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Football? No thanks, I'll just stand over here

All my rowdy friends won't be coming over tonight.

Or tomorrow, either, and not the weekend.

Part of the reason is that they are in terrible health because they are getting old at a rapid pace. Another part is because they were, in fact, quite rowdy at one time. That stuff has a way of catching up with people.

Football has been our excuse to get together the last few years. Several us from college get together to eat and draft fantasy football teams and talk trash.

One year it was like a nursing home visit. I wasn't long out of the hospital, one guy was on his second hip replacement, another was using a walker, and the fittest of the bunch had just scheduled an EKG for the coming week.

I wasn't able to go this year, but I doubt they missed me. Those guys really love football. I do not.

On Sunday, there was a stretch when I was at church and missed 49 text messages because it was opening day for the NFL. It continued through the Monday night games.

I've become grouchy over football. I have my reasons.

For years, I liked the Washington Redskins and the New England Patriots. The last time the Redskins had any true success, I was a newlywed fresh out of college.

The Redskins were so bad for so long, my kids asked me how did I become a fan if they'd been terrible most of my life?

The best I could tell them is that their mama grew up near D.C. and ... I sort of trailed off after that and mumbled something about John Riggins.

I always liked the Patriots for a much nerdier reason.

I'm one of those crazy people who still think the Founding Fathers were great men. The Patriots had a uniformed Minute Man preparing to hike a football as their mascot.

The Patriots were terrible for a long time and then drafted Drew Bledsoe, a guy I really liked. I was less than thrilled when he lost his job to some guy named Tom Brady.

Brady turned out okay, what with winning six Super Bowls, but honestly, I've come to like him mostly because most football fans hate him. He's slow and in his forties and he's still the best player in the league -- what's not to like?

I just don't enjoy the game like I used to. Maybe it's because my nephews and I stopped playing our Thanksgiving game, the Bean Bowl.

College football is no better. I blame part of that on East Carolina.

I grew up a UNC fan, but once a person attends ECU, certain feelings arise in regards to UNC, sort of like I suppose a spouse would feel after finding out their other half had secret multiple families in Utah. It just ain't cool.

Things were fine when ECU was having its big runs beating more ACC teams in a season than most of the teams in the ACC.

However, complaining about the ACC snubbing ECU will only go so far. And then ECU hit the skids.

While professional athletes can say and do some bad things, it seems football players have had an inordinate amount of bad publicity in recent years.

There was the dogfighter. One was convicted of murder and a couple of others accused. For a while it seemed like someone was getting in a bar fight, shooting someone or beating someone up, including wives and girlfriends. The punishment my boy Brady got for maybe or maybe not letting some air out of footballs was more severe than what some of the criminals got. Don't even get me started about the national anthem fiasco.

Then there was too much football. Raleigh had an Arena Team one time. I went to a game once and felt like I'd been trapped in a music video shot at Hooters and the final score was something like 74-62. Remember the pro wrestling/football hybrid XFL? How about the league for women where they played in their underwear?

There are also the gruesome injuries and disregard for safety, as well as the exhausting showboating after every play. There was a quarterback (who shall remain nameless) that once did a Superman imitation every time he made a big play, even if his team was down 30.

So, yeah, I've gotten grouchy about football. One of my terrible teams is still terrible, and the other is quite good, but I'm told I'm not allowed to enjoy it. My favorite college team has been unwatchable the last three years.

And my buddies get so much enjoyment out of football, I guess their happiness is too much to take.

Maybe Bobby Boucher's mama had it right in "Waterboy." Maybe football is the devil.

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