MIKE ROYKO RELEASE: 01/18/90 (ATTENTION EDITORS: Mike Royko is on vacation until Jan. 29. While he is away, we are resending some of his favorite columns from the past.) PUNT THIS MARRIAGE By Mike Royko I've known the two of them for years, and it used to be a good marriage. And sometimes it still is. But now there is stress, tension and conflict that could send the marriage into the courts. ``I love her,'' the husband told me, ``but I don't know if I can take it. After all these years, we might be headed toward Splitsville.'' (For those who are not followers of gossip columns, Splitsville is where estranged couples are always heading.) You used to be so happy, I pointed out. What went wrong? ``You won't believe this. Or maybe you will. But the problem is pro football. Sunday football.'' I wasn't surprised. Sunday football is a common cause of marital conflict. You want to watch the game. But your wife doesn't want to. ``No, that's not it. That used to be a problem. We quarreled a little over that. But it was nothing real serious.'' Then what is the problem? ``The problem is that last year, she decided that as long as I was going to watch football every Sunday, she'd watch it with me. She said: `If you can't beat `em, join `em.' ``So now, when the game starts, she's right there in front of the TV with me. If there's more than one game on, she'll watch both of them with me. And she watches Monday night football with me, too.'' But that's wonderful. It's togetherness. It shows a laudable willingness on her part to learn to share your interests. She's a fine woman. ``It's awful. I can't stand it. I might move out.'' But why? Does she eat too much of the pizza? ``No. It's the things she says. You see she just doesn't understand the game. Even worse, she thinks it's funny. Can you imagine -- thinking that professional football is funny?'' No, I can't imagine that. What does she think is so funny? ``I'll give you some examples. Let's say a linebacker really goes after the quarterback, but a back blocks him, so the announcer says: `He picked up the blitz.' ``And she says: `He picked up the blitz? Is that something like getting herpes?' ``Then there's a pass play, and the announcer says: `He ran a down-and-out.' And she says: `Oh, the poor man is down and out. I feel so sorry for the truly destitute.''' Oh, a few wry remarks can't be that bad. ``A few? Every play. The announcer says: `They're going into their nickel defense,' and she'll say: `What tightwads. You'd think they could afford a fifty-cent defense or even one for a dollar. I mean, you get what you pay for, right?' ``And every time the announcer says that they're going into the `pro set,' you know what she does? She holds up her beer and yells: `Prosit to you!' That's German for `cheers.' Then she belts down the beer and the next time he says they're in the pro set, she does it again: `Prosit, prosit, cheerio, down the hatch!''' That could be a bit distracting. ``Every time the announcer says that they threw to the tight end, she says: `Is that fellow tight again? My goodness, he was tight last week, and the week before. He's been tight all season. Why can't they get him into an AA program. I mean, he's still young and could be rehabilitated. Tsk, tsk, such a fine-looking boy, too.' ``And if the tight end drops the ball, she'll say: `See? They should throw it to one of their sober people.' ``Then if they throw it to the wide receiver, she'll say: `You know, that announcer must be blind or there's something wrong with our picture, because he's not wide at all -- why, he's very slender. Don't you think he's slender? I think he's slender. Why, if they think he's wide, what would they think of Mrs. Johnson down the street, with her hips. Now there's somebody who's really wide.' ``If the strong safety is in on a play, or gets mentioned for anything, she'll say: `Those announcers are so biased. I don't think that he's any stronger than that safety, but they never mention that the other fellow is strong. And even if he is stronger, why do they have to keep talking about it? The other safety must get very discouraged.' ``Then they'll say something about the nose guard. And she'll always say something like: `That must be such a dull job. I could see being a bank guard, or a prison guard, but who would want to be a nose guard? Besides, why would anybody want to steal a nose in the first place? I think they are just paranoid, if you ask me.''' I don't know how you stand it. ``I don't think I can take another season of it. You know what she said during the last exhibition game? The announcer identified one of the linemen as a pulling guard, and she said: `I really think that is a terrible invasion of his privacy. I mean, a man's sex habits are nobody's business but his own.' No, I can't take it. I might just pack up and move out.'' Look, maybe for the sake of your marriage you should give some thought to not watching football. I know it's a lot to ask, but why don't you turn on some other sport. ``I tried it. I watched tennis.'' What happened? ``The announcer said: `Love-three.' ``She said: `How promiscuous. Disgusting.''' (C) 1990 BY THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC. -- This, and all articles in this news hierarchy are Copyright 1990 by the wire service or information provider and licenced to Clarinet Communications Corp. for distribution. Except for free samples, only paid subscribers may access these articles. Any unauthorized access, reproduction or transmission is strictly prohibited. We will reward the first provider of information that helps us stop violators of this copyright. Send reports to firstname.lastname@example.org.