The cool nights remind us. The leaves turning in the foothills remind us. The full-color preview in Tuesday's Deseret News reminds us. Yes, the football wars are here.

It's a glorious time of year for millions of men and a lesser number of women. But it's also a time for something else - big league guilt trips.Why guilt trips?

Because any intelligent, sensitive individual who sits in front of the tube hour after hour for Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, college football and untold numbers of weekend games can't help but have a guilty conscience. And it goes on and on for nearly five more months.

Now the purpose of this editorial is not to discourage TV football watching. That would be heresy. The purpose is to provide a real service to millions of sports fans by telling how to avoid a guilty conscience.

The trick is rationalization.

So what if your eyes are glazed over, your brain is mush, the lawn is unmowed, the kids are running wild, the house is a mess, and the spouse is giving you the silent treatment. It's what's in your head that counts.

For successful football-watching-without-guilt, you must make yourself believe you're accomplishing something worthwhile as you sit glued to the tube.

One fellow bakes Monday Night Bread as he watches Monday Night Football. If you time things right, you can get the kneading and mixing done during commercials and half-time and have piping hot break at the end of the game. All without missing a play. You'll have something tangible and tasty to show for your evening's enjoyment.

Another idea is to do pushups, situps, and run in place during commercials and half-time. You can get in a pretty good workout in a three-hour game and probably improve your physique tremendously over an entire season.

Or you could go the literary route. A football game offers enough breaks and slow times that you could actually improve your mind and exercise your brain if you use a little discipline. Memorize poetry. Read exerpts from a classic novel. Keep up to date on current events. Help a child with homework. Plan the week ahead. Work on your financial records. Use a little imagination. Be creative.

See, football can be productive. You can have your football game - and avoid a guilt trip, too.