It's hard to tell the difference between a football fan and a "Friday Night Lights" fan, since they both have the potential to cry during an NFL game. But for those of us who became attached to the NBC high school football drama before real-life NFL football drama, watching any game is a unique experience. Before the show you didn't care about the game, but now the problem is you care too much... and it's weirding all the regular football fans out. Here's how non-fans can develop an affection for the sport, watching through Coach Taylor's clear eyes and full heart.
You want to know who the players are dating.
Jason Street and Tim Riggins were the original Russell Wilson and Golden Tate. Unlike Street, Wilson only injured his pride and the rumors were denied, but there was no denying Riggins' lust for his buddy's first love, Lyla.
You believe that behind every good player there's one good woman.
Professional football players do not have the best track record when it comes to marriage, but the possibility that one of them had a coach like Eric Taylor to show an example of what real love is gives us hope.
You think all of the players on the team are friends.
When you can't picture a team sharing a pizza together, how can you imagine them winning a game together together? Hometown aside, you chose which team to route for based on how much the players seem to genuinely love each other.
You care more about the effort than understanding the play.
As far as you're concerned, a safety is just what Matt Saracen is looking for in his relationships. You're just proud of both teams for showing up and doing their best.
When they're down, you worry about how players are doing psychologically.
Not knowing which team to cheer during the Super Bowl, you were mostly concerned with the mental state of both teams when they were coming from behind. Every coach should have a Taylor-made speech memorized and ready to go for such moments.
You believe head coaches are the best dads ever, even if they don't have kids.
The lack of warmth behind Belicheck's eyes is the only thing that upset you about the Patriots clutch win. How are you supposed to ask a guy that looks like that for advice, let alone a hug?
You assume all the players are from small towns.
Dillon, Texas isn't even a real town, but you're convinced all the best football players are similarly homegrown, with manners and possibly a pick up truck. You assume they would also eat a pigeon to prove a point.
You think all kickers are nerds.
Landry Clarke is many things, but aside from a brief stint as a vigilante, he's mostly a brainiac who kicks a football sometimes. This only raises the question — isn't every kicker?
When a player comes from a rich family, he seems like a bad guy.
It's no fun to route for a player who hasn't had to overcome any odds, which is why everyone kind of hated JD McCoy. He's ultimately a good player and his family is not his fault, but tell that to The Manning Brothers.
You take it personally when players aren't stand up guys.
When Smash dabbled in steroids, he insulted everyone who believed in him as a fictional character. When real players are part of a public scandal, it provokes a similar disappointing feeling. You're not even a fan of the team. You're just a fan of humanity.
If someone gets hurt, you just can't.
Jason Street's paralyzing injury is a harsh reminder of what real football players risk playing such a dangerous sport. According to September 2014 documents filed in federal court on the NFL's behalf, one -hird of professional football players will develop long term cognitive issues due to brain trauma. When the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell got hit so hard last November his helmet fell off and then had to give back his touchdown back, you weren't sure why you were in tears but you wished Tami Taylor would yell at someone about it.
But nothing makes you cry like watching players become champions.
You don't root for a specific team or athlete, you're hoping both teams are good men who show as much heart as athletic ability. Real teams may not be able to nail that clean-cut television balance, but you want to believe that the guys celebrating on the field earned it — both as people and players.