In one of legendary sports photographer Neil Leifer’s books, Guts and Glory: The Golden Age of American Football, there’s a wide angle, end-zone photo of Chicago Bear Bob Jencks kicking an extra-point against Green Bay in the Bears’ 26-7 victory on their way to the 1963 NFL Championship.
I’m in the photo. I’m one of the spectator specks in the lower grandstand along Wrigley Field’s leftfield line. I remember the game vividly, as I do every Bears game I attended at Wrigley Field in the 1960s. It was as if everything good about life was condensed into three intense hours of Sunday afternoon.
But when I look at the photo, or any picture of a Bears game I saw between 1960 and 1965, I also feel like a crackhead looking at a picture of me doing my very first line of coke. For more than 50 years, I’ve been addicted to watching NFL football games at what feels like the cellular level, snorting the game long past the point where I derive any deep emotional satisfaction from the activity, let alone social benefit or monetary gain. For the last 10 or 15 years, I’ve tried to wean myself from the practice, but with no more success than my attempts to stop my decades-old two cigarette-a-day habit.