You can spot them right away. The Sunday football guys are the ones walking in groups, wearing jerseys, hats, and giant grins on their faces as they trot from one sports bar to another. They often have Buffalo wing sauce stains on their face and that “I haven’t seen sunlight for eight hours,” look in their eyes. They’re experiencing pure bliss.
The Sunday bag guys are the ones holding their girlfriends’ and wives’ shopping bags from Bed Bath & Beyond and Macy’s. They missed the Bears-Texans game in Week 17 because there was a 50% Sale at TJ Maxx. Needless to say, they’re never quite as happy.
This weekend? We’re all Sunday bag guys and boy, does it sting.
No football after 25 straight Sundays of glorious pigskin action (yes, I count the preseason) is like enjoying the beaches of Maui for six months, only to be dropped off in Antarctica for a quick dose of reality. Though we’d like to think we can stomach a weekend in January without the NFL, it’s just not that easy. We’re a spoiled group, us football fans, and even one weekend without the sounds of Shannon Sharpe’s voice or the sight of 350-pound men sweating profusely under motorized mobile fans gets us flustered and depressed.
Face it, we’re all bag guys this Sunday. And if you don’t have a woman to drag you around from store to store or children to tend to, it’s just an empty day, a Sunday you’ll probably forget. Wanted to catch up on this season of VH1’s “Tool Academy”? Now’s your chance. Haven’t gotten a chance to see “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”? I guess that’s an option, too. Sanjaya from “American Idol” apparently has a new book out. Might want to get your reading glasses on and breeze through that puppy.
Just writing that paragraph made me long for the FOX robot doing calisthenics on the bottom of my TV screen.
The average Joe sports fan isn’t the only one feeling the sting this weekend. Kevin Hooshangi is the owner of The Village Pourhouse, a popular sports bar in Manhattan.
“For the last twenty weeks, our bar has been doing more than double the normal Sunday business,” he said. “It’s not just for the local fans either. The bar is full of people watching their fantasy teams, teams from other cities, games they bet on, watching to see if the Lions would go 0-16, and all the other various drama. After that, the playoffs were responsible for another spike in business. Now, for the first time since the summer, we will have no NFL-related business at the bar.
“By Thursday of a normal week, I have 90 percent of the bar reserved for Sunday. This week, I haven’t taken one reservation. I’ve tried to reach out to the hockey fans I know and there has been zero interest in the NHL All-Star Game.”
The NHL All-Star Game? The one where the player who received the most votes isn’t even playing? The one being broadcasted on a cable station I don’t get?
“To be honest, I’ll probably be pretty bored this Sunday,” Hooshangi said. “I’ll try to come up with different music playlists for pregame and commercials for the Super Bowl and next season. I might also try to clean out the rack that houses our DirecTV boxes and all the computers that run our sound system. Yeah, this Sunday won’t be so crazy.”
Hooshangi and his bar-owning brethren aren’t alone. Vegas and the online sports gambling sites are all but dead this weekend. According to Reed Richards of BetUs.com, the MMA fight on Saturday night got the biggest action on his site this weekend. Yes, an MMA fight.
There are dust bolls breezing down the Vegas strip this weekend.
Next week, of course, Vegas insider RJ Bell tells me, “They’ll make up for it. The Super Bowl is the biggest single-day sports betting event of the year. Over $10 billion is expected to be wagered on Super Bowl XLIII, by more than 200 million individuals worldwide.”
But this Sunday? The Forum Shops at Caesar’s — hey, bag guys! — will be far busier than the sportsbooks.
My advice? Savor and cherish this Sunday as a chance to catch your breath before the onslaught. Rest assured, the next seven days will be Super Bowl coverage 24-7. Trust me, you’ll read 50 different stories about Larry Fitzgerald’s father (he’s a sportswriter! And he’s covering his son!), probably see two or three dozen Rachel Nichols pieces on how much Matt Leinart has matured since the beer-bong party, and at least a couple of in-depth profiles on Kurt Warner’s wife. Super Bowl overload is about to begin. Take Sunday to gear up.
Face the music, guys. We’re all bag guys this Sunday. There’s no avoiding it.
Hopefully, there are some decent sales at TJ Maxx.
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