Saturday, December 7th, 2019 — the day before the Rams game
The board on the table in the middle of the room resembled a chess set. 32 figures sat atop it, arranged in a complicated pattern. The board itself was covered in inscrutable markings; there was no way for anyone to know what any of the spaces on the board meant or where any of the figures could move next. No one, except for the Football God, who presided over the board by leaning over and pressing his palms into the table.
He appeared to be lost in thought, considering his next move. This was all an act, of course. The Football God always knew what he wanted to do next, but it was more fun to pretend he did what he did on a whim.
The other Gods had gathered, like they did every week. As much as people like to watch their football teams, the Gods like to watch their football counterpart rearrange the pieces and create their destinies. Most were extremely predictable: the War God wanted to fight, the Harvest God wanted to grow crops, etc. With a trickster like the Football God, though, you never really knew what he was going to do. That was interesting.
The King of the Gods, the strongest of all, glowered at the Football God. “Have the Patriots, finally, lost your favor?”
“Could be, could be,” said the Football God. “I’m rather enjoying pushing Lamar Jackson past them.”
The Love Goddess whispered to the Blacksmith: “Bet this whole ‘Patriots are bad now’ thing is just a feint until the playoffs.” The Blacksmith agreed to the bet.
As if he had heard, the Football God added, “Of course, I still might let the Patriots win in the playoffs.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” said the Blacksmith, under his breath.
“But what about the Seahawks?” asked the King of the Gods. “They are obviously morons, yet you keep letting them win. Surely you can’t continue with this…folly.”
All eyes turned to the miniature Pete Carroll figurine, sitting precariously on the board. The Football God was giving the Seahawks his blessing, over and over, pushing field goals away, dropping fumbles into their laps. The others seethed.
“They aren’t winning the right way!”
“Why don’t they stop running?”
“The humans are going to be suspicious if you keep letting them win incorrectly!”
But still, the Football God held them up, even ahead of even San Francisco, the War God’s current favorite.
“Oh, but isn’t it delightful?” crooned the Football God. “Their offensive philosophy is dinosauric, the defense can sometimes barely function, there’s no pass rush, the offensive line is one of the worst in the league, the schedule has been the most difficult…and yet here they sit in first place.” Everyone was upset, yelling in an incomprehensible cacophony. He pretended to hear, but really just thought about how much he loved his job.
“It makes me incredibly angry,” complained the Math God, so agitated he fumbled and nearly dropped his abacus. “They keep punting on 4th and 1 like idiots and then win anyway. Stop rewarding this team until it actually shows some courage and intelligence!”
“Yes,” said the King of the Gods. He stared at the Football God. “My fury is barely contained on the best of days, but today I struggle with all my might not to smite you where you stand.” He pointed to the Rams’ figure, a smug-looking Sean McVay. “Please do not tell me you plan to have them lose to the Seahawks again.”
The Football God knew he was in dangerous territory, but he wasn’t about to just capitulate. Everyone expected more out of him. “As a matter of fact, I was considering it.”
Angry murmurs went up from the surrounding gods, not unlike the audience at a concert upon learning the band did not intend to play popular older songs. The King of the Gods held a hand up to initiate silence. “And I, as a matter of fact, am suggesting you reconsider it.”
Staring at the board, the Football God did reconsider it. Well, he thought, I can only push this so far. It really would help if the Seahawks made it just a little easier on him. A trickster he was, but he could still be smited like anyone else. The Seahawks losing to the Rams wasn’t actually that devastating to his ultimate plan. No, in fact, this was an opportunity to make them think he was pivoting to their manner of thinking.
“I have made my decision,” the Football God said. He moved the Carroll and McVay pieces around the board, the other gods breathless in anticipation. Finally, he stopped. The result became clear. Someone gasped, but otherwise, there was silence.
“Well, that’s an ass-kicking you’ve signed them up for,” said the Math God finally, his tone indicating approval.
The King of the Gods appeared mollified. “That is more like it.” The Football God allowed himself a grin. So far, so good. The Seahawks would get hammered by the Rams, but it would change little of their ultimate destiny. He moved the remainder of the pieces around to settle the rest of the games, during which the little Messenger God piped up.
“Um, would you, maybe, just once, favor the Lions?”
“Nope. Never,” said the Football God. He had no idea why, but he really did hate the damn Lions.
The gods broke up, leaving with the belief that the Football God had come around to their way of thinking, that he was finally going to crush the Seahawks. For his part, the Football God couldn’t wait to reveal his Week 17 plans. The other gods might be in for quite a surprise.
Never doubt those with the trickster on their side.