Alright people. So, here’s the deal: I, the author of this post, am in fact a current player in the NFL.* This is 100% true. I’m a backup, yes, but I’m still making an obscene amount of money for playing a stupid game, so it works for me. Actually, it works great. Because most of the time I’m just standing on the sideline with my thumb up my ass, making hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Sounds easy, right?
It’s not. See, even when you’re doing nothing, you always have to look like you’re doing something productive. Your coaches, the GM, reporters, even the interns on the training staff — there’s always someone watching you. It’s not easy pretending to do something important when you’re completely checked out. In fact, it’s a lot of work. (Or maybe it’s a lot of fun. I can never remember which. A couple cracks to the noggin and you wouldn’t remember either.)
Here are six tips to help you be a professional bencher in the NFL.
1. Stand near a table. Of course, it can’t just be any table, that would be silly. Specifically,stand near the table where your team’s tech guy is uploading photos of the last series onto the team’s Microsoft Surfaces for the players to study.
Sometimes I’ll look at the photos like I myself am studying them. Sometimes I’ll hand the Surfaces to other players who actually do want to look. Sometimes I’ll wonder why the league didn’t go with real iPads instead of Surfaces. (My theory: Apple has so much cash they don’t give a damn about the NFL’s money.)
This tactic generally only works for about five minutes at a time before the computer guy realizes I’ve just been constantly crop-dusting him.
2. Clap your hands or raise your fists when something good happens.
It’s critical that the head coach or at least the position coach actually sees the hand-claps or the fist pump, otherwise what’s the point?
It’s even more critical that you only clap your hands or raise your fists when your team does something good, and not the other team. Even if Brady does some crazy shit and deep down in your gut you really, really want to cheer for the guy, just hold off, because that can look all sorts of bad when you’re down 21 in the 3rd.
3. Look like you’re talking to someone about football. To pass the time — these games are like four hours, that’s a lot of time to stand around doing nothing — backups like to conversate.
To make it look like you’re talking about football — and not about that stripper Candy you think you got pregnant — make sure you stand next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, without making eye contact and facing the field. Keep your eyes locked on wherever the ball happens to be. Remember to turn your head to follow the action. Once you get the hang of that, try something more advanced, like pointing and nodding. Do not laugh or smile, because football is serious business.
4. Hand one of the starters a can of beer. I mean gum. Damn, I wish we could drink during games.
Standing on the sidelines doing nothing can really make a guy hungry, so I always load up the pockets of one of the inactive players with supplies — sunflower seeds, granola bars, gum. (A buddy of mine actually manages to sneak entire hotdogs onto the sideline from the locker room. He’s talented.)
Then, when one of the starters starts shouting that he wants a piece of gum but the idiot trainers can’t find any — I got him covered. I slap the rookie, he tosses me a piece, and there I am to save the day. Now our starting guard who’s getting his doors kicked in can chew all that nervousness away.
Did I mention I wish we could drink during games?
5. Pretend to listen to your coach while saying “no doubt!” repeatedly.
I’m an offensive lineman. When the defense is on the field,all the offensive linemen gather round the OL coach to discuss adjustments to the game plan. To make it seem like I’m engaged, I’ll take a knee near the coach and cock my head to the side, like I’m listening. Sometimes, just to change things up, I’ll stand on the edge of the group with my hands behind my back.
If the coach actually speaks to you, don’t panic. Just nod your head knowingly and say “no doubt!” over and over again. You can also say things like “OK” and “you’re right” and “you’re always right.” He’s not actually talking to you, just listening to himself talk. I think next week I’ll try saying some random shit like “chameleon!” or “popcorn!” or “popcorn-flavored chameleon!” He won’t even flinch.
6. Stand by yourself and stare intently out at the field while thinking about all the other things you’d rather be doing and all your hopes and dreams that will never, ever be realized.
Honestly, that’s pretty much it. That’s really how I spend most of my time in general. Unless I’m sitting on the bench, which is heated and nice and warm.
* You may have guessed that “NFL Confidential” isn’t my real name. Congrats, you’re right! I can’t tell you my real name, because the NFL doesn’t like sarcasm. They like grit and toughness and profits. I have a book coming out called “NFL Confidential,” and it’s all about my screwed-up life in football and how the NFL generally sucks.
I think we can both agree that you should click on this link and buy yourself many, many copies. Thanks!