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Heaven is watching the Dallas Cowboys lose

Last Sunday was absolutely gorgeous, or so I've heard.

According to the National Weather Service Web site, Jan. 13 was blessed with bountiful sunshine, mostly clear skies and a slight chill breeze, just to keep us honest.

I wouldn't know.

My confession: I, along with a room full of fellow cave-dwelling sadomasochists, spent the most beautiful day we've had in quite some time parked in the Oak Tree watching behemoths in helmets and shoulder pads try their hardest to kill each other.

It's a shame, really. Southern Oregon is an outdoor treasure that should be appreciated any and every chance one gets.

One of my many New Year's resolutions was to get out more and enjoy the snow and mountain air this winter.

And I'll do just that. Right after Feb. 3 when Super Bowl XLII decides the NFL champion.

I can't explain my interest in football. I never played the sport beyond eighth grade. When freshman year came, I took a look around and quickly realized that everyone grew and I didn't. And so ended my career as a defensive end for the Casey-Westfield Braves.

No big deal.

My college days were spent at times resenting the Midwest football machine that drains scholarships from deserving students in order to win that vaunted Big 10 title.

Not to mention I was an English major, constantly surrounded by bookish types who by their very nature abhor the sight of the ol' pigskin.

But there I was every Sunday, oftentimes alone, sitting in my dorm room watching The Game from noon till 6 p.m. and then from 7 till 10:30 p.m. that night.

This past Sunday was no different.

I arrived at the Oak Tree promptly at 10 a.m. just in time for kickoff. I was vaguely aware that it was shaping up to be a nice day outside.

Did I feel the requisite amount of guilt ignoring blessed Mother Nature for the Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers AFC Divisional playoff game? Yep.

Was this nagging guilt enough to motivate me to leave my booth right next to the massive flat-screen television blaring into my ear? Nope.

The game sometimes lends itself to fascinating sociological observations.

After watching a football game in Oregon, you are hit with just how fractured the populace is.

I expected to be overwhelmed by Seattle, Oakland and San Francisco fans upon moving west, but the opposite holds true. In any given sports bar from here to Portland, you are just as likely to see Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, or, thankfully, Chicago Bears fans.

Natives are no doubt horrified by these facts, but as Oregon continues to morph into a suburb of Orange County, they may as well learn to live with it. Or move to Nebraska. I hear it's nice for six days in the fall.

Many times I've seen these little fan factions nearly come to blows in local sports bars. This threat of violence enhances my Sunday afternoons.

Last Sunday, however, was relatively quiet. Throughout the day I caught glimpses of the daylight fading along with my self-respect.

My girlfriend joined me for a brief moment, shook her head in disappointment and then left.

Everyone who walked in the Oak Tree that day sang a similar tune.

"Man, it's a shame to sit around and watch football on a day like this," they said, eyes cast downward.

But sit around and watch football all day they did.

Like you, I too get tired of the soap opera-like storylines outside the game. Joe Namath inserted celebrity into the NFL in the early '70s, thereby tarnishing its reputation for generations.

In fact, most of the blather this week centered around Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo's dalliance in Mexico last week with Jessica Simpson.

What did it have to do with the game? Nothing, clearly. Far be it from ESPN to ignore pointless information during a 24-hour news cycle.

Say what you want about the hoopla surrounding the sport, the game itself is pure and at times sublime.

Earlier this season, I watched New England Patriots receiver Randy Moss spin around a defender in the end zone and make a one-arm catch in the crook of his arm.

Physically, this should be impossible. It looked as if the ball magically passed through the defensive back's body the way bullets flew harmlessly through Patrick Swayze in "Ghost."

The defender looked as bewildered as I. This confusion quickly gave way to awe and respect for the skills needed to compete in this most brutal of sports.

Dear god. Did I just make a Patrick Swayze reference? Now you see why I never made it on the gridiron.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.