A survival guide for NFL season

As Labor Day passes and the summer season comes to an end, it’s time to take in a breath of fresh air, enjoy some satisfying moments outside and prepare to hole up indoors for the next several months to enjoy the National Football League in all its splendor on the television. And, inevitably, someone in the living room will say something about the game that makes absolutely no sense.

Darin J. McCannDarin J. McCann

And everybody will notice.

So, being the selfless soul that I am, and wishing to improve the quality of life for all individuals in our community, I offer up a few suggestions for how to participate in the conversation about a game without looking like you’re completely out of your element. Trust me on these — they might sound generic, but they’ll do in a pinch.

• When watching the New England Patriots, bide your time until the Patriots complete a long pass downfield. As everyone either curses or cheers the latest development on the field, just shake your head, wait for the commotion to calm down and say, “Man, love him or hate him, you have to appreciate Brady’s field vision.”

See, a quarterback has a lot going on when he drops back to pass. Massive men with ill intentions are doing everything in their power to cause him bodily harm, multiple receivers are running different patterns and defenses switch up coverages — either going man-to-man, zone or a complicated mixture of the two. Just the fact that the quarterback found someone to throw it to is a feat upon itself, and the fact that you complimented his field vision will get you some knowledge points.

• When watching the Indianapolis Colts, it’s best to do the same thing and wait for them to complete a long pass. Then, as in the earlier example, wait for the noise to quiet down and offer, “Did you see Manning anticipate that play? Nobody prepares like him.”

The fact is that nearly every starting quarterback in the NFL prepares as hard as Manning, but he seems to have a better grasp of what he’s seeing in film study. But everyone always compliments his preparation, so you’re good here to join the lovefest.

• The quarterback sack is interesting. It’s always entertaining to see a guy get taken down, but there’s also a great deal of confusion as to what happened. I’m going to offer a few tidbits you can throw out when you see the golden boys get taken down.

If a quarterback drops back and gets sacked almost immediately, you can easily say, “They have to get him some time back there. Pick up a blitz!”

If a quarterback drops back, looks around and gets taken down, you’ll impress your friends by saying, “The receivers have got to get some separation out there. He can’t be holding on to the ball that long.”

If a quarterback drops back, looks around, pats the ball a few times and orders a pizza before being sacked, simply stand up quickly and say, “Get rid of the ball! Throw it out of bounds!” Then throw up your arms in exasperation and shake your head.

They’ll really think you have your stuff together out there.

• If you’re a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, well, stop.

Hey, I’m a Ravens fan. What did you expect?

• When you see a running back continually run for big gains, and everyone is talking about how much the guy is dominating, just add to the conversation with, “I haven’t seen him play a lot, but he finds a hole and just explodes into it.”

Trust me, it’s a good thing to do this.

• When a punter or kicker messes up, and everyone is getting on him, hey, join the party with, “He’s got one freakin’ thing to worry about all week, and we get this garbage?”

Right or wrong, everyone jumps on kickers, and it’s always safe to take shots at them. Now, there is a wrinkle involved here. Someone might fire back with, “That was a terrible snap. He never had a chance.” Don’t worry. I have you covered.

If it was the punter, and it was blocked, just offer, “He could have at least thrown that thing away. He had to see those guys were practically in his jersey when he set up to kick.”

If it was the kicker, simply say, “I don’t care if it’s rolling around on the ground. For the money he’s making, he should be able to kick a greased watermelon through the uprights.”

You might not be correct with your answer. But nobody will pick on you for saying it.

• If you’re in charge of getting the pizza, get meat. Spinach has a place, and NFL pizza is not it.