T.G.I.F.- Total Gridiron Insanity = Football!
It's grandpa, son and grandson, chatting contentedly about catches, and not referring to their significant others or fish.
It's heads, covered in sweat and steaming in near-freezing temperatures, their owners breathing hard and just waiting, like predators, to get back in the game.
This is Friday Night Football.
It's not an event, it's an experience. It is something to be enjoyed with all the five senses- feeling the cold October air on your face, smelling the mixture of mud and grass, tasting the tangy barbecue sauce, seeing the mass of purple or gold or red or blue, hearing the sound of helmet hitting helmet.
And I get to be there, on the sidelines, up close and personal with the teams, hearing the players encourage each other, listening to the coaches swear under their breath (or sometimes not so under their breath).
I get to capture it on film, catching moments of greatness, surprise, defeat, victory, heartbreak, and exhileration. And that's just in the first quarter.
There is nothing like going to a town of 4-5,ooo people, 98 percent of which are at the game (while the other 2% man the gas stations and lone McDonald's in town), bedecked in their teams colors, ready to cheer at every pass, run, kick, punt and tackle.
As I stand there on the sidelines, there are so many moments of fleeting exhilaration, from knowing I just caught a pass perfectly on camera, to the excitement of seeing a player rushing right towards the spot on the sidelines currently occupied by myself, hoping he comes close enough for a great highlight but stops short of running right into my legs. And even as he draws closer, my concern is not for my fragile bones, but for the camera on my shoulder that's worth more than my car (I know, doesn't sound like much, but a few thousand-dollar camera isn't easy to replace).
I love the feeling knowing I just caught a touchdown run/pass perfectly, and even love/hate the feeling knowing the offense just duped the defense (and me), making me lose track of who has the ball.
I love watching the scrub teams as much as the champion teams- hoping each play that the former might finally score a touchdown before halftime, enjoying the latter's perfect play execution every single time.
It's unfair, in a way, that the people who have cheered for the team so long don't get to be as close to the action as I do- I, who will likely never be back to that town for the rest of the season, get a front row seat to the battle between their sons and brothers and nephews and grandsons.
Some guys have all the luck. I like to think I'm one of those guys, at least for 10 weeks every autumn.