When I was growing up, the time from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve seemed like eternity. As a young boy, it seemed like time even moved slower as Christmas Eve approached. The anticipation was nearly too much to handle. Surprisingly, that same feeling is what I feel now regarding the upcoming NFL season. Thanks to the owners and players agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement at the beginning of this week, NFL fans will definitely have an NFL season.
With the business aspect of the league complete, I reflected back on the last five months and looked ahead to the next few months. Almost, without really making a concentrated effort, I was able to block out the NFL discussions because I didn’t know how the negotiations would end. I was excited in April when the NFL released the 2011 schedule but quickly realized that there may not be a season. From that point on, I followed the progress of the negotiations but never allowed myself to get too comfortable; from my perspective, it seemed like the negotiations were like a roller coaster ride. As the summer went by and people started looking forward to cooler temperatures, the start of school, autumn, football season, etc., I was nervous but confident the stakeholders in this issue would find a solution. After all, NFL football is as common to America as fireworks on the 4th of July. What would autumn and winter be like if there was no football? That was a question to which I didn’t want to know the answer.
When it was announced Monday afternoon that the owners and players had come to an agreement, it basically kicked off the activity that should have been happening the last four months. On one hand, I was somewhat disappointed the league came to a point where players were locked out, but on the other hand, I was happy we were past it and could focus on football and what happens on the field. The last week has been enjoyable because I’ve been able to follow the activity of each team as they look at their rosters and prepare for training camp, rather than the status of negotiations between the commissioner, lawyers, player representatives, etc.
I have watched NFL Total Access more the last four days than I have the last four months. I liked it best when Rich Eisen said “Game on!” It’s truly exciting to follow the activity in Denver, Colorado. There are so many story lines as the season is now officially underway. Who will be the starting quarterback when the Raiders visit Mile High Stadium in week one? What kind of defense will the Broncos have under new coach, John Fox? What running back will rise to the surface and carry the team? The list could go on and on, but it is refreshing to know that we’re there – it is time for football.
So the season has kicked off, and the anticipation is almost too much to bear. Like the time period from Thanksgiving until Christmas going so slowly, I think the time from now until the start of the season may seem like it will go just as slowly. Looking on the bright side though, there are many milestones before week one that will help pass the time…. preseason games, the shuffling of the Bronco roster, Fantasy Football preparation, my annual planning for Denver Bronco home games, and Shannon Sharpe’s induction into the Hall of Fame, to name a few.
If nothing else, the last four months remind us the NFL is truly a business, and unfortunately, sometimes business isn’t fun. However, we’re past that now and fans, coaches, and players can focus on the game…. doesn’t that sound nice – the game!
It is kind of like that feeling at Christmas when you rip the wrapping paper off a gift and are so excited, because it is exactly what you wanted. I think it is safe to say that every NFL fan just got that gift last week. Game on!