with, "No pressure." For variety, occasionally switch to, "Hey, he's gonna be sacked!") 
"That guy's wide open."
"Get rid of it!"
"HOLDING!" (Avoid when your team has the ball.)
(Any incomplete pass)  "Lucky it wasn't intercepted."
(After a dropped pass) "He was runnin' with it before he caught it."

Any Play:
(Just as the ball is snapped)  "Hey, that guy's lined up offsides."
"Clip! Clip!"  (Avoid when your team has the ball.)
"He's not all that fast, but he is quick."
"Quit runnin' sideways, you idiot."
"That's holding!"  (Now, occasionally someone will challenge you and say, "Holding? Offensive or defensive?" Unless you're really sure of yourself, the best all-purpose answer to such a question is, "Both.") 
"Watch the play clock."
"Throw a flag!"  (If questioned, wave it off with, "Aaaah, refs didn't see it.")
(After a play with no gain) "Well, that didn't fool anybody." 
(Before any kick, except the extra point)  "Watch out for the fake."
(Play goes your team's way) "It's about time that worked!"
(Play goes the other team's way) "Isn't there a flag on that?"
When your team is losing, shake your head and say, "They can't get outta their own way."
When your team is winning, clap your hands and say, "Okay, guys! Gotta keep the pressure on."
When someone says, "Plenty of time left," nod sagely and reply, "For both teams."

You're welcome.  Break a leg!

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