a blogumn by Ryan Dixon

In which we ponder the mysteries of football while eating buffalo wings, but not Meatballs.


Teaching My Girlfriend about Football

Not Ryan ... yet. Photo Credit: Hyrck

Not Ryan ... yet. Photo Credit: Hyrck

One of the ancient rituals of courtship is the indoctrination into the habits, hobbies and areas of interest of your newly conjoined “other half.” This is a mandatory step in any relationship, if for no other reason than it can serve as a warning sign for future troubles. For example, one might want to think twice about marrying someone with a rabid passion for animal mutilation.

Since the relationship prognosticators have thus far been proven wrong and my girlfriend of six months has yet to break up with me, I now find myself in the precarious position of having a “significant other” in September. Translation: If she wants to see me for the next sixteen Sundays, she better be prepared to say goodbye to mimosa-infused brunches and get ready to pound down IC Lights (or at least a nice microbrew or two) at Los Angeles-based Steelers’ bars. It’s football season in America.

In an effort to help us get closer as a couple, I’ve embraced the challenge of teaching her about the mysteries of the pigskin for three reasons:

1. She’s a lot smarter than me in most other areas, so I don’t have a lot of other opportunities for “teaching moments.”

2. Many of my previous girlfriends knew a lot more about football than I.

3. There have been periods of my life when I didn’t have a girlfriend to teach anything to.

(For the record, there’s been a lot more of the #3 than #2 in my life. In fact, I would say #3 is one of the major reasons I became a football fan in the first place.)

However, after only one week of trying to be a sage gridiron tutor, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no other sport, art form, or scientific discipline that’s harder to explain than football.

During last week’s Steelers game, I elucidated with confidence and aplomb that each team had players delegated for “offense” and “defense,” but when my girlfriend asked what exactly constituted pass interference, I stammered more than George W. Bush at a spelling bee. Throughout that one game there were at least five separate occasions when arguments with the others at my apartment (die-hard football fans, one and all) regarding NFL rules ended only when we came to the mutual realization that none of us knew the answer.

There’s no other hobby or area of interest that a couple could share that rivals the years of commitment needed to truly understand the game of professional football. A regular fan trying to teach a novice the game is like trying to teach someone poetry by skipping Robert Frost and jumping right into John Donne. But even that analogy fails to fully render football’s complexity. After all, the metaphysical poets didn’t have to rhapsodize on the tuck rule.

Quite simply, football is filled with enough rules, laws and sub-sections of rules and laws to make even St. Thomas Aquinas break out into a full blown case of flop sweat. The labyrinthine constructs of Summa Theologica pales in comparison to the NFL Rulebook. Along with jerseys, mugs and key chains, the NFL should start selling law degrees.


Buffalo Wild Wings 4CPWhiteBorderTagMy criteria for what makes a great restaurant is based more often on the conversation elicited during the meal, rather than the food consumed. You can have Per Se; I’ll take a darkened booth at Pizza Hut. Having dined at Buffalo Wild Wings, the nation’s preeminent Buffalo wing chain, many times during my college years and, having a great number of wide-ranging and profound discussions within those walls — surprisingly chicken wings is a perfect food to help launch discourses into both the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre and hotness of Marisa Miller — I was ecstatic when, in the fall of 2005, I heard a local Los Angeles radio station air an advertisement for this franchise I only thought existed on the east coast.

After a quick googling I discovered that there was indeed a location within driving distance–51 miles east of Los Angeles in the city of Rancho Cucamonga, CA (yes, that’s its real name). I immediately organized the first of many group expeditions into the California desert, often for Buffalo Wild Wing’s “Boneless Thursdays” where each processed, deep-fried, and delicious piece of sauce encased chicken could be had for only 50 cents.

Since some of the less adventurous souls in my social circle considered 51 miles a long distance to drive for chain-restaurant boneless wings, subterfuge was often needed to convince them to go (“Yeah, it’s located right outside Pasadena.” I would tell them – a truthful statement if you consider 40 miles “right outside”), but once they came along, every single one had an exceptional dining experience and, thereafter, often spoke in wistful tones about return visits.

A year ago my roommate Zac, in one of his more Quixotic endeavors, decided that he wanted to open a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise in our home base of Burbank. During a visit to the Rancho Cucamonga location, Zac asked the store manager about the steps he needed to take to own and operate a franchise.

Unfortunately, Zac’s hopes were dashed when the manager informed us that a Buffalo Wild Wings was scheduled to open in Burbank in the near future. It was a reverse Pyrrhic victory; despite being dealt this entrepreneurial set back, we were ecstatic– we didn’t really want to make wings, we wanted to eat them. Our (non-believing) prayers had been answered.

This Monday, September 21st, Buffalo Wild Wings Burbank opens it doors and the first 50 customers will get free wings for a year. I’m not much for camping out for movies or concerts, but the thought of a year of free wings is an offer I simply cannot refuse. Let’s just hope that I can prevent myself from gaining so much weight that my fingers get too fat to type next week’s blogumn.*

* A common misperception about wings, boneless or otherwise: They’re not particularly healthy for you. In fact, recent studies have shown that they’re actually unhealthy for you. Shocking, I know.


Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Because I refuse to see a film with animation not even good enough for an episode of My Little Pony.

P.S. You can read all about my first Buffalo Wild Wings Burbank experience if you follow me on Twitter. My username is ryanbdixon. I might not taste as good as a boneless wing, but I’m much healthier.