Everyone drinks on Superb Owl Sunday, and there are hordes of police outside every home in America to make damned sure everybody does, from nonagenarians to infants. It is the law.
Thus, this Sunday will be yet another Legacy Drinking Game special, in which you, the canny consumer, gather with your friends and wait for the one magic word that will be beaten roadkill flat before kickoff.
And no, it is not Budweiser.
It is “legacy,” a now meaningless word made that way by an army of TV and radio producers and newspaper and magazine editors who want history declared daily and wrapped around a catchall phrase that gnaws at the nation’s soul every time it is emitted.
“What is Such-and-What’s legacy?”
This week, it has been Peyton Manning, who apparently must win the game by himself or forever be cursed as one of the 10 greatest quarterbacks in the game’s history.
And it has been Cam Newton, who has been declared a polarizing figure by people who need polarization to give meaning to their otherwise coal-miners’ day, and whose performance Sunday will determine if his legacy of the day will be “black annoying gifted megalomaniac charming mold-breaking spread-buster.”
And when we say “legacy of the day,” we are saying that no legacy can be permanent if you ask every day what someone’s legacy is. What is Peyton Manning’s legacy now? What will it be tomorrow? What will it be on Thursday?
[RATTO: 2016 Hall of Fame class triumph for those who thrived out West]
Truth be told, you actually only get one legacy as an athlete, and it happens when you stop being a public figure -– so, kind of when you die. Indeed, O.J. Simpson’s legacy took a bit of a turn after his retirement as an athlete, just to provide one example.
Thus, speaking of Manning’s legacy even this close to retirement, or Newton’s legacy at all, is the act of a lazy-thinking dullard. The definition of the word presumes permanence, and the way we bandy it about now presumes: “We have a segment of air time/a newspaper column/two full magazine pages to fill, and someone talked about this yesterday, so it must be good enough to haul out again, only with a different twist.”
This would be a maddening development for viewers, listeners and readers if not for the one way we all agree can make unpleasantness go away –- drinking the repetition.
Thus, Sunday’s newest way to enjoy the day now that DraftFansDuelKings is on its last thirty to forty legs is to line up shots and play Legacy. Every time someone brings it up, you drop a jigger of something industrially medicinal.
True, the danger here is that you’ll be on your rooftop raging at the overhead planes in your underwear by 10 a.m. and catatonic by noon, thus significantly limiting your enjoyment of the game. But you can always water down the drinks. Or you could drink water, and take points off every time you have to use the facilities. There are lots of ways to do this, but the message is clear.
The concept of “legacy” has become a gigantic, painful fraud loosed upon a nation that deserves better. Not much better, I grant you, but better.
But you may as well get something out of it, so a few laughs with your friends and neighbors, a bathroom that smells like the floor of a saloon after the fleet’s been though, and a massive hangover that would not fit in the overhead bin on a coast-to-coast flight would be damned near worth the trouble.
It surely could not be worse than the pain of hearing the word for the entire day while sober.