When our parents first sat us on their knees and taught us the concept of first and ten, when they bought us our first jerseys and led us in our first chants, they pointed to the field and said, “That is your team, son. Love her. Marry her.” And so we did.

But then she died. Either she died before the playoffs even began or she died on wild card weekend or she died during the championship game. Either way, she broke our hearts. But a few months later, we’d mended those organs with a dose of self-deception and were ready to love again.

“This year, things will be different,” we told ourselves. “The experts are wrong, corrupted with East Coast bias or some other judgment-compromising condition. This year, our draft picks will pan out. This year, our new defensive scheme will produce results. This year, our bride will live.”

Then she died five minutes into the first quarter of the first game when our quarterback was lost for the season with a knee injury. “Ah, well, maybe she’ll live next year.”