IN A HALF-century of watching NFL games, I have seen literally thousands of them - on TV. I have gone to, maybe, five NFL games in person.
The NFL is remarkable in that it has a hold on so many fans, including millions who never will see a single game live, in-stadium. And, with changing dynamics and better technology, Couch Slouch now poses a simple question:
Why would you ever go to a game again?
Home is better.
I was ahead of the curve on this baby since I was in fourth grade, folks. My buddies would go out to play kick the can or stickball after school and come back all worn out and scraped up; I stayed in watching "Bowling for Dollars" and guilted my mother into making me two grilled cheese sandwiches 45 minutes before dinner.
Here's a brief list of in-home advantages:
1. No traffic.
2. No stadium concession pricing.
3. No drunks.
4. No lines into the bathroom.
5. If you run out of Dr. Brown's Diet Black Cherry, your stepson with the newly minted driver's license can run out and get you another six-pack.
When you go to an NFL game, you're surrounded by people who, if they were with you on a cruise, you would JUMP OFF THE SHIP. I went to a Raiders-Chargers game once; I would've felt safer at a Manson family reunion.
(Column Intermission I: My stepson Isaiah Eisendorf's Springbrook High football team is 2-3. The Blue Devils had to forfeit a victory due to an ineligible player - the punter. An ineligible punter in high school? What, Barry Switzer's on staff as special teams coach?)
(Column Intermission II: By the way, congratulations to Isaiah's friend and teammate, defensive end Alex Evans, headed to East Carolina on scholarship. At the moment, Isaiah is headed to Chipotle.)
In addition to all the hassle and stress of going to the stadium and watching in the stadium, the fact of the matter is: The view at home is superior. This became true the day instant replay was invented, allowing you to see any given play again, and in slow motion. It's now truer than ever because of HDTV.
High-definition TV makes real life look like a blurry mess. Now, I grew up with snow and double images on the set, so the NFL on HDTV feels as if they're playing in my living room, about to walk off the flat screen and into my life like Jeff Daniels in "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
The in-home vs. in-stadium divide is increasingly a challenge to NFL teams, more so for a franchise like the woeful, small-market Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-14 last season and 0-5 this season.