St. Petersburg, Florida
The only guys who don't get some cheap thrill out of the violent nature of football are the ones who don't watch it. For most men -- the same guys who clench their own fists during a boxing match and bob and weave in their seats -- a cathartic release occurs by watching a defensive back as he snares a wide receiver in mid-air and slams him back down to earth.
"No. It's a metaphor," Unterberg says. "At some level it gratifies the need for that. Maybe the ultimate demise of the opponent. Conquering the adversary."
What's so appealing about that? Fans of any age and size can vicariously play the game through the Monsters of the Midway without getting themselves beaten black and blue. "The violence is attractive," Shawn Cahill says. "When you see the highlights or bloopers, it's usually a big hit."
"I'm not a big fan of the violence," Bill Evans says. "It's a violent sport but it doesn't seem that many people get hurt."
In this way, Silva sees television as a cheap drug. Men think watching football makes them feel better because it provides a little release, but it may not necessarily be time well-invested.