Last Sunday was the first Sunday of the NFL season, and if you are a football fan, technology offers lots of ways to indulge your passion, especially if you cheer for a team in another city.
From keeping track of your fantasy teams right on your TV screen to watching and listening to live broadcasts on your cell phone, there are dozens of tools that will help you eat, sleep and breathe football throughout the season.
Watching and listening to games
My favorite team is the Philadelphia Eagles, but since there are three NFL teams in Florida, it's not often that I get to see the guys in green on the Sunday games shown by CBS and Fox. Luckily, there are lots of ways to watch out of market games.
• DirecTV: Customers who pay for the NFL Sunday Ticket package and the "SuperFan" option can watch every game on TV, on the computer or on mobile phones including the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Palm Pre.
• Sirius/XM radio: Sirius Satellite Radio has long been the home of radio broadcasts of every NFL game, but the merger of Sirius and XM Radio means XM customers can now listen to the broadcasts by adding the "Best of Sirius" package, which costs about $4 a month more.
• Slingbox: If you have a relative (or a second home) in the local TV market of your favorite team, buy a Slingbox ($180 or $300, slingmedia.com) and connect it to the TV there so you can tune in for all of the broadcasts of your team. You watch from anywhere via the Internet or a mobile phone, and there are no monthly fees.
• NFL Mobile from Sprint: If you've got a cell phone from Sprint, you can download this mobile application that lets you listen to broadcasts of every game from both the home and away radio teams, as well as watch the NFL Network live, which will broadcast eight games this year. If you have a data plan on your phone, the application is free. If not, it costs $15 a month.
• NFL Field Pass: For $40, you can listen to every game live this season on NFL.com. Listening to the broadcasts of one team costs $30, and you can buy a weekly pass for $5 or a monthly pass for $10.
If you're in a Fantasy Football league, your Sundays are spent not only watching games, but obsessively checking the computer to see how your players are doing. Many sports bars including Hooters, Smokey Bones, Buffalo Wild Wings and Miller's Ale House now offer free Wi-Fi, so you can bring your laptop along to keep tabs on your squad.
But you don't even need a computer to keep track of your Fantasy team. In addition using the Web browser on an iPhone, BlackBerry or other smart phone, lots of Fantasy sites have created mobile apps or mobile optimized Web pages including:
• ESPN Fantasy Football 2009 iPhone app($4.99): Manage your team, make changes, propose trades and even get personalized notifications of injuries, substitutions and scoring updates.
• Yahoo! Fantasy Football '09 mobile app for iPhone and select BlackBerrys (free): Follow your team as the games happen, add and drop players and other features.
• AT&T U-verse: Customers who have Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football teams can track the progress of their team on their TV through the AT&T U-bar interactive application.
Interacting with other fans
• Twitter conversations: Although the NFL is barring its players from tweeting during the game, and immediately before and after the contest, lots of fans like to express their thoughts on Twitter during games. To take part, visit search.twitter.com and put in your team's name to see what people are saying. Then start following those users and replying to them with your thoughts on the game. Another good resource is Twackle.com.
• Sports talk radio: There's nothing like sports talk radio to comfort you when your team losses, or let you soak in the excitement when they win. Besides listening on the station's Web site, there are several free mobile applications that let you listen to live sports talk radio on your phone. They include: AOL Radio (iPhone) and iheartradio (iPhone and select BlackBerrys).
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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Explore further: Don't count ATMs out just yet