The days are cold, the nights are long, and the only thing to do is talk about how the car won't start. The hype that fills the airwaves in the two-week interval between the last playoff game and the Super Bowl gives folks a chance to take their minds off all of that. That in itself is pretty altruistic. But factor in that simultaneously the open weekend gives fans a taste of life without football that's just around the corner and the NFL seems downright saintly.

The reason I bring this up is that I don't think it's a coincidence that the climax to the football season and the new year occur at the same time. I think they planned it on purpose for us to learn the lessons about life's lessons that football imparts.

I, for one, have learned several. To wit:
1. DON'T JUST PLAY BY THE RULES, MAKE THEM.
One of the worst things that can happen in this world of ours is a misunderstanding that escalates to an ugly brouhaha. Oftentimes, this can be avoided with a little advance rule-making.

In our home, for example, we have something we call Harkins' Law. The regulation was inaugurated years ago by my wife's deceased father, whose name was Wimpy (yeah, Wimpy, wanna make somethin' of it?) Harkins. It states that should a person leave his seat - on the couch, in the rocker, wherever - for any reason - beer, bathroom, fit of pique - the said seat can be seized by anyone who wants it and is able to get it.

Although painful in more ways than one to those who just can't hold it any longer and have to go, only to return to the living room to discover a smiling in-law triumphantly in possession of their beloved spot, its observance has helped keep the peace in obviously volatile situations. Because the law is invoked most often while viewing gridiron contests, we have football to thank.