No, I’m not talking about any of the various aborted (but sure to return!) attempts at weekly football columns on this site. I’m talking about Alex Pappademas’ “I Suck at Football” column, which ran on Grantland’s sports blog, The Triangle, on a weekly basis during the 2012 and 2013 NFL seasons.
I still remember reading Pappademas’ first column in the then-unnamed series. On September 24, 2012, he published the first post, entitled “Nuclear Physics, Bloody Marys, and Bengals: A First Trip to a Sports Bar.” On Monday of this week, he posted what’s likely– though unconfirmed– to be the final entry: “I Suck at Football, Week 18: The Barrel-of-Fun Room.”
The column’s basic tenets emerge in the inaugural article:
On Sunday my friend Richard Feynman took me out to drink and watch football at 10 in the morning. My friend Richard Feynman’s name isn’t really Richard Feynman, but I’ve decided to give every real person in my I Suck At Liking Football journal the name of a famous theoretical physicist, because this sport is still basically quantum mechanics to me. So on Sunday Richard Feynman’s wife took their son to choir practice and (metaphors!) Richard Feynman and I went to football-church, in a sports bar on Vermont Avenue.
Not only did Pappademas not have a favorite football team, he hardly understood the sport itself, or even how to be a fan of it (as evidenced by the originally named “I Suck At Liking Football journal”). By the end of the opening offering, he has picked a favorite team– the Cincinnati Bengals– and begun to deal with the unfamiliar challenges of existing in a sports bar, Ye Rustic, at 10:00 am on a Sunday.
“I Suck at Football” is a crude name for an elegant collection of writing. Every week offered an unpredictable mix of unanticipated portions of life and football. For you, the beauty of this is that, if you’re hearing about this column for the first time, you haven’t missed out: these articles aren’t game really recaps, and you probably didn’t watch the Bengals that week anyway.
Somewhere along the line, I can’t find where now, Pappademas appeared to suggest that this journal would be a two-season affair, and this week’s post has an air of finality to it:
I sat awake by the fire and realized my emotions didn’t really exist. They were just something my brain happened to be doing at that moment. Brain-weather. I was the one deciding to let them consume me. And I should have known that, because watching bad Bengals football taught me that lesson over and over. I felt frustration, anger, disappointment — and then I could stop feeling it, because it was just a TV show, and whether Dalton threw three interceptions or 300 changed nothing about my life outside Ye Rustic.
Thanks to the website redesign Grantland undertook sometime in the past twenty-four hours, there isn’t an easy way to view this series in one place. For now, your best bet may be to cycle through Pappademas’ full-site author archive, which contains a bunch of other stuff too. It’s worth the effort.