Diehard NFL fans, grab your remote control and say goodbye to friends and family (well, maybe just your family): The new season is here, and your Sunday viewing options have increased.
Remember those innocent days when watching the NFL meant getting comfortable on the couch with a six-pack and a bag of chips, and taking in some pregame analysis from the likes of Brent Musburger and Jimmy the Greek before watching whatever local team happened to be on that week?
Go ahead, it's okay to laugh.
For today's NFL fan -- often more obsessed with how his fantasy team is doing than with any actual games -- that kind of viewing is alarmingly quaint.
Inundated with options, on television and on the radio, the real question now is: Where can you go to get away from the NFL on Sunday? Who knows?
But who would want to find out that answer anyway?
This year there are a few new wrinkles that will make Sundays that much more exciting.
Some of the most eye-catching come from DirecTV. Those DirecTV customers who shell out the approximately $150 for the NFL Sunday Ticket can become a "SuperFan" for just $99 more. And just what kind of goodies come with being a SuperFan?
One is the Red Zone Channel, which offers highlights during the day and will switch to games for possible big plays -- almost like a person with physic remote control powers. There is one caveat, however. The games shown on the channel will all be games being broadcast on Fox. So you still need to stay on your toes for games being shown by CBS.
Of course, if viewers want to monitor the games on their own (and let's face it, NFL fans are loath to give up control of the remote control), DirecTV offers a channel where you can watch up to eight games at one time. Just imagine the possibilities: eight games, 16 teams, eight television analysts straining to make football seem as complicated as quantum physics.
And if one game in particular catches your eye, you can go exclusively to that game and switch back to the eight-game screen whenever the mood strikes.
It's the closest any football fan will come to being a master of the universe.
The options are so all-encompassing that one online sports columnist rhetorically asked whether the folks at DirecTV were trying to break up his marriage. The answer is, no, they're not. They just want his money.
There are also options for those fans who actually have things to do on Sundays beside watching for hours as large men in pads and helmets hit each other repeatedly. Two Short Cuts channels replay every play of games, commercial free, in 30 minutes or less.
The NFL Network will get in on the act without even broadcasting a game. Every Sunday from 1-8 p.m., the network will provide up-to-the-minute statistics, manna for the fantasy football player. For the non-fantasy football player, it's almost enough to make you want to start playing. If there's all this programming simply for one group of people, they must be on to something.
Even for those fans who may be traveling on Sundays or just running errands, there is a way to keep track of every NFL game. Sirius Satellite Radio provides subscribers the option of listening to live play-by-play by either the home or away broadcast team from each game. All for the monthly price of $12.95 (plus the initial cost of the radio unit, which starts around $150).
And, as always, for those without a subscription to DirecTV or satellite radio, there are the mainstays of the NFL: CBS, Fox and ESPN.
Watching the games that way almost makes you feel nostalgic.