As a New England Patriots fan, I'm sure glad there wasn't a game last weekend. It's not that I wasn't ready for one. The beer fridge was full and the pizza was pre-ordered. But after three tough weekends of playoff football, I definitely needed the break.
When you face the possibility of four rounds of playoff games, you better be prepared and you better be in shape. I started my training last January right after the Patriots lost the AFC Championship game to the Denver Broncos.
I knew that in order to make it all the way to the Super Bowl this year, I had to change my game plan. No longer could I allow myself to be fully emotionally invested in every game. I had to learn to pace myself.
So this season I made some trades. I bought a new TV with a faster remote. And I traded the rec room sofa for a new rocker-recliner with a built-in fridge.
With those improvements, I was now usually able to make it through regulation time without falling asleep. And there were fewer missed plays since I no longer had to walk to the main fridge when I needed a beer.
I also developed a new winning attitude. If I did fall asleep or run out of beer during a game, I didn't panic. I learned to take those setbacks in stride and move on.
I have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff as well. My wife and daughter were nothing but supportive, especially in the end-of-season drive to the playoffs. Although I suspect that the acquisition of a second TV had much to do with that support, it was appreciated nonetheless.
Focus is also a key in sports viewing success. My usual scattered viewing approach had to be jettisoned. No more multi-sports viewing and no more multi-team allegiances. Football season now means watching football games only.
Experience is a great asset, too. When you're young and don't need bifocals, you can watch several games at once, stay up past midnight and do it all again the following night. At my age, however, I know I can't do that anymore but experience has shown me how to pick my spots and concentrate my viewing energy.
I think the results speak for themselves. I'm into the final round and I feel great. As with any playoff run, I've had my ups and downs. I've even had my share of injuries like the bottle cap abrasion on my right hand and the pulled groin from leaning over too far to pick up the remote. But I've learned to tough it out and view through the pain.
I've also learned to avoid the highs and lows. For example, I didn't let falling asleep in Washington's late-night, overtime win against Dallas back in October set me back. I took it in stride and regrouped. I simply incorporated a pre-game nap into my routine which proved to be crucial in my successful viewing of subsequent games.
Sure, there have been some setbacks. Running out of chips in the Lions game could have been disastrous. Or the failure of the beer fridge in the win over the Dolphins could have spelled defeat. In past years, I might have panicked. But my newfound playoff viewing maturity saved the day. Backup supplies of ice and snacks gave me the ability to carry on.
So I'm looking forward to Sunday night's game with a steely confidence and renewed determination. I've learned to view the playoffs one game at a time. I'm able to give 110 per cent and I now know that I can take my viewing game to the next level. After all, I made it to the Super Bowl and it doesn't get any better than this.
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