For the first time in my life, I made a concerted effort to quit - cold turkey. I'd been hooked for the last 10 years, but I thought that I finally had pulled myself together.In September, I vowed I would not watch any pro football games this season. I would pursue constructive goals on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights: culture, exercise and women.
This preseason vow of abstinence was hard to keep. Old pleasant habits had to be uprooted and replaced. I began watching weekend football games at St. John's high school, then continued at the University of Notre Dame football not only provided me with gridiron thrills, but also with the rationale for five days of carousing in New Orleans before the 1974 Sugar Bowl, and a 10-day trip to Florida, through Disney world, to watch the 1975 Orange Bowl.
I sporadically watched pro football on TV in high school, but football doubleheaders were social events in college, especially as the weather thurned colder. Every Sunday at 1 p.m. small groups gathered by TV sets for an afternoon of entertainment, drinking and conversation. A resident of my dorm took bets for a bookie, which tended to make even the dullest game seem exciting. One young man I knew very well lost $120, his entire paycheck for a month from the cafeteria, in two weekends of betting on pro football games. I even watched, a sign of hopeless addiction, games involving the Chicago Bears with Bobby Douglass as quarterback.
I have been a changed man this season. I traveled to the beach one weekend (no TV at our house), played tennis, took bike hikes, climbed rocks at Great Falls, went to the Annapolis Boat Show and played basketball during televised pro football games. I avoided such temptations as my roommate's new color TV set, a tennis partner's discussions of his football bets, the office football pool and that picture of a voluptuous blonde Dallas Cowboy cheerleader.
But I began backsliding. I bet in the office football pool for Nov. 13, and then discussed and analyzed my picks with my roommate. The breaking of my preseason vow took about two minutes. My mother offered me an extra free ticket to the Redskin-Packer Monday night game. I eagerly accepted.
Why did I try to ignore pro football this season? Sally Quinn wrote a column in The Post on Sept. 20 that included. "The football season is like pain. You forget how terrible it is until it seizes you again," and ended with, "Isn't there any such thing as a good man who hates football?" I tried. I failed. I can live with it.
Face it, Sally. You're licked. I doubt that you would have to use more than the fingers on one hand to count the males in the United States past the age of 15 with access to a TV set who will not watch a pro football game this season. Bet on a couple of football games with a friend. You'll soon know the difference between a Post column and a post pattern. You may even turn into a fanatic, throwing your shoe through the TV set when your team fails to cover the points spread in the last minute of a game.
As for myself, I picked only nine winners in last week's office football pool. I've got some homework to do.