Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kicking the Football Habit Is Hell

Do you have any of these symptoms?

Maybe you're cranky, snapping at everybody for no reason, listless, a bit depressed. Even worse, are you constantly staring aimlessly into space, experiencing a knawing feeling in the pit of your stomach or breaking into tears every hour or so? And you don't know what's bothering you.

Think about it. What's not there now, something that's occupied your weekends since late August? It's football--you're missing football. With the Super Bowl now history, this is the first weekend without football. It's a horrble, unpleasant, empty feeling. You're going through pigskin withdrawal. That's what's ailing you. Turn on the TV and there's no current football games, no pigskin comfort. Oh, what a pain.

For some people this is really serious business. I know a hard-core football gambler who, for a month after football, suffers intense stomach aches and a bad case of the shakes. Call him for the next few weeks and he doesn't even answer the phone. Ever see the 1955 Frank Sinatra drama "The Man With the Golden Arm" or the 1962 movie, "Days of Wine and Roses," starring Jack Lemmon? The Sinatra character was a junkie who eventually slogged through an ugly heroin withdrawal, while Lemmon played a drunk forced to endure the same agony when he kicked the booze habit. My gambler pal doesn't suffer at that level, but it's still high-level misery.

How do you treat it? There's really no remedy. One possible answer is to get your football fix in other ways. Some guys watch classic football games on ESPN or wallow in whatever programming is being offered on the NFL Network. Others, with foresight, tape games during the season and watch them when the withdrawal symptoms are too painful to endure, particularly during the first few weeks after the Super Bowl.

How about spending the extra time reading or involving yourself in a hobby? I know another football fanatic who spends the football off-season doing charity work. Of maybe you'll spend more time with your wife, family or girl friend. These are the people who generally get neglected when you're buried in football.

There are remedies to avoid. One unwholesome buddy stays drunk during most of the football off-season. Strangely, he doesn't touch a drop during the season. Another, a dedicated family man in the fall and early winter, handles his pigskin withdrawal by burying himself in two mistresses.

Be smart. Manage your withdrawal sensibly. Follow the good guy's route. Don't take the degenerate's way out.