Football: Our beloved fall roller coaster ride. We love it, we want it, we need it. It makes us cheer and swear. It enthralls and infuriates us. We raise our fists over scandals and fumbles, then in the next moment, we are overjoyed by the perfect play, the artful pass.

No man better embodies our complicated relationship with the game than tonight’s star NFL player, Tom Brady. He is brilliant—arguably the GOAT—but something about him also makes our antennae twitch, just a bit. His tale of resolve, redemption, and possibly questionable behavior (like most things football, your stance on this depends on your team affiliation) is our story, an American story. And we can’t look away. Like football, he can be heroic and mysterious, chivalrous and cruel.

No matter how you feel about Brady and the Patriots, one thing is certain: Tonight will be great football, and we will be watching.

Warm up for the game with these articles in recent Next Issue magazines. They take a fresh look at the game, its players—and those of us who gather on our couches with friends and family to watch them each week.

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Fear and Loathing

Sports Illustrated

Love them or hate them, the Patriots win games. They also get inside the heads of their opponents, who have accused New England of all kinds of treachery. What’s real, and what’s myth? And what does it matter anyway?

Dez Bryant: The Survivor

Rolling Stone

Dez Bryant is just one of the names you need to know this season. From poverty to fame, Bryant is the Dallas Cowboys’ most explosive star. Plus, read what really happens in the locker room, the new extra point rule, off-season disasters, and fantasy football’s effect on the game in Rolling Stone’s NFL special.

The NFL Player's Guide to Life

Men's Health

What does it take to become a premier athlete? Most of us will never need to know. But we can take their Jedi mind tricks and apply them to real life. Here’s how.

Revis, Party of One


Cornerback Darrelle Revis is a fierce negotiator—and a fearless loner who is unafraid to go it alone. Some call him greedy. He says he’s fighting for “fairness.” Either way, his game is all that matters.