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Help us, Betty Ford: NFL addicts search for rehab

Page 2 columnist

Ray Lewis might not be going to Disneyland, but we're all going to hell, my friends.

Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson and the NBA aren't manly enough to match the NFL.
The moment the nation was introduced to Survivor's latest rack of fame-mongers, the bell tolled for NFL football -- unless you count the Pro Bowl, the NFL's answer to phone sex. I don't even think the players' count it, given the flag-football intensity level on display between mai tais.

And now, we stare out at the arid, decidedly un-tundra-like maw of the long, bitter offseason. Sunday is now remarkably similar to Tuesday. And it hurts, dammit.

Makes me think of George Allen, who once said, "Every time you lose, you die a little bit. You die inside. A portion of you. Not all of your organs. Maybe just your liver."

Expect to sleep at first. A lot. Maybe 17 hours a day for three weeks. But you can't put off the day of reckoning. Then where do you turn?

The NBA? This a league of girl-fights. Kobe-Shaq, Brown-Iverson, Jordan-Actually being in Washington. All I see is a lot of huffy jackasses, and not one of them has ever taken a head slap to the ear hole. Maybe that's the problem. To quote Dr. Smith of "Lost in Space": "Oh Dear."

The NHL? As close as you'll come, but still, we have some problems. Too many teams, and the white noise of too many damn games. The NHL has been in expansion mode since 1969. I can't keep track. I love the game, I follow the game, and trust me, I can't keep them straight. The Wild? Geh?

The XFL? Without passing any more judgment on the fledging league and provoking more delightfully hateful fan mail, I submit that in pro football, the gap is the premise. If you can't suck it up and suffer month after month of pro tennis leading SportsCenter, then you don't deserve your face paint. No pain, no gain.

So you've got two options: Run away. Or drive from the hips, be savage again, and go through the problem. Embrace the emptiness. Embrace the pain. Then get your ever-widening rump flanks out of the inflatable, NFL-licensed chair, and make adventure your co-pilot. If I may, allow me to offer some ways to sculpt your very own offseason program, and keep your football spirit alive:

Sergei Krivokrasov
Minnesota Wild? Lubomir Sekeras, left, Sergei Krivokrasov, center, and Roman Simicek? Geh?
  • Wear a pork suit to an animal shelter.

  • Get 'scoped, just for kicks.

  • Attend the draft and bait Raiders fans with the huge "Immaculate Reception" tattoo on your chest.

  • Initiate "contact" at the supermarket.

  • Celebrate Wear-Your-Helmet-to-Work Day.

  • Play your NFL Films "Power and the Glory" CD, during sex, with yourself or a partner. I don't judge.

  • Brag about your electric car to a NASCAR driver.

  • Put all your money in dot-com stocks.

  • Force yourself to watch "Bette."

  • Stand between Tony Siragusa and a plate of ziti. Or a photo op, for that matter.

  • Arrange to ride along with your local bomb squad.

  • Or you can surrender to the beast and hibernate. Arrange for a medically induced coma -- but, for God's sake, if you're going to do it, make sure you don't come out too soon. Forget the draft, forget the preseason, forget the teasing torture of the Hall of Fame game and the garish sight of enshrinee's Vermieling. I suggest you wait until the fourth preseason game finally starts to taste metallic and bloody. Then and only then, will you feel truly alive again.

    Good luck, and make sure you've paid your bills through August.

    Humorist Nick Bakay, currently a writer for the CBS sitcom "King of Queens," is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. He has a Web site at

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  • in a fix 

    Bakay's Tale of the Tape: Super Bowl vs. Survivor

    Bakay: Baltimore vs. New York Tale of the Tape

    Bakay: Shaq vs. Kobe Tale of the Tape

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    Bakay: Wrestling with the XFL

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