The NFL playoffs start tomorrow. It's been a brilliant and weird season and the playoffs are sure to throw up something unexpected. Here's our guide for preparing yourself.
1. Take a deep breath.
2. Remember this:
Tracy Porter's interception of the Colts' Peyton Manning, one of the most dramatic plays in NFL history, effectively sealed SuperBowl 44 for the Saints. Both teams are in the playoffs, though both are worse than they were last season. A concussed Colts host the Jets Saturday night while the Saints travel to Seattle to play the absolutely desperate Seahawks.
3. Watch any Mike Vick-related highlight footage on Youtube, though we prefer the following clip from early in the 2010 season:
The Eagles and Packers, arguably the two best teams in the NFC, play in Philly on Sunday on what is likely to be a mammoth occasion. Worth staying up for.
4. Read Chuck Klosterman's essay on the awesomeness of American Football. You might think NFL is played by neanderthals and coached by neocons, but the truth is far more complicated. Allow me one quote:
This is the genius of the NFL, and it is how they came to power long before they had their own network: The league can always make people think they're having the specific experience they desire, even if they're actually experiencing the opposite. Pete Rozelle -- the greatest sports commissioner in world history -- did this better than anyone. He convinced America that football was conservative. During the 1970s, he tried to stop NFL players from having long locks and facial hair, and he mostly succeeded (and even when he failed -- as with the Jets' Joe Namath and the miscreants on the Raiders -- those failures worked to the league's advantage by appealing to the antiauthority minority). He created a seamless relationship with NFL Films, an organization that specialized in cinematically lionizing the most old-school elements of the game (blood, mud, the frozen breath of Fran Tarkenton, Jack Lambert's missing teeth, etc.). He fostered the idea of the Dallas Cowboys as "America's team," led by a devout Catholic quarterback who had served in Vietnam. He made football replace baseball in every meaningful, nationalistic way. And he did this while simultaneously convincing all the league's owners to adopt revenue sharing, arguably the most successful form of socialism in U.S. history.
5. Consider this Ray Lewis ad. Dudes are talking about executing Mike Vick, but Ray Lewis, who was arrested for murder in 2000, is doing psychadelic, bird riding ads for Old Spice. Lewis and the Ravens take on the Chiefs on Sunday.
6. On Youtube, search Rex Ryan Foot Fetish parody. Below you'll find our favourite one, as it involves another American professional athlete (baseball player Craig Breslow) taking the piss out of the Jets' coach and his foot fetish.
7. Think 'Isn't it strange that a blog post meant to generate interest in a sport features an athletic genius who spent 2 years in federal prison for killing dogs, a man tried for murder who rides in birds in commercials and a head coach with a foot fetish?' What other sport in the world gives us so many eccentrics?