I have a little habit not too many people know about. It’s not an addiction – I can most certainly control it. I’m not talking about hunting clothes nor those worn by monks or nuns. To cop one of the Wikipedia definitions, I refer to an act done repeatedly, sometimes for leisure. It’s not one of those odd little things we all do, but are completely unaware of – you know, like biting your finger nails, or tapping the table when making a point to a business colleague.
The urges come and go, but mostly the habit will usually rear its head during the NFL playoffs. It has taken several forms over the years, but it remains essentially the same habit.
It is the playing of the upcoming New England Patriots game on whatever video game console I happen to possess at the time. It began in 1993 with my Sega Genesis console. Drew Bledsoe was my leading rusher on a completely pathetic team…of course, it was a pathetic team given where they had been in 1992. Any team where Drew Bledsoe would be your leading rusher – virtual or otherwise – would be a terrible team. It has only really been within the last 6 years or so that it has continued into January, but since it has crept into January and February I have welcomed that expansion.
Curiously, I do this despite the fact it rarely, if ever, produces either a coherent game plan that may actually take place OR a final score that resembles the true final outcome.
For many years now, it’s been my Nintendo GameCube, Madden 2003, and me. That Madden game was the first game I had ever played where the Patriots were actually, you know, good. In the years since, I’ve played many a game against the Jets, Dolphins and Bills. It can be a bit eerie at times, what with all those names from several years ago frozen in time: Cam Cleeland with a catch over the middle, or Antowain Smith running it up the gut.
I’ve since moved on to the Madden games for the Xbox 360. What a journey I have undergone from those 1993 Patriots on Sega to the 2005 Patriots on Xbox. Yeah, there might be just a few differences created in the last 15 years or so.
For what it’s worth, I appreciate the fact that this game I play has little to no predicting ability – while the Patriots destroyed the Jaguars 48-17 last night in a downpour, Tom Brady left the game in the first quarter with a torn pectoral and the game was finished off by Doug Flutie – the man who had 10 attempts all season, but who finished his career off with an extra-point drop kick.
In the human services field, an addiction is typically defined in a manner not dissimilar to “a recurring compulsion to engage in an activity, despite harmful consequences to the individual’s health, mental state or social life.” My social life is apparently irreparably harmed by things other than this and I actually find this activity serves my mental state far better than any psychopharmacology could. So, a habit it is. And now that I find myself obligated to play in January, I hope I never have to go back to packing my games away come the end of December.