Watching football players get knocked unconscious is the best. It can even form friendships. Besides, who knows how much longer we will be able to enjoy such a thing?

You see, there was this guy. I saw him at work. I saw him at the bar. Our eyes would briefly meet sometimes. He seemed okay.

The thing about meeting new people in a new city is that you have to get drunk, and to depend on that liquid courage to fuel your asking them for their phone number — there really isn’t two ways about it. So one night I got drunk. I approached mystery person. He was tall, with glasses. I asked him if he watched football. He said that he did. I judged him immediately. He was tall, with glasses — there was no way he actually watched football like myself – that is to say, in an uneducated and enthusiastic fashion. But I told myself to give him a chance. We exchanged numbers. He must have also been drunk. It was to be the start of a successful friendship that eventually led to the founding of this blog.

The following Sunday — the first football Sunday in football season — we found ourselves in what can only be described as a crawling jungle of man: that’s right, a sports bar with NFL Sunday Ticket. If you have never experienced a bar with Sunday Ticket, then you must not like football. And if you don’t like football, don’t ever go to a bar with NFL Sunday TIcket.

Around 14 (usually) enormous televisions throb football. You position your self in front of the game you would like to watch. That is, if you came early enough. You watch your game. When commercials happen, or a ruckus erupts in a general area, you watch moments of other games. Men yell. Women scream. Women yell. Men Scream. Everybody watches football.

Being on the west coast adds a dimension of madness to this already mad endeavor: games kick off at ten in the morning, far earlier than any sports should be watched, particularly those sports that are close acquaintances with drinking.

I cannot drink beers at ten AM, which put me in the minority at the GO Sports Bar in Old Oakland that day. People were getting drunk. New friend and I ordered plates of food that somehow qualified as brunch — piss poor egg sandwiches as I remember — and enjoyed it thoroughly. The Browns played a shockingly close game, considering that Brandon Weeden got lost under an American flag — a predicament all Browns fans now wish he had never escaped from– prior to going 12-35 for 118 yards, whilst throwing the football into the opposing team’s hands on four separate occasions. Some might call that a harbinger. I just call it Brandon Weeden.

As the Browns met their customary fate, the gentlemen sitting across from us were intent on the New England Patriots-Tennessee Titans game that was playing behind us. They were Patriots fans. From Nantucket. One wore a Ben Coates jersey. The other, a Sam Gash jersey. I hate Patriots fans, which is a problem, because the majority of my football-following friends are Patriots fans. I have learned to coexist with them, especially when they are wearing jerseys of guys like Ben Coates and Sam Gash, jerseys that affirm a long history of Patriotism.

As the Cleveland Browns were characteristically awful in front of us, the Patriots were characteristically dominant on the TV behind us. They were up 28-10 in the fourth quarter when every football fan’s best nightmare came true: a dude got knocked the fuck out.

“DEAD! THAT MAN IS DEAD ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD!”

We quickly turned around to catch the replay.

“WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT…” Sam Gash encouraged us.

“DEAD! DEAD ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD” he again screamed, as the corpse of Nate Washington went crashing to the ground, in glorious slow-motion. Copious replays ensued. It did appear that he might be dead. On the football field.

Much like us, alerted by the screaming Sam Gash, the whole bar watched in awe, the kind of awe only inspired by football players being crushed into a coma by other football players: equal parts giddy, disgusted, elated, and concerned. You hope that the guy will get up and walk off the field –this is not just a humanitarian concern, but a selfish one as well, because as soon as somebody actually dies on the football field, the jig might be up — but you genuinely want to see the replay over and over. The television networks usually oblige.

The problem with football, as with most heavily addicting substances, is that there are real consequences to such a high. A man getting his bell rung by another guy is fucking glorious for those who are watching, and undoubtedly even more elating to the man doing the ringing of the bell. That guy gets to flex his muscles, scream really loud, or maybe even pick up the football and run for his own life. We get to stand up and yell about their mortality and leave the bar with our hangovers, concerns about what time the bus might arrive, our friends. The guy getting his bell rung gets gets helped off the football field, taking the path less traveled to certain destruction. Our interest funds his demise.

I’ve always thought that people are pussies when it comes to quitting actions that have obvious consequences. I didn’t eat meat for ten years. It wasn’t difficult. I quit smoking pot four years ago. I have never had the urge to do so since. The hard part isn’t quitting, but wanting to quit.

I don’t want to quit watching football. I enjoy it. As the NFL attempts to plug the holes in its slowly sinking ship, I will continue to watch football. As that process leads to less men proverbially “dying” on the football field, my interest, along with other people’s interest, will wain accordingly. This is not just because we are blood thirsty viewers — we are, to be sure — but because the rule changes will make the game less authentically violent, the very reason football separates itself from all other sports that people actually watch (sorry, hockey). Soon, touch football will replace the already-watered-down tackle football we watch today. And that is okay — it will signify progress — but we probably won’t enjoy watching football as much.

Until that actually happens, I will continue to watch men put their lives on the line for some weekend entertainment, forming bonds over the important questions that this fetish makes us ask about ourselves. Indeed, why do we continue to support this league that promotes the kind of brutality that will eventually lead to a man literally dying on the football field?

And when that happens, we will be watching on enormous television screens, eating sub-par food. And amidst all the chaos, somebody will recite those familiar words:

“That man is dead, dead on the football field.”