Nick Chubb, Tyreek Hill, Juju Smith-Schuster . . . as I saw the familiar names pile up in my fantasy roster last night, tears ran down my face. The clock ticked down. I picked Tom Brady in the fifth round. I let out a muffled sob. I knew that the first connection he makes with Gronk this season will also bring me to tears.
J.J.Watt, Zach Ertz, Lamar Jackson. I had missed these guys. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t personally know any football players. But I feel like I do. And there was a long time during which I didn’t think they would be coming back. I truly didn’t think football would happen this year. And watching the Texans and the Chiefs play tonight is everything I need emotionally right now.
Maybe I was crying because it was the first fantasy draft I’ve ever done sober (don’t judge me — I usually have a Labor Day fantasy draft BBQ complete with homemade watermelon margaritas), but I also felt like I got the best roster ever. As my players piled up, though, I realized that maybe I was just happy to see their names.
When the world seems to be ending, football seems to be such a superfluous thing. My entire state of California is burning, millions of people are dying, and I am wholly embarrassed by my country. And then there are the small things, too. My son won’t see his grandparents in person for his entire second year and I miss the experience of dining out. I think that many of us just need something to cheer for.
Football is special to me. I watched it with my dad and my husband and I are dedicated fans of college (USC) and NFL (Giants, KC, Packers, Texans). The beginning of football season ushers in pumpkin spice lattes, preparations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and the chill in the air that makes you cuddle your loved ones by the fire.
That was also why I was crying. None of these things will be the same this year. I heard a rumor yesterday that “Halloween is cancelled in Los Angeles”, we’ll probably be eating turkey and cranberry sauce at home after it’s delivered by Instacart, and who knows if we will physically see any relatives on Christmas. I’ll even sip my pumpkin spice latte after I take off the lid (because I don’t want to accidentally ingest any germs).
Nothing is normal. And it won’t be for a long time. I’m wiping tears even as I’m writing this paragraph. This year is so hard for so many people in so many ways. And the simple fact that at 5:20pm tonight (PST) there will be a little something that 2020 has not taken away from us yet . . . well, it makes me cry.
I don’t know if they’re happy tears or sad tears. Tears of grief or tears of gratitude. I think it’s mostly gratitude. I wish I could call all of these players and tell them thank you. Thank you for bringing a little happiness to our homes. Thank you for giving us all one thing to look forward to. And thank you for being my 2020 security blanket.