Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our #1 Fan

My dad's never been super-fanatical with pro sports. He watches all his favorite teams' games, but if he doesn't have a rooting interest, he's OK with doing chores instead.

But when it comes to his sons' games, that's another story. And today, on his 37th wedding anniversary (and the day after his 1st ever Senior Citizen Discount -- a dollar off his ticket to Up in the Air), I want to take the time to remember some of his top moments.

4) November, 2009: It wasn't that he chose Robby's football game over a birthday, it was that he chose Robby's football game over HIS birthday. His 60th, in fact: A trip to Nashville my mom had planned for months. Did it matter that as an underclassman, Robby might not get in the game? "You never know," he said.

3) October, 2003: Imagine being a benchwarming freshman on the Penn Sprint Football team, traveling over six hours to play Cornell in the freezing Ithaca rain in front of maybe 10 fans, and then finding out your dad is one of them? "Wow, thanks for coming," Greg said after the game. "You really are insane."

2) December, 1995: My dad went to every single one of my freshman basketball games. I don't think the other parents even knew the schedule. "Dad," I remember pleading. "You can't come to all my games. It's embarrassing." So he'd wait until the game started (once I was distracted), and sneak into the bleachers.

1) September 2008: But when Dad started showing up to his PepsiCo beer league softball games, Greg knew he had the winner. "We can't even get the players to show up," he'd say. Even Dad admitted he felt a bit strange watching voyeur-like from beyond the outfield.

But if Greg ended up getting the game-winning hit with two outs in the last inning, he wasn't about to miss it.

NFL Week 17 Picks
I have a theory about Week 17: Teams playing with nothing to lose fare well against teams with everything to lose. These are the games that meet my criteria:

Cleveland (-1) vs. Jacksonville (1:00 ET).
Kansas City (+13) @ Denver (4:15 ET).
Oakland (+10.5) vs. Baltimore (4:15 ET).

Last Week: TBD
Record to Date: 31-34-3

Thursday, December 24, 2009

FVG's Guide to Bowl Season

For boyfriends, watching the bowls used to be simple: There were just the right number of games, and they were all on New Year's Day -- the day the whole country lays in bed with a headache. There were no expectations from girlfriends. Just wall-to-wall, uninterrupted football.

But inevitably, college football got greedy. And greedier and greedier. Not only did they add games to the mix (from 8 in the '60s to 15 in the '80s to a whopping 34 today), they spaced them out over what's now a three-week bonanza, beginning last Saturday with Wyoming's overtime upset in the New Mexico Bowl.

So for boyfriends today, the challenge is greater than ever. The stretched-out bowl season is littered with holiday parties, family gatherings, and dinners we allegedly promised to go to. It's too much to keep track of. We have to go in with a plan.

FVG's recommendation: Look at the bowl schedule beforehand, and make a list of five to ten games you don't want to miss, along with a brief reason for why you don't want to miss them. Then take it your girlfriend, and get it approved.

Here's ours:

1) The Champs Sports Bowl (Miami vs. Wisconsin, Dec 29, 8:00 ET)
I don't know if you saw ESPN's (fantastic) documentary, 'The U', or not, but I know Miami's players did. And when those impressionable young men see the way their predecessors took college football by storm with their dominant play and excessive celebration, they're gonna be inspired...and we'll be in for a show. FVG Pick: Miami -3

2) The Sun Bowl (Oklahoma vs. Stanford, Dec 31, 2:00 ET)
Lindsey's team vs. "Great White Hope" Gerhart. I get a free pass on this one, but even if I didn't, this'll still be a fun one to watch before before New Year's Eve hoopla commences. FVG Pick: Oklahoma -8

3) The Capital One Bowl
(Penn State vs. LSU, Jan 1, 1:00 ET)
What else are you gonna do, get out of bed? FVG Pick: LSU +3

4) The Rose Bowl
(Ohio State vs. Oregon, Jan 1, 4:30 ET)
Enjoy this better-than-usual (and finally USC-less) Granddaddy of Them All as you continue to nurse your granddaddy of a hangover. FVG Pick: Oregon -3.5

5) The Sugar Bowl (Cincinnati vs. Florida, Jan 1, 8:00 ET)
I've never seen a team more outwardly pissed off at their coach than the Bearcats when Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame. They seem way more motivated than the teary-eyed, heartbroken Gators, who have no famous Tim Tebow speech to inspire them this time. FVG Pick: Cincinnati +11.5

6) The Papa Johns Bowl
(South Carolina vs. Connecticut, Jan 2, 2:00 ET)
Not to be confused with the Little Caesars Bowl, this pizza interests me for personal reasons: I want to love UConn football like I love UConn basketball. If Randy Edsall commits to the school the way Jim Calhoun did, I think it can happen. FVG Pick: UConn +4.5

7) The Fiesta Bowl
(Boise State vs. TCU, Jan 4, 8:00 ET)
I'm actually not that interested in this one, even though I know I'm supposed to be. I just don't get why they would put these two teams against each other when the whole idea is to see how they'd fare against BCS-conference teams. Maybe we'll have a dinner party that night. FVG Pick: Boise State +7

8) The BCS Championship
(Texas vs. Alabama, Jan 7, 8:00 ET)
You don't need to give a reason for this one. FVG Pick: Alabama -4

Last Week: 2-1
Record to Date: 31-34-3

Friday, December 18, 2009

January 30-31 -- The Perfect FVG Weekend Getaway

I want to tell you in advance of an opportunity to sweep your girlfriend off her feet, and whisk her away for a weekend of fun and romance.

And not miss a second of football.

There's an upcoming weekend -- Jan 30-31 -- that falls beautifully between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. So even though it's right at the NFL season's climax, there's actually no football to miss.

(I know, this year they're doing the Pro Bowl that weekend. But the Pro Bowl's only real purpose is to make you wish you were in Hawaii. And it's not even in Hawaii this year. So now it has no purpose.)

And don't worry about your cover getting blown: It would never occur to her you were crazy (or smart) enough to think that far ahead about the NFL schedule. She'll just tell her friends what a thoughtful, romantic, handsome boyfriend she has.

So be 'spontaneous'. Last year I surprised Lindsey with a trip to Charleston. We had the best time. We still talk about it. And every time we do, I earn points.

This year we all got into the act: Chad, Devin, Frank, Ramsey, and I are taking our girlfriends to Vermont. We're gonna ski, eat, drink, relax, make snowmen, sit by the fire, listen to music, play board games, and whatever else we feel like doing. And not even once will we consider watching football.

Aren't we just the sweetest?

Weekend Picks

Dallas (+7.5) @ New Orleans (Sat 8:20 ET). Maybe playing away from their angry mob of fans will do the 'Boys some good. Saints are 1-5 ATS in their last six against the NFC.

Kansas City (-1)
vs. Cleveland (Sun 1:00 ET). A bad team coming off a good win with a few extra days to celebrate? Cleveland's gonna lay an egg here, big time.

Miami (+4) @ Tennessee (Sun 1:00 ET). I understand why Miami's not favored, but this team kicks it into another gear down the stretch. It's awesome.

Last Week: 2-2
Record to Date: 29-33-1

Friday, December 11, 2009

Why I Like the Dolphins

Usually when you tell someone what NFL team you root for, they follow up with something like, "Good year for you guys", or "What are you gonna do about your QB situation?" These are expected and appreciated, because they imply that the questioner approves of your choice of team, and trusts you're a good fan.

But when I tell people I root for the Miami Dolphins, I don't get follow-ups like "Nice win last week" or "Can you believe how Ricky's running?"

I get, "Why the heck do you like the Dolphins?"

And I never have a good answer. In fact, most of the time I don't even have an answer. I just get aggravated and bark something like, "I don't know, I just do."

Most fans don't realize how good they have it. All they have to worry about are wins and losses. For me, Dolphins' losses are just a part of it.

I have to justify my entire reason for being.

So why am I a Dolphins fan? After years of getting defensive and dismissing the question, I realized I honestly didn't know the answer. So I sat in my room and did some soul-searching.

Here's what I came up with:

It started with my dad. Like most kids, I rooted for who my dad rooted for. But my dad didn't have a favorite NFL team, so I decided the next logical choice was my grandparents. My mom's mom lived in Philadephia, and my dad's parents lived in Fort Lauderdale. It was the Eagles or the Dolphins.

This was where it got a little fuzzy, but in the end, I'm pretty sure it came down to an NFL mail-order catalog, and deciding what color jacket I wanted for my 8th birthday.

The picture says it all. Wow.

So from now on, I'd like to ask anyone wondering why I like the Dolphins to please refer to this post. Because while it's certainly not the best reason for liking a team, it's my reason. And it's just gonna have to do.

Whew, now I feel better.

Sort of.

Weekend Picks

Baltimore (-13)
vs. Detroit (1:00 ET). I like Baltimore taking their frustrations out on Detroit here. They're 9-0 ATS this year against teams with a losing record.

Miami (+3) @ Jacksonville (1:00 ET). Not much of a home-field advantage here. Governor Charlie Crist is pleading for Jax to draft Tim Tebow so more people will come to their games. Never a good sign.

Oakland (+1) vs. Washington (4:05 ET). Washington's played a lot better the past few weeks, but so has Oakland. I don't see how the home team is getting points here.

Arizona (-3.5) @ San Francisco (Monday Night, 8:30 ET). Arizona's 5-1 ATS on the road this year, so forget about the Painted Ladies in that silly picture, and jump on the gravy train.

Last Week: 2-1
Record to Date: 27-31-3

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Dorm

Two years ago, Chad sat me down in the living room to have a heart-to-heart. After six years of living together -- through college, Boston, and two places in New York -- he was leaving me, to move in with his girlfriend. A few months later, he packed up and left 7M.

And moved three floors downstairs, to 4J.

A year later, it was my other roommate, Devin. He really enjoyed living with me and Ramsey (who took Chad's place), he said, but it was time for him to move in with his girlfriend. He went two floors down, to 5H.

Our building had become The Dorm.

Ever since we finished college -- when we scoured the city of Boston for a six-person apartment -- my friends and I have had a tough time leaving each other. So when the time inevitably came to move in with our girlfriends, it only made sense we'd figure out a way to soften the blow.

Some of you might think it's cute. Most of you might think it's pathetic. Two years ago, I might have agreed with you. But now, having seen it in action, I'm starting to think it's genius.

Our friends' relationships are thriving. Ramsey and I watch just as many games with them as we used to. The girlfriends love the alone time. And Devin -- who's known to sleepwalk and lock himself out --  now has a three times better chance of not ending up in the hallway.

Oh, and no one paid a broker's fee.

My generation takes advantage of hindsight. We've watched half our parents' marriages end in divorce, and we get married later than they did because of it. Not surprisingly, divorce is down. We understand the advantages of easing into things. Perhaps this is our latest innovation: A way to move in...without moving out.

Tonight we're throwing an Around the World party, with a different drink in each of our rooms. Yep, just like in college. For being a loyal reader of my blog, you're more than welcome to come.

The Dorm definitely felt weird at first. But clearly, we've embraced it.

And when Judgment Day comes for you and your friends, I recommend you consider doing the same.

Weekend Picks

Cincinnati (-2)
@ Pittsburgh (12:00 ET). Cincy wasn't even supposed to be good this year, let alone undefeated and BCS bound. Enjoy Brian Kelly, Bearcat fans. He won't be around much longer.

Alabama (+6)
vs. Florida (4:00 ET). Ingram wins the Heisman, Bama wins the SEC, I hate Nick Saban even more.

Nebraska (+14.5)
vs. Texas (8:00 ET). This year's title picture has been way too neat, hasn't it? It's time for Big Red to mess things up.

Alabama-Cincinnati BCS title game, anyone? Hmmm, doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Last Week: 1-6
(I knew posting my record each week was a bad idea)
Record to Date: 25-30-3

Friday, November 27, 2009

Observations from Thanksgiving '09

My grandma's getting wilier in her old age.
My brother Greg wasn't feeling well, so Nana made him tea.....and spiked it with whiskey. She had no plans to tell him, so I didn't either.

The sides are better than the turkey.
And it's not even close. I think people only say they like turkey better because they're afraid Sarah Palin will find out, and accuse them of not being real Americans.

If this were 20 years ago, Lindsey's family would have a fresh batch of home movies.
We were at her parents' house a while back, and her mom played all her home movies for me. Every one of them was from Thanksgiving. I think it's the only day they remembered to tape. Still, it's more than I can say for my brother Robby. I think we have his first birthday, and that's it.

When speaking to senior citizens, it doesn't matter how loud you say it, you still have to say it twice.

Our family beagle, Ricky, CAN'T go 12 straight hours trying to get everyone's food.
He took a half-hour nap.

Thanksgiving is still the best holiday. Period.
Including Robby's team's thrilling 30-28 win over Greenwich, I watched 12 hours of football yesterday.

Bring it on, Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Then Along Came David

Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was challenging. Aunt Sandy and Uncle Dan would come with my three cousins, Katherine, Sarah, and Patty. The three of us boys loved football. The three of them didn't. Uncle Dan liked football, but he didn't like us.

It was football vs. family. Not a choice anyone should have to make, especially on the greatest of holidays.

Then along came David.

Six years ago, David took a liking to Katherine. Soon after that, they started dating. And soon after that, he started showing up at Thanksgiving. (They're now married.) David loved football, just like we did. And he was a Lions fan, one of the two NFL teams that play every Thanksgiving.

Suddenly, it wasn't football vs. family anymore. David wanted to watch with the boys. Katherine wanted to be with David. Sarah and Patty wanted to be with Katherine. Everyone wanted to be with the veggie dip.

And so we all sat together in the family room. The girls braided each other's hair, and the boys watched football until their eyes hurt. And Uncle Dan was happy, because he liked football, and he liked David, too.

We lived happily ever after.

Thanksgiving Weekend Picks

Illinois (+21) @ Cincinnati (Fri, 12:00 ET). I like Ron Zook in the spoiler role here. He might not win, but he'll cover the number.

Alabama (-10) @ Auburn (Fri, 2:30 ET). These are the lines Bama's been covering all year (and I've mostly been on the wrong end of).

Pittsburgh (-1) @ West Virginia (Fri, 7:00 ET). Two straight picks for the two worst Dolphins' coaches ever? I'm not happy about it, but I don't think the Backyard Brawl will be much of a fight.

Boise State (-12) vs. Nevada (Fri, 10:00 ET). I'll take the team trying to score BCS style points to cover a big spread.

Florida State (+25) @ Florida (Sat, 3:30 ET). Tebow's last home game, blah blah blah. This is still Florida State, not Florida International. 25 points is too much.

Georgia Tech (-7) vs. Georgia (Sat, 8:00 ET). This doesn't mean I'm not sad about UGA VII, though. He was a good dawg.

UCLA (+13) @ USC (Sat, 10:00 ET). Why fight it? USC now 2-8 ATS...

Last Week: 4-1
Record to Date: 24-24-3

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Robert Pattinson: The Worst Basketball Player I've Ever Seen

On Friday Night, Twilight: The New Moon, starring Robert Pattinson, opens in theaters nationwide. Six gazillion teenage girls will go see it. Most will shriek the entire time. If your girlfriend's under the age of 50, she's probably heard of him. If she's under the age of 25, she's probably in love with him.

And if she's under the age of 90, she can probably beat him in basketball.

Pattinson was on my street a few months ago, filming a scene for an upcoming movie with Emilie de Ravin (from Lost). It's a carnival scene, and he was with de Ravin at the basketball shoot, perhaps trying to win her a stuffed animal. And when the movie opens next year, if any of his shots go in, it'll be thanks to some Oscar-worthy editing.

Because in real life, he wasn't even close.

I know, I know. It's a movie. It's not like he's trying. Well it doesn't matter. It was embarrassing. One of his shots hit the top of the carnival booth. He kept bouncing the ball off his foot. He dropped a three-foot, underhand pass from a production assistant. Three feet!

And he didn't care at all! Nobody did. All anyone could talk about was how hot and dreamy he was.

Hello?? Am I the only one seeing this? He just hit the top of the carnival booth!!!

So, when your girlfriend drops everything to see Twilight this weekend (hopefully on Saturday or Sunday!), or drools over pictures of him in US Weekly, or says she's too mature for that nonsense but then secretly drools over pictures of him in US Weekly, take solace in knowing he's the worst basketball player I've ever seen.

Well, except maybe Jordan Hill.

Thanks Donnie.

Saturday Picks

Big weekends in the Big 10 and Pac-10, but that's about it.

Ohio State (-10.5)
@ Michigan (12:00 ET). This really isn't much of a rivalry these days. Michigan stinks.

UConn (+6.5) @ Notre Dame (2:30 ET). Did anyone know the boys from my home state are 8-1 ATS this year? I didn't either.

Penn State (-3) @ Michigan State (3:30 ET). MSU's had this game circled since they blew the Iowa game. I think they blow this one, too.

Stanford (-7) vs. Cal (7:30 ET). Stanford's surging, and Cal's without their best player, whose last name is Best.

Arizona (+6) vs. Oregon (8:00 ET). HUGE game for both teams, as the winner stays alive for the Rose Bowl. Gimme the home 'dog in a game like that.

Last Week: 2-3 (again)
Record to Date: 20-23-3

Friday, November 13, 2009

Question from an Imaginary Reader

Until I start getting actual questions from readers, I'm just gonna make them up.

Billy (Pittsburgh, PA): Tonight my girlfriend and I had the perfect QTN. We ate delicious Italian, bought low-fat ice cream on the way home, talked with her roommates for a while, and watched The Hills. Now she's asleep. Can I turn on SportsCenter?

FVG: Thanks for the question, Billy. We know what you're going through. It's hard to go to sleep without checking in. Guys need to say goodnight to sports.

But tread lightly, my imaginary friend. Consider the ramifications if she wakes up. How would it make her feel? You spent the whole night proving she's the center of your universe, not sports. Might this blow the whole thing?

Here's a suggestion: Leave the TV off, and check scores on your phone. Then if she wakes up and sees you, you can say you were writing a work email, or sexting with another girl.

OK, maybe that's not a good idea either.

But whatever, it's not like you're real anyway.

Saturday Picks

Duke (+13) vs. Georgia Tech (12:00 ET). Yes, I know this isn't basketball. But I also know Duke's better than usual this year.

Stanford (+10.5) @ USC (3:30 ET). I'm in San Francisco this weekend, and will be watching this game at a Stanford bar. And USC's now 2-7 ATS.

Alabama (-12) @ Mississippi St (7:00 ET). I'll roll with the Tide here for a change. I'm not happy about it, though.

Pittsburgh (-6.5) vs. Notre Dame (8:00 ET). Mark May took Pitt, Lou Holtz took ND. Lou Holtz is dumber than Mark May.

Arizona St. (+18) @ Oregon (10:25 ET/7:25 PT). Freakin' Pacific Time. Football's over by 11...

Last Week: 2-3
Record to Date: 18-20-3

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't Be a Part of Your Girlfriend's Costume

In an earlier post, I talked about how my favorite Bravo show of Lindsey's is The Rachel Zoe Project, which got a very respectable FVG grade of B-. So when Lindsey asked if I wanted to join her and Maria to be the show's three main characters for Halloween, I said, 'Sure. Great idea.'

But it wasn't a great idea. And not because that meant I'd be Brad, the gay intern, but because now I'd have to be NEAR her all night. And being near her most likely meant NOT being near a TV playing USC-Oregon or Texas-Oklahoma St.

If, at any point, I were to leave them to find the games, their costume would fall apart, and they couldn't take funny pictures to put on Facebook. And then I'd get yelled at. (Which, come to think of it, is what her character does to my character on the show anyway. So we'd really just be acting the part.)

Anyway, it didn't turn out as bad as I'd worried it would.

But it could have.

And next Halloween, that's not a risk you, or I, should be willing to take.

Saturday Picks

I'm a 'dog lover....

Virginia (+14)
@ Miami (12:00 ET). I want to believe in The U, but they've struggled lately, with A LOT of injuries on defense.

Ohio State (+5)
@ Penn State (3:30 ET). My roommate Ramsey will be at this game with his girlfriend, another Penn State alum. So I'll root for the Lions to pull out a squeaker, because I think this line is too high.

LSU (+7.5) @ Alabama (3:30 ET). In the game of the week, I think this spread is just about where it should be, which means I shouldn't be betting it. Riiiiight.

Arizona State (+10) vs. USC (8:00 ET). USC's just not a good bet this year. 2-6 ATS.

Idaho (+8) vs. Fresno State (10:30 ET). Go Vandals!

Last Week: 2-3
Record to Date: 16-17-3

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ranking the Sports Months

Below are, from worst to first, my favorite months of the year for sports. (And therefore, from first to worst, the months Lindsey and I have the least fights.)

12) July - Hands down, the worst sports month. All there is to watch is baseball. Well, and the Hot Dog Eating Contest. Linds and I do great in July.

11) August - Football's in sniffing distance, but baseball's still the only game in town. Bump August ahead of June if your team's still in the pennant race. But I root for the Mets, so that's not usually an issue.

10) June - Gets the slight edge over August thanks to the NBA Finals, which have been pretty fun the last few years. And don't forget the Scripps Spelling Bee.

9) April - The home stretch for NBA hoops, and -- for this month, at least -- I'm excited there's a Mets game on every night. Lindsey doesn't share my sentiments.

8) May - An underrated month, thanks to some great playoff basketball. TNT boasts of airing "40 Games in 40 Nights", and boy, do they mean it.

7) February - Starts with the Super Bowl, but then it's off to depression-city. NBA, great college basketball, and the Westminster Dog Show help. But let's face it, this is the month girlfriends start slapping each other five under the dinner table. Football's gone 'til September.

6) January - The big bowl games, and the NFL playoffs. But remember, playoffs means teams are eliminated. And when teams are eliminated, that means less football.

5) October - Football's in full swing, but the novelty of September's worn off a bit, and you realize that during the week, there's not that much to watch. If May is underrated, October's a bit overrated.

4) March - I know what you're thinking: This is high for a non-football month. But it's March Madness. And March Madness is the best event in sports. Looking for a good time to fake sick? FVG recommends the third Thursday and Friday in March. Actually, even if you really get sick, it's still probably worth it.

3) September - The month that makes girlfriends everywhere cringe. FOOTBALL'S BACK!!! The pure joy of it is what makes it so great. Like if someone's been dangling a cupcake in front of your face and then finally lets you take a bite. As Homer Simpson would say, "Mmmmm, Septemberrrr...."

2) December - The NFL plays more games this month than any other, as it adds Saturday to the docket. But that's done to compensate for an inexplicable lack of college football. (I know, I know. There's an explanation: Players are studying for finals.) Sure they are.

1) November - Now you see the point of this post?! We're entering the best sports month of the year! NBA and college hoops kick off, college football has its most exciting month of games, and the NFL adds Thursday to the lineup, which includes the year's greatest holiday. It began in 1609, when a group of Pilgrim men decided their wives had become too overbearing since they arrived in the New World. So they declared the final Thursday in November a day of uninterrupted eating and football.

They called it 'Thanksgiving'.

Saturday Picks

West Virginia (-3)
@ South Florida (Friday 8:00 ET). This line seems low, but don't overthink. USF's looked horrible the last two weeks.

Syracuse (+15.5)
vs. Cincinnati (12:00 ET). I smell an upset here (or at least a close game). Not sure why.

Georgia (+15) vs. Florida (3:30 ET, in Jacksonville). A HUGE spread for the World's Largest Cocktail Party That I Can't Believe I've Never Been To. Florida might be 15 points better this year, but that's too many points for a game like this.

Texas (-9.5) @ Oklahoma St (8:00 ET). I know it's in Stillwater, but Mack Brown's 11-0 in this series, and the 'Pokes are missing key players on offense.

Oregon (+3) vs. USC (8:00 ET). I'm excited to see the scene in Eugene before the game starts -- they've been waiting all year for this. Hopefully I'll still be excited when it ends.

Last Week: 3-1-1
Record to Date: 14-14-3

Friday, October 23, 2009

Better Late Than...On Time?

In 1976, while his girlfriend (and future wife) Pattie was taking forever getting ready for a night out, Eric Clapton didn't get angry. He grabbed a notepad, and started writing.

The result was "Wonderful Tonight".

Now I'm not suggesting any of us should, would, or could do such a thing. But it's something we can learn from. Getting mad at your girlfriend for taking too long is like getting mad at rain for falling: There's nothing you can do, and it won't change anything. So instead of making ourselves crazy, why not be like Clapton, and use the time positively?

(Which, in our case, of course, means watching more football.)

It's a simple two-step program:

STEP 1: Plan ahead. Learn to anticipate when she's gonna be late, and make sure you'll be waiting somewhere with a TV. This means no more meeting up at the restaurant, subway stop, etc. Offer to pick her up at her place, or have her come to yours. "It's OK babe, take your time. (Baltimore and Minnesota are in a ridiculous 4th quarter shootout!)"

STEP 2: Discover your petty side. Now that you've earned points for waiting so patiently, you can spend those points on even more football. Just note to yourself how late she was (say, 25 minutes), and then use those 25 minutes at a later time when YOU want (need!) to stay late to watch the end of a game. If she complains when you show up late (which she won't, because she'll be late too), remind her that she had been 25 minutes late that other time, and men can't always be on time, either. Like I said, it's a petty move. But when Buffalo's driving to pull off the overtime upset against the Jets, it's also a smart one.

With this simple, easy, two-step plan, her being 25 minutes late gets you 50 extra minutes of football.

Now what have we been complaining about all these years?

Saturday Picks

Pittsburgh (-6.5)
vs. South Florida (12:00). Dave Wannstedt, aka Dumbest Coach in America, could easily find a way to blow this, but I think freshman sensation Dion Lewis runs all over the Bulls.

Michigan (+4.5) vs. Penn St (3:30 ET). Penn State was ranked high to start the year, and I think that's the only reason they're favored here. I like Michigan to cover at the Big House.

Tennessee (+14.5) @ Alabama (3:30 ET). I'm rollin' against the Tide again, not just because I hate Nick Saban, but because Tennessee's D keeps it close.

Iowa (-2) @ Michigan St (7:00 ET). A lot of people think this is a trap game, but Iowa's too good to get trapped.

Boise St. (-24.5) @ Hawaii (11:00 ET). Hawaii isn't an easy place to play. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Last Week: 3-2-1
Record to Date: 11-13-2

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lessons from Bill Cosby

My favorite Cosby Show episode is the one where Rudy's the star running back of her pee-wee football team. Toward the end of the episode, Cliff's on the couch watching the Bears-Giants game, when Clair walks in and asks if she can watch, too. Cliff can't believe his ears. She's never wanted to watch football before in her life. He happily invites her to take a seat.

But before he can even get comfortable, daughter Denise joins them on the couch, and all the women can talk about is how cute the players' butts are, and how Walter Payton isn't as good as Rudy because "he keeps getting tackled". Ultimately, it's Cliff who ends up leaving the room.

It's a hilarious scene, but to dismiss it as comedy misses the brilliant insight. Because in real life, I don't think Cliff leaves the room. I think he's ecstatic, and doesn't care what the women next to him are saying. Because he's just stumbled upon the ultimate Football vs. Girlfriend scenario: Putting in quality time WHILE watching football, and having her be perfectly happy about it.

So, using this as a jumping-off point, let's explore some ways we can convince our girlfriends to want to watch football:

1) Find a heartthrob.
Devin's girlfriend Michelle has a weird obsession with Tom Brady. Chad's fiance Morgan thinks Mark Sanchez is 'hot stuff'. Do Chad or Devin care? Of course not! Their girlfriends are talking about football. See if you can get her to 'fall for' a player. Don't worry, they won't run away together. (But if they do, I apologize.)

2) Make a connection to US Weekly.
ME: "Hey babe, I'm just gonna turn on the Dallas game for a sec." HER: "But babe, I really don't-" ME: "Look! It's Tony Romo. Doesn't he go out with-" HER: "Jessica Simpson? No, that ended months ago." ME: "Really?" HER: "Yep. She still wants him back though. It's kinda sad. She wrote this thing on Twitter that said (etc, etc)..."
See how easy that was?

3) Get your kid to start playing football.
Far and away, the best solution. When I started playing in 5th grade, my mom became a new woman. Now she'll watch any game, anytime, whether her sons are playing or not.
What if your kid's a girl? Well, Rudy Huxtable did it.

4) And if all else fails...
There's good old-fashioned bribery. Put a hundred dollars on Michigan, and tell her that if they win, you'll buy her a pair of shoes, and if they don't, you won't. Desperate? Absolutely.

But you'll never see a woman learn "Hail to the Victors" faster.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Football IS Girlfriend?

Tonight, the feisty San Diego Seduction host the top rated Dallas Desire. They're calling it "David vs. Goliath". Dallas is a 7-point road favorite.

Never heard of either of them? Well they're not two bottom-feeding teams from the WAC. They're two of the 10 charter members of the Lingerie Football League.

Yes, the LFL is what you think it is, and no, it's not a gimmick. Check out the video: It's not patty-cake. There's some HITTIN goin on!

First of all, let me be clear -- I think this is a fantastic, innovative idea. And as a copywriter, I even love the tag: 'True Fantasy Football'. And I'm telling you, these girls are GOOD. The LFL founders didn't half-ass this one. They thought of everything, from overtime rules to play clocks to playoff formats. They've even got TV deals with local broadcasters.

From a Football vs. Girlfriend perspective, however, I just don't see it working. Because if your girlfriend already isn't crazy about football, you can go ahead and double down that she's not gonna like this. Girlfriends resent football for dominating our time, money, and thoughts. But at least the culprits are large, scary men. Now it's sexy women?

Also, the LFL has (smartly) scheduled their games for Friday nights, so as to never compete against college or pro. But, as we've been over, boyfriends are on a weekly schedule, and they only get so many nights a week allotted for football. How are you going to explain to her that you need to add another night...for this?

So, I guess the LFL fails the FVG test. It never really had a chance. But there's a lot of single guys out there.

And if you're one of them, what's not to love?

Saturday Picks

Dallas Desire (-7)
@ San Diego (Friday Night, 9PM PT). Home 'dogs usually play well on Friday nights. But these are women in shoulder pads and garter belts, so I think you have to throw trends out the window. I'm going with Goliath.

Oklahoma (+3) vs. Texas (12:00 ET). As Robby mentioned last week, sometimes I bet with my heart. But this line is lower than most people thought it would be (given OU's tough start), and I'm hoping that, as Lee Corso would say, "Somebody knows something".

USC (-10) @ Notre Dame (3:30 ET). I think the "Bush Push" game four years ago where ND almost pulled the upset is the only thing keeping this line respectable. USC won every other game in the last 7 years by more than 30.

Virginia Tech (-3) @ Georgia Tech (6:00 ET). In the battle of the Techs, I like the Hokies. I know it's on the road, but the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five games between these two.

South Carolina (+17) @ Alabama (7:45 ET). I've bet against Alabama three times this year, and lost all three times. Guess I haven't learned my lesson.

Arizona St. (-6.5) vs. Washington (10:15 ET). I needed a late game, and this is as late as it gets. The favorite's covered the last five spreads in this series.

Last Week: 3-2
Record to Date: 8-11-1

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Win Some, You Lose Some. Except When You Don't Win Any.

Wow. 0-5 last weekend. I never claimed to be good at betting, but 0-5 is impressive.

Nevertheless, I'm all smiles today, because tomorrow Football vs. Girlfriend hits the road for beautiful Oxford, Mississippi, for the Alabama-Ole Miss game. I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED FOR THIS TRIP. Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to:

1) Two New States. Tennessee (we fly in and out of Memphis), and Mississippi. I love new states. You get to see what the people are like, and what fast food chains they have.

2) Southern Accents. I've always envied a hard-core Southern accent. I try and sneak a y'all in every now and then, but it never works.

3) Buying Ole Miss Stuff. I'm obviously not an Ole Miss fan, but as soon as I get to Oxford, I'm gonna buy myself a T-shirt, wear it the whole time, yell until I lose my voice, and nobody's ever gonna know. Plus, like my dad, I'm a sucker for anything with a college logo on it.

4) Checking in with Lindsey. OK, so maybe I just included this one to stay on blog-topic, but checking in during trips like these has really been painless, and even enjoyable. She just cares that I stay safe, and put product in my hair when I go out.

5) Sunday in Memphis. Apparently there's a bunch of cool stuff to see in Memphis. So we're gonna find a sports bar, sit inside, and watch football all day.

6) Walking into the stadium right before the game, and taking it in. I will NEVER forget walking into the Cotton Bowl minutes before last year's OU-Texas game, wearing my roommate's fake binoculars filled with rum, and seeing 95,000 fans perfectly split down the middle -- half crimson, half orange -- and getting the feeling that every single one of them had never been more excited for anything in their life.

Doesn't get any better than that.

Bounce-back Saturday Picks:

Hello FVG Fans, this is Matt's brother Robby (I apologize for not being the good-luck charm Matt referred to me as in his first set of picks). Anyway, since Matt doesn't have internet access in Mississippi, he hired me to post his "much awaited picks to be posted Friday once I get to Oxford". Honestly, though, after going 0-5 last week, the only way to get value from this post is probably to pick against whatever Matt picks.

Louisiana Tech (+10.5) @ Nevada. (Friday Night) I'm not gonna pretend that I've seen either of these teams play this year, and I'm not too discouraged about it. Frankly, I don't even know why Matt picked this one.

Arkansas (+3) vs. Auburn. (12:00). I love SEC teams at home, and the Hogs looked great against Texas A&M last week.

Ole Miss (+5.5) vs. Alabama. (3:30) Has Alabama been the most impressive team in the nation so far this year? I think so. Does Matt often pick games solely because he's rooting for that team? Yes. But I actually agree with him on this one. Again, SEC team at home.

Oklahoma (-25) vs. Baylor. (3:30) Robert Griffin's done for the year, and I think the OU defense will take out their anger against Griffin's backup. You might be reluctant after OU's ugly showing last week, but with Bradford likely back, the Sooners might be running up the score.

Florida (-7) @ LSU. (8:00) DO NOT PICK THE GATORS IN THIS GAME. Even if Florida goes to Death Valley at night and wins (which they won't), there is no way it's by more than 7. Plus, Tebow is very questionable. FLORIDA HAS NO CHANCE OF WINNING BY 8 OR MORE. Remember, Matt did go 0-5 last week.

Although you're probably reluctant to use Matt's picks (and for good reason), I am in first out of 10 in my pick'em league, and I agree with the Arkansas, Ole Miss, and OU picks. Don't bet on the Louisiana Tech game..are you really gonna want to watch it? And BET ON LSU. They are a lock.

Have a happy College Football Saturday.

Last Week: 0-5 (it hurts even to type it)
Record to Date: 5-9-1

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Clothes Make the Schedule

(Lindsey's alma mater, The University of Oklahoma, has a BIG game tomorrow night against Miami, which I'd assumed we'd watch at Overlook, the OU alumni bar. Then Lindsey dropped this bombshell on me...)

LINDS: So...(Bracing for a freakout) I don't think I'm gonna watch the whole game tomorrow night.

ME: (Freaking out) What??? Why?

LINDS: I need to get ready for Lauren's party.

ME: What? But it's a huge game!

LINDS: Yeah, but there's no time to get ready between the game and the party.

ME: So? Why can't you get ready before the game?

LINDS: I'm not wearing my going-out outfit to the bar.

ME: Why?

LINDS: I'm not gonna watch the whole game, OK?

ME: But it's a huge game!

LINDS: (Gives the "this discussion is over" stare)

ME: Well can I watch the whole game?


ME: Phew.

Saturday Picks

Kentucky (+16)
vs. Alabama (12:20 ET). Alabama looks great so far, but I don't think Kentucky gets blown out of the water at home two weeks in a row.

Georgia (-3)
vs. LSU (3:30 ET). Both these teams are 1-3 ATS. I'm hoping LSU's the more overrated of the two.

Cal (+6)
vs. USC (8:00 ET). I thought Cal would be favored in this game. Seems like an overreaction to Cal's blowout loss. USC hasn't looked dominant at all so far.

Oklahoma (-7)
@ Miami (8:00 ET). Time to see how Landry and his "molestache" do against big-time competition. My (biased) opinion is that he does pretty well.

Washington St. (+35) @ Oregon (9:15 ET). I've seen both these teams play, and they're not 35 points apart.

Last Week: 2-3
Year to Date: 5-4-1

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Football, Girlfriends, and a Rabbi

There's been times I've genuinely wondered if there's something wrong with me. How could it be that I'd choose watching sports over...pretty much anything? It shouldn't be that way, right?

Well, in my once-a-year trip to Temple this morning, my rabbi (pictured) made me feel a little more at ease. In a sermon that was about something completely different but this is the only part I remember, he told us that men NEED sports, because it's literally the only thing in our society that lets a man freely experience his entire spectrum of emotions. And men -- just like women -- need to feel emotional.

Women don't need sports to get emotional, you don't need me to tell you that. But only while watching sports can a man go from having the worst night of his life to the best night of his the course of five minutes. Nothing else even compares.

So next time you're cooking spaghetti with your girlfriend, but in the back of your mind you can't stop thinking about DeAngelo Williams, try and remember that there's nothing wrong with you. You're simply looking to satisfy your primal male need to be emotional.

At least that's what my rabbi says.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Alexis & Bill

A little over a year ago, I was at my desk blabbing on and on about how excited I was for the game tomorrow night, when my co-worker Alexis walked in from the office next door.

"What game is tomorrow night?" she asked.
"USC - Ohio State."
"And it's a really big game?"
"Biggest of the year so far, why?"
"Bill and I were supposed to go out to dinner tomorrow night, but then out of nowhere he called and said he wanted to cook for me instead." She smirked. "Now I know why."

Then, instead of telling Bill she was onto his plan, she played along. She said she appreciated his suggestion, but that she really wanted to go out to eat -- purely to mess with his head -- until he finally came clean about the game.

Tomorrow, Alexis and Bill are getting married. And with them both being Penn State alums, they planned an evening wedding around a Penn State-Iowa game that was supposed to be at 3:30. Well, it got moved to 8:00, and Alexis has pledged to cut the hotel cable wires if anyone (especially Bill) is caught sneaking off. She's already got the scissors.

So, wherever you are this weekend, raise a glass to Alexis and Bill. If there's a better Football vs. Girlfriend couple out there, I'd sure like to meet 'em.

Saturday picks:

Mississippi St. (+12.5)
vs. LSU (12:00 ET). I'm nervous about this one, but I think MSU hangs around at home.

Cincinnati (-16.5) vs. Fresno St. (12:00 ET). Not as nervous about this one. I love betting against West Coast teams playing early East Coast games. And Fresno's defense is awful.

Miami (-3) @ Virginia Tech (3:30 ET). "The U" has a couple injuries, but they look like they're on a mission this year. And Tech continues to look overrated.

Iowa (+10) @ Penn St. (8:00 ET). Sorry Alexis and Bill, but while Penn State might be 3-0, they're 0-3 against the spread.

Texas Tech (0) @ Houston (9:00 ET). This one should be a shootout, but I see Texas Tech as the last one standing. They held their own against Texas last week. I guess Robby wasn't the good luck charm I thought he was...

Last Week: 3-1-1
FVG Record to Date: 3-1-1

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bravo, Bravo. You Could Be a Lot Worse.

We've already established that my favorite thing to watch is football. We've also established there are nights of the week where there isn't any football, and that on these nights I watch whatever my girlfriend wants to watch.

Well, inevitably, what my girlfriend wants to watch, is Bravo. And, since it's not like I have a choice, I'm very, very pleased to make the following generalization: It's really not that terrible.

So without further ado, here is the Football vs. Girlfriend Bravo Show Report Card....

(Note: Grades are relative to football getting an 'A', so don't expect the honor roll.)

Flipping Out. A relatively new show. Or at least not one Lindsey watched until this year. It's about this gay guy Jeff who -- you guessed it -- flips houses. Jeff's funny, and I love the housekeeper, Zoila. But the action's a bit boring for my taste. FVG Grade: C-

Millionaire Matchmaker. Or as Lindsey calls it, "Patti" (after over-the-top host Patti Stanger, pictured). This show is what it says it is: A woman helping rich-but-inept guys find love. And it's pretty funny. I even looked forward to watching it once. But then the Bulls-Celtics playoff game went to three overtimes. FVG Grade: C+

The Rachel Zoe Project. I really like this show, and I'm still not sure why. The premise couldn't be dumber: Rachel helps celebrities pick outfits, with help from her assistant (Taylor), who's relentlessly mean to Brad, the gay intern. That's it. I was so positive I'd hate this show, but in the end, I just didn't. It's hysterical. I've watched three in a row before. FVG Grade: B-

Top Chef. I know guys and girls alike love these cooking shows, but I just don't see it. If I'm gonna stare at delicious food for an hour, I better get to eat it. FVG Grade: D

Real Housewives of (Whatever). This one really is that terrible. FVG Grade: F

Friday, September 18, 2009

Val - Lindsey's Best Friend, and My Hero

Lindsey's best friend Val moved to the city last week, days before the start of the NFL season. They hadn't lived in the same city since college. This was Santonio Holmes' Super-Bowl-winning catch in the corner of the end zone. This was clutch.

It's not a stretch to say I was more excited about this than Lindsey was. Because when football season comes along, your girlfriend's best friend is your best friend.

Think about it, what do you really think she'd rather do on a Saturday: Go shopping with you while you sulk and check the Pitt score, or go shopping with Val and get a genuine, honest opinion on the shoes she wants?

It's very beneficial to remember this: When she knows you'd rather be watching football, she doesn't wanna hang out with you, either. Sometimes, you're just her best option.

So, if your GF has a long-distance BFF, see if you can get her to move. Pay her airfare if you have to. Maybe even her first month's rent.

I'm telling you, it's worth it.

Saturday picks:

Boise State (-7.5) at Fresno St (Friday 9:00 ET). Boise's 10-3 ATS in their last 13 Friday night games, Fresno is 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Friday night games. This is a Friday night game.

Minnesota (+14)
vs. California (12:00 ET). I don't think Cal wakes up in time for this game. They may come back and win, but not by two touchdowns.

Tennessee (+30) at Florida (3:30 ET). I said early in the week that if this line was anything under 28 I was taking Florida. It's 30. I'm covering my eyes and taking the Vols.

Nebraska (+5) at Virginia Tech (3:30 ET). The Huskers look like they're back. And the ACC hasn't shown much in non-conference games so far.

Texas (-17.5) vs. Texas Tech (8:00 ET). My little brother, Robby, will be in attendance on his college visit to Austin. And so far, on his college visits, the home team is 2-0 ATS. Priceless info, people.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Weekly Football Schedule (For Girlfriends)

After 11 consecutive hours of football on Sunday, Chad sweetly reminded his fiancé Morgan that he'd need his Monday night to watch football, too. Exasperated, Morgan asked, "Is football every day of the week?"

My first thought was, 'Come on Morgan, this isn't your first rodeo'. It's the couple's fourth football season together -- she should know the deal by now, right? But then it hit me: Maybe, just maybe, it doesn't always occur to girlfriends to plan their lives around football.

So Morgan (and all other girlfriends out there), the following schedule is for you. And to answer your question: No, football isn't every day of the week.

But it's close.

MONDAY: Monday Night Football. Basically a must-watch. Pretty much any NFL game is a must-watch.

TUESDAY: Usually nothing, sometimes mid-major college football for the true degenerates. GREAT Quality Time Night (QTN).

WEDNESDAY: Same as Tuesday. Great QTN opportunity. Smart boyfriends make the most of Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

THURSDAY: A tricky one. Differs by the week. Starting in November, there's an NFL game every Thursday, and college football often has a good matchup, too. Check with him first.

FRIDAY: Usually just average college football. A savvy boyfriend plans a Friday date night, scoring valuable points for when he starts avoiding you the rest of the weekend.

SATURDAY: College football extravaganza. Great games all day and night. If something has to be Saturday, make it early: Games usually get better (and more 'must-see') as the day progresses.

SUNDAY: 'And on the Seventh Day, He Watched Football.' You should already know this by now. But if this is your first season together, I ask of you one thing: Let him have Sunday.

I promise, you'll both be happier.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Money in the Banc

Chad, Devin, and I were in a pickle. We wanted to have dinner with our girlfriends, but also wanted (needed) to watch the USC-Ohio St. game. The girls wanted wine, and anything other than bar food. The solution? Banc, on 30th St and 3rd Ave. Banc seemed a little confused as to what it wanted to be -- There were girls dressed to impress picking at goat cheese salads at a table next to girls in Terrelle Pryor jerseys devouring greaseburgers. But the food was good, and they were surprisingly accommodating to our degenerate football-watching needs. In retrospect, maybe Banc knew EXACTLY what they wanted to be: The perfect solution to the Football vs. Girlfriend Saturday night dilemma.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Intro - Maria's Birthday

Three weeks ago, I got the Evite for my girlfriend's roommate's birthday party. Rather than do the standard Saturday night meet at a bar, she organized a Sunday afternoon kids' birthday party with a Hannah Montana piñata. And beer. Sounds like a plan.

Then I check the date again. It's Sunday, September 13th, also known as The First Sunday of Football.


I'm not only gonna have to tell my girlfriend I can't go to Maria's, but that it isn't even up for debate. She's gonna tell me I'm stupid. I'm gonna say 'any guy would understand'. She's gonna say 'I don't care if any guy would understand -- I'm not dating them', 'your hair looks terrible', 'you need a haircut', and so on...

This promises to be the first of many, many, many, many, many battles between my love for my girlfriend and my love for football that I expect to have in the coming months. And I'm hoping that writing about it will somehow make things better. But I doubt it. So at the very least, I hope those of you reading this will find comfort knowing you're not the only one.

Good luck with your teams, fantasy teams, and relationships this season.