596 words Their title:
[NOTE: I submitted this Friday, naturally assuming the Broncos will beat the Raiders]
It's cooler and fewer people sit outside so it seems crowded inside Avogadro's. Luckily, Seymour Sharpe had a booth. I slid in beside him. "You're awful friendly," he said.
"I don't want anyone to overhear."
"Ooooo, you got something juicy? The down and dirty on corrupt marrying judges or cops with Nazi tendencies?"
"Worse. I hope the Broncos lose soon."
He looked around to make sure no one had heard. He whispered, "Are you crazy? Everyone likes a winner."
I nodded. "Winning is good. But perfection is not all it's cracked up to be. I used to be a big football fan. Living in Homestead just south of Miami, I cheered for the Dolphins. I sat through the longest game in NFL history--seven quarters of a playoff with the Kansas City Chiefs--and then I watched every game of the perfect dream season: fourteen regular games and two playoffs that led to the Big Kahuna. They played like a well-oiled machine. Larry Little, a defensive lineman, was my Phys Ed teacher. I lived and breathed football."
He smirked. "Surely you did other things during football season."
"Of course. I believe I got my first driver's license, won a trip to Bell Labs for me and my science teacher, lost my virginity. But nothing mattered besides the Dolphins winning on Sunday."
"Sounds avid." He leaned away from me. "You want the Broncos to lose because you don't want them destroying memories of a perfect season."
I noticed a couple guys staring at me. They looked like linebackers for the Rams. "No," I said clearly, "I hope the Broncos go undefeated all the way to the Super Bowl." The two guys turned back to their sub sandwiches. "Let's go outside," I whispered. We put on our jackets and carried our coffee outside where we found a sunny spot on the grass away from the patio where a few people sat. I held my cup in both hands to keep warm. "The problem isn't the perfect season. It's the next. Nothing's good enough anymore."
"I see," said Seymour. "Even a repeat is just more of the same."
I nodded. "The Dolphins won the Super Bowl the next year, too, but I didn't care. Csonka had left and they'd lost a few games. It wasn't the same. The year after, I quit watching football completely. The thrill wasn't there."
He nodded sympathetically. After a contemplative sip of coffee, he asked, "What got you started again?"
"The Broncos. I was working at a factory stacking paper down in Colorado Springs. It was boring so we talked about anything that came to mind. When the Broncos made the playoffs, everyone talked about them so I started watching on Sundays to keep up my end. Then they lost the Super Bowl and I was hooked."
"You came back to the sport because the Broncos lost?" He looked like he wanted to sic those linebackers on me.
"Not for losing, but for the way they played. You could never tell what Elway was going to do. He'd scramble, he'd fling desperate passes. One time he even punted. The defense juked people around and special teams faked field goals The Broncos can win the Super Bowl this season playing regular football. I'd hate to see them get uptight trying to maintain a perfect record. And if they did win every game, I'm not sure how many fans they'd have the next year." I raised my coffee cup. "Here's to an exciting imperfect season."