My 13 New Year's resolutions for the NFL

On the heels of my own list of New Year's resolutions comes my proposed resolutions for the National Football League.

There are many serious issues that the NFL needs to address. This list does not touch upon the more complex and serious issues facing the NFL but seeks only to increase a fan's enjoyment of the game.

Most of these proposals are relatively simple to adopt and should be implemented immediately.   

  1. Digitize NFL tickets. The fact that NFL ticket holders must possess a physical ticket on game day in order to gain access to the stadium is ridiculous. 
  2. Play at least one NFL game on Christmas Day regardless of the day of the week. 
  3. Play at least one NFL game on New Year's Day regardless of the day of the week.
  4. Broadcast two 1:00 games and two 4:00 games every Sunday without exception. Why this isn't happening already is beyond me. 
  5. Increase the height of the goal post by at least 20 feet. Someday soon, an important playoff game will be decided by a questionable field goal that is kicked higher than the current goal posts and will be misjudged by the referees. Field goal kicks above the posts are also not reviewable. 
  6. Expand NFL rosters by at least 10 players. Injuries play too important a role in the fates of NFL teams. Mitigate this impact as much as possible with expanded rosters.  
  7. Build a tunnel under Route 1 or a foot bridge over Route 1 adjacent to Gillette Stadium in at least three locations so pedestrians from the parking lots can cross the road without having to stop traffic. (Apologies. I know this is very New England Patriots specific).
  8. Allow NFL fans to vote out one NFL commentator per year if he or she receives at least 25% of the vote.
  9. Cease all mention of the preempting of 60 Minutes during the 4:00 CBS telecast. NO ONE IS EVER WONDERING WHY 60 MINUTES HASN'T STARTED.
  10. Cease all commercial breaks immediately following a kickoff.  
  11. Cease all indoor football games. Football is meant to be played outdoors. If they can play football outdoors in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it can play it anywhere. 
  12. Modify the pass interference penalty. Pass interference penalties shall no longer be spot fouls. The subjective nature of this penalty too often flips the field and completely changes the game based upon the opinion of a referee. Pass interference should be penalized as half the distance of the intended pass with a minimum of 10 yards and an automatic first down.
  13. Offer Super Bowl tickets to the fans of the Super Bowl teams first.

The best moment that I have ever spent at a football game. Maybe one of the best moments of my life. And it happened during a timeout.

My love of the New England Patriots doesn’t make a lot of sense.

A collection of men who I have never met take the field to play a game that I have never played professionally, and even though I have no tangible connection to a single person associated with the Patriots organization, my heart hangs on every play.  

And it doesn’t matter who is playing in the game. Last night, in Gillette Stadium, I cheered on running back LaGarrette Blount, who just weeks ago was playing for the Pittsburg Steelers before being released for disciplinary reasons. 

Had he returned to Foxboro in the brown and gold of the Steelers, I would’ve prayed for abject failure. Fumbles and missteps and bone crushing tackles to the ground.

But last night he wore the red, white, and blue of my team, so I cheered him on as he ran over the Indianapolis Colts and helped to bring the Patriots – my team – to another Super Bowl.


As fan, we root for laundry. We are loyal to the uniform. Villains become heroes and heroes are made villains depending on the colors that they wear.

It’s almost religious. It makes no sense.

And yet I was standing in section 331, row 24, seat 5 last night, as the rain came down in sheets, euphoric as my team dismantled the Indianapolis Colts and punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.

Last week I watched the Patriots defeat the Baltimore Ravens in one of the best playoff games I have ever seen. In the end, the Patriots defeated the Ravens 38-34, but not before having to make up two 14 point deficits and pulling of some of the best and most unusual plays that I have ever seen. It was a frigid, dry night in Foxboro last week, but we forgot about the arctic temperatures. Ignored cold hands and frozen feet. There was too much  drama unfolding before us.

Yesterday was a different kind of game. Temperatures were near 50 for most of the night. Torrential downpours soaked is. The game was essentially over by midway through the third quarter. We were able to relax. Laugh. Celebrate. In my 10+ years as a season ticket holder, I have rarely laughed more than last night.

My favorite moment of the night, and perhaps one of my favorite moments ever spent in Gillette Stadium, was as the Patriots were driving to make the score 38-7. The rain was falling harder than it had all night. The wind was carrying it across the field in sheets. A timeout was called. The telecast went to commercial. Music began playing in the stadium:

Creedence Clearwater Revival's Have You Ever Seen the Rain.

In a downpour, almost 70,000 people rose and began to sing together. Our team was on the precipice of another Super Bowl, and we were fortunate enough to be there to watch it happen. In the driving rainstorm. On a dark and windy night. 

When the timeout ended and play resumed, the stadium stopped playing the music. Tom Brady stood under center, waiting for the ball to be snapped. Two teams were poised to resume battle. But the fans continued to sing.

image image

I have never felt such a collective feeling of joy as I did in that moment. Men and women of all ages, from all walks of life, sang a song that almost seemed to have been written for this moment. It was as if we had spent our lives listening to this song and learning the words by heart so that we could come together on this one night, in this singular moment, to sing in unison.

Your future self wants you to be daring and adventurous. Don’t let the current version of yourself screw things up because it’s cold.

I went to the Patriots-Ravens playoff game on Saturday. Though I love attending Patriots games at Gillette Stadium, it’s not always easy.

I left my house at 10:45 AM and returned home around 10:45 PM. It’s a long day. 

Prior to leaving the house, while I was dressed in my long underwear, my cat vomited on me. This might have happened regardless of my plans for the day, but it happened. It was a thing.

In a sad twist of fate, my friend received word that his cat was dying while we were on the way to the game. On Sunday, his cat was put to sleep.

It was about 15 degrees during our tailgate. We cooked steaks, beans, and loaded potato skins on a propane-powered grill. Less than 10 minutes after food came off the grill, it was cold.

The walk from the parking lot to our seats takes about 30-45 minutes depending upon the size of the crowd at the gates. It’s a battle through hordes of fans, and for a large portion of the walk, it’s uphill. Up about seven ramps to the upper deck and about 75 steps to our seats. By the time we finally sit down, we are stripping off our coats and hats because we are so warm.

The temperature dropped at game time. Factoring in the wind chill, it was about 5 degrees by the second quarter. Beers were freezing. I looked more like the Michelin Man than myself with the layers of clothing affixed to my body.


As soon as the game ended, we ran for the car. Beat the traffic out of the parking lot. Stopped at McDonald's to strip down to civilian clothing, I discovered that my face was seriously wind burned. Then we began the 75 minute drive to my friend’s house and the 45 minute drive on my own to my house.

It’s a sacrifice, particularly when the game can be watched in the comfort of my home.

But I sitting in the stands for the 2015 Patriots-Ravens playoff game, and I will never forget it. I saw and heard things that I have never seen before in a footfall game.

I saw Tom Brady throw a pass to wide receiver Julian Edleman, who threw a pass to Danny Amendola for a touchdown. Strangers embraced me as Amendola crossed into the end zone. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the stadium so loud. 


I heard referees announce that Patriots running backs and tight ends were “ineligible receivers.” “Do not cover number 34” a referee announced. It may have been the strangest in-stadium announcement in the history of the NFL.

I saw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on the Baltimore bench. Though I’m sure this has happened in NFL games before, I had never seen it. 

I watched a team come back from two 14 point deficits to win the game, the first time it’s ever happened in the playoffs.

I watched Tom Brady set the NFL record for passing yards and touchdowns in the playoffs.

I watched Bill Belichick tie Don Shula for the most wins by a coach in the playoffs. Next week, I hope to see him break that record.

Sure, I could’ve watched the game from my couch and been warm. Yes, I could’ve eaten a meal that did not go cold in minutes. It’s true, the hours spent traveling by car and foot to and from the game could’ve been better spent (though spending that time with one of my best friends wasn’t exactly a poor use of my day).

But I’m warm now. My belly is full. My face has returned to it’s normal color. And I have memories of time spent with a friend, watching history be made, that I will carry with me forever.

For about half a second, I had two extra tickets for Saturday’s game. My friend, who owns the tickets but was suffering from the flu, sold them quickly. But I had time to fire off some emails and text messages to friends to see if anyone wanted to join us.

Some already had plans. Some were out of state. One was anchoring SportsCenter in Dallas. But a few declined because of the cold. The travel. The effort required. The allure of the stupid box and the couch.

I feel bad for those who stay home for reasons like the cold.

You can always be warm tomorrow. You can take a nap and enjoy a warm meal the next day.  But you can’t make memories like the ones I did on Monday. Sometimes sacrifice is required to witness greatness.

Maybe it’s crazy, but the 99 year-old version of myself wanted me at that game. My future self wanted me sitting in section 323, row 24, seat 5, alongside my friend, cheering on my team as the temperatures approached zero.

I try to listen to my future self whenever possible. You should, too.

Future you is always smarter than current you.

New word: Truché

New word: truché
Pronounced troo·ché


I can’t recall if I or my friend, Shep, first coined this word, but we use it with each other often, so I’ll give us both credit.

The definition:

1. used as an acknowledgment during a discussion of a good or clever factual correction made at one's expense by another person. A portmanteau combining the words true and touché 


Me: That might be the longest completion that Tom Brady has thrown all season.
Shep: Actually, he threw that 60 yard bomb in the fourth quarter last week. Remember how you hugged that big, hairy stranger after he scored?
Me: Truché  
Shep: This might be the most beer I’ve drunk at a football game all season.
Me: You only think that because you drank so much beer last week that you lost count.
Shep: Truché.

If you haven’t noticed, the word was invented and is frequently used in the stands at Gillette Stadium.


I began the day as a depressed and angry idiot. I ended the day with laughter and rainbows and sunshine. Literally. The lesson: Don’t give up hope.

Bad start to the day.

Arrived at my friend’s house, 40 minutes from my home, having forgotten without my ticket to the Patriots’ game. It requires an incredible amount of stupidity to do such a thing, and I felt like an idiot.

This meant that I would need to drive back home, pick up my ticket, and then drive to the game on my own, battling the traffic that would be building my the time I arrived in Foxboro.

It meant that I would not be driving with my friend, which is frankly one of the best parts of game day. The two hours that we spend in the car together is one of the best parts of my week.

It also meant that I would be paying $40 for parking instead of $10, because I would no longer be sharing the expense with my friend and the two others who we planned to pick up near the stadium.

It also meant that I wouldn’t be parking alongside my friends for our tailgate and would likely be hiking back and forth to their parking spot.

It also meant that I would be parking near the rear of the parking lot, slowing my departure by as much as an hour.

I didn’t think it possible that I could feel any worse. 

Then on the way back home, a police officer pulled me over for speeding.

I had reached the lowest moment of my day.

The police officer asked if I knew how fast I was driving. I did not. I explained that I was angry and hadn’t been paying attention.

He asked why.

I explained that my son had been in the emergency room late last night with a head wound. I showed him a photo on my phone.


I told him that my dog was making my wife crazy at home by barking and scratching, and that she was texting me continuously about it. I showed him the series of angry text messages. 

I told him that I had forgotten my ticket to the Patriots game and had cost myself a drive to Foxboro with my friend and at least two hours of additional driving on my own. 

The officer felt my pain. We talked for ten minutes. He let me go.

From that point on, my day turned around completely.

I arrived home and was able to kiss my daughter, who was asleep when I had left. I told her that I had come home just for her.

She’s five years-old, so she bought it. 

My drive to Foxboro only took 90 minutes. Record time. Surprisingly, there was absolutely no traffic at all. 

On the way to the stadium, alone in my car, I came up with two new ideas for novels. I also prepared and rehearsed a story for an upcoming Moth event and listened to three podcasts. Not as good as driving with my friend, but not bad.

Miraculously, I arrived at the stadium just 15 minutes behind my friends. As I pulled into the lot, the people parked beside my friends decided to move their car, which no one ever does. One of my friends ran up to the parking lot attendant and asked if I could have the spot, and shockingly, he said yes.

The odds that the people parked beside my friends would move their car just as I pulled into the lot are astronomical.

The meal, which consisted of donuts, sausage and peppers, burgers, and dogs, was free (and my friend had planned on it being free all along), saving me the normal $20 food fee and offsetting most of my additional parking fee.


Even though the Patriots were playing a 1:00 game, we had a game to watch on our television while tailgating because Detroit and Atlanta were playing in London. Atlanta was winning 21-0 at halftime, but I told my friends that Detroit would make a game of it in the second half. They scoffed.

Detroit won 22-21.

The weather, which was overcast and cold while we were tailgating, turned sunny and warm as we entered the stadium.


The Patriots routed the Bears. 51-23, and it wasn’t even that close. We laughed and cheered and had a great time. 

Our parking spot in the lot turned out so good that we were on the road by 4:05, and I walked into the house before 6:3o. Record time.

I saw a rainbow on the way home.

I was incredibly sad and angry when I discovered that I had left my ticket at home. The flashing red and blue lights of the police cruiser brought me to the depths of despair.

Then my day turned around completely. The universe smiled on me for a day. For me, this is unusual to say the least.

But it’s a good lesson. Sometimes things can turn around on their own through no effort on your own. Despair can transform into joy when you least expect it.

So don’t give up hope.

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Even if you are incapable of making a difference in your own life, the universe can smile upon you at any moment.

Wait for that moment.