Full disclosure, I completely forgot about Week 18. At first, when I was editing Terry Cudmore’s weekly NFL picks, I simply thought he had made a mistake. And that happens. Although the shortest of all the four major sports, football season can feel like a marathon rather than a sprint, and occasionally you get lost in the weeds.
But it wasn’t Terry; it was me.
With the NFL’s addition of Week 18, rather than be excited about an extra week of football, I’m more sad I have to watch games that are whistle-to-whistle garbage time. No one likes watching a game where it’s just two practice squads manhandling each other. Seriously, preseason football fourth quarters on full display here in Week 18.
But I should be thankful, no? It is another week of football, after all. But… is it?
Two perfect metaphors come to mind: Spinal Tap’s Amps and Daylight Saving Time.
As we all know from the countless pop culture references, Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnel owns an amp that goes to 11 rather than the standard 10. To Tufnel, that means that these amps are louder than usual because 11 is more than 10, and thus they can go louder and kick into a new gear. Filmmaker Martin “Marty” Di Bergi points out that Tufnel should just set all his other amps to nine and then push to 10 to get that louder next level, but Tufnel’s no fool. You see, these amps of his go up to 11, which is more than nine and more than 10. These amps are louder.
So do we get more football? Yes. Is it better football than we got in last year’s Week 17? No, it’s the same. So why not just make Week 18 into Week 17? Because 18-weeks has more football.
On the other hand, this weird week of added football is like Daylight Saving Time. For those of you who live in Arizona, Daylight Saving Time of DST is the age-old practice of moving clocks ahead, usually by one hour, during warmer months so that the sun sets at a later clock time. Eventually, in the colder months, you will turn your clocks back an hour to offset the swift in the spring.
It’s fun. It’s cute. We all love it. But, this idea that we gain an hour instantly… that’s the idea that feels similar to Week 18.
If we gain an hour, when does that gained hour occur? I used to think that you acquired it right then and there. In the small hours of the morning. Magical hour time for everyone. However, as I grew up, I started to ask myself more about that hour. When do you gain that magical extra hour?
When did the NFL add a week? At the beginning of the season? The middle? We know it wasn’t at the end because the end of the season still looks and feels the same. So when did this hour get added? Did they slide one in between Week 8 and 9 and then just change the numbers around? If we got a magical extra week of football, when did it occur?
Suppose you googled “Time” (like me, an idiot). In that case, you’ll find it defined as “the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future.” That doesn’t help me too much, but I had to share with you the reason for my existential crisis.
In a way, Week 18 is the weirdest week in NFL history. It’s not because teams are phoning it in at the end of the season or because it’s unknown territory for the league. It’s just weird. It just is. It’s not like we got bonus football or more of anything. Truthfully, it feels like we forgot to appreciate the extra week when he had it.
For years, I would curse my past self for squandering that extra magical hour on another episode of Letterkenny or scrolling for an hour on Reddit. And then I realized I get the extra hour, so I have control of how it’s spent, whenever it’s spent. If I want to add an hour to my year, I can do it whenever I like.
And so, while Week 18 is weird as hell, I’m glad the NFL decided to let us have it. It might make no sense, but at least it exists, even if that existence is fleeting and complex.
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