IN A HALF-century of watching NFL games, I have seen literally thousands of them - on TV. I have gone to, maybe, five NFL games in person.The NFL is remarkable in that it has a hold on so many fans, including millions who never will see a single game live, in-stadium. And, with changing dynamics and better technology, Couch Slouch now poses a simple question:Why would you ever go to a game again?Home is better.
I was ahead of the curve on this baby since I was in fourth grade, folks. My buddies would go out to play kick the can or stickball after school and come back all worn out and scraped up; I stayed in watching "Bowling for Dollars" and guilted my mother into making me two grilled cheese sandwiches 45 minutes before dinner.Here's a brief list of in-home advantages:1. No traffic.2. No stadium concession pricing.3. No drunks.4. No lines into the bathroom.5. If you run out of Dr. Brown's Diet Black Cherry, your stepson with the newly minted driver's license can run out and get you another six-pack.
When you go to an NFL game, you're surrounded by people who, if they were with you on a cruise, you would JUMP OFF THE SHIP. I went to a Raiders-Chargers game once; I would've felt safer at a Manson family reunion.(Column Intermission I: My stepson Isaiah Eisendorf's Springbrook High football team is 2-3. The Blue Devils had to forfeit a victory due to an ineligible player - the punter. An ineligible punter in high school? What, Barry Switzer's on staff as special teams coach?)(Column Intermission II: By the way, congratulations to Isaiah's friend and teammate, defensive end Alex Evans, headed to East Carolina on scholarship. At the moment, Isaiah is headed to Chipotle.)In addition to all the hassle and stress of going to the stadium and watching in the stadium, the fact of the matter is: The view at home is superior. This became true the day instant replay was invented, allowing you to see any given play again, and in slow motion. It's now truer than ever because of HDTV.
High-definition TV makes real life look like a blurry mess. Now, I grew up with snow and double images on the set, so the NFL on HDTV feels as if they're playing in my living room, about to walk off the flat screen and into my life like Jeff Daniels in "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
The in-home vs. in-stadium divide is increasingly a challenge to NFL teams, more so for a franchise like the woeful, small-market Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-14 last season and 0-5 this season.The Jaguars are spending $63 million next year on improvements to their stadium, including two new end zone video scoreboards that will be the largest in the world - even larger than the flat screen at LeBron James' crib in Akron.In an attempt to boost attendance to the Indianapolis-Jacksonville contest last week, the Jaguars had a three-hour promotion on Twitter in which fans buying a $45 game ticket would get two free Bud Light beers; another misstep by management there - if they were offering free PBR in a can, I would've been on a Greyhound bus into town faster than you can say "Blaine Gabbert pick."Most notably, the Jaguars have built a 7,000-square-foot fantasy football lounge at EverBank Field, luring ticket holders to essentially sit in a sports bar in front of a bank of TVs showing other NFL action. The field of play is only partly visible from areas of the lounge.In other words, you pay to come to the game to watch other games instead.
That's the equivalent of going to the White House and, rather than meeting the president in the Oval Office, watching "Air Force One" on DVD in the Situation Room.So I ask the fine denizens of Jacksonville: Why bother? Stay at home like me, order NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV and - who knows? - Hooters might even deliver.Ask The SlouchQ. Can I win $1.25 just by reminding your readers that the Kansas City Chiefs were your NFL Team of Destiny? (Mary Walsh; Oak Park, Ill.)A. Actually, I took the Chiefs and the perpetually puzzling Cowboys, but, yes, we are wiring you the correct prize funds.Q. Was that really Larry King subbing for Keith Olbermann on "Olbermann" last week lobbying for an electronic strike zone? (Peter Browne; Carmel, Ind.)A. That was Larry King in the flesh. Apparently, Arthur Godfrey was unavailable.Q. The 49ers' Donte Whitner is now Donte Hitner. Shouldn't Couch Slouch become Couch Grouch? (Jim Napoli; Reston, Va.)A. If Donte Whitner had any conscience, he'd go the whole nine yards and change his name to Late Hitner.Q. If Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods ever break up, would you write that it had been a slippery slope or an unplayable lie? (Jack Leininger; Spokane, Wash.)A. Pay the man, Shirley.You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!