Column: The NFL finally returns
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 23:09
It is highly likely that Brett Favre will never take a snap in a meaningful game again. It is also probable that rapper Lil Wayne, fresh off a mix-tape that I could have dropped better lines on, may in fact be done for good as well.
Time and time again, we fans must sadly come to the realization that some comebacks simply do not work out. There are exceptions, of course. After shifting his focus from the hardwood to the baseball diamond, Michael Jordan went back to the game he owned and still put up gaudy numbers for the Washington Wizards. And what if Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton, an avid drug addict who was a couple hits or snorts away from death, decided to just fold his hand and hang up the cleats?
While the majority of attempts to make comebacks and return to prominence fail miserably, there is one annual return that is met with as much anticipation as anything else in sports: the return of the NFL season.
Quite frankly, I am tired of hearing about Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg and whether or not he will be allowed to pitch in the playoffs. I am sick of having to check out a NASCAR race or a high school football game whenever I turn on the television. And, for the love of Timothy Tebow, I cannot live in a world in which the hottest sports news of the day involves who Kelly Ripa’s new co-host is (You know I love you though, Strahan).
The Dallas Cowboys take on the Super Bowl champion New York Giants tonight to get the NFL season started with a bang. If there is anything I love in this world more than Kim Kardashian and Philly cheese steaks, it’s the rivalry between my beloved Giants and those sorry dudes from Texas.
In honor of the opener, I found it necessary to preview the return of professional football by recalling what I missed most about the league during the long offseason, as well as what I still might be yearning for in a couple of weeks. Before Rex Ryan makes any more farfetched promises about the Jets that are sure to be unfulfilled, let’s get started. People, the NFL is back!
WHAT I MISSED MOST
FANTASY FOOTBALL: Widely regarded as the greatest fantasy football general manager to ever sign into a Yahoo! draft, the emails and texts are still pouring in congratulating me on taking flyers on Calvin Johnson, Eli Manning, and Marshawn Lynch last year en route to a league championship. There is no better feeling than when CBS or Fox cuts to a “game break” on Sundays and shows your seventh round sleeper high-stepping it into the end zone. Actually, maybe there is a better feeling: being able to talk smack to all your boys because Adrian Peterson is on your bench right now.
THE NEW YORK JETS: I already professed my love for the Giants above, so why do I list the Jets as something I missed most about the NFL? It’s because they make the New York Knicks look like the 1992 Dream Team. I could probably crack their quarterback depth chart and their No. 2 wide receiver caught just 28 balls last year in college. The Jets should strongly consider getting out of their big brother’s shadow and build a stadium on Broadway. After all, these guys represent both a tragedy and a comedy. And I love it.
TOUCHDOWN CELEBRATIONS: With the offseason depriving me of seeing Victor Cruz dance in the end zone, I often found myself doing the salsa this summer whenever I was home alone. In my opinion, however, the best celebration in the NFL is that of Jimmy Graham, who takes the rock and dunks it over the goalpost whenever he finds pay dirt. The former Miami Hurricanes forward has promised a through-the-legs slam in the coming weeks.
WHAT I MAY STILL BE MISSING IN A FEW WEEKS
LEGITIMATE REFEREES: It was all fun and games in the preseason, and it was actually quite humorous to see the replacement officials calling penalties on guys sitting on the sidelines or, in the case of some, not even being able to turn the right way to speak into the camera. Then, kind of like Matt Leinart, the refs kept getting worse and worse. Now, here we are a few hours before kickoff, and we must deal with the reality that the NFL season is about to start with B-team zebras. We need to get the good old flag-throwers back, and fast.
NFL NETWORK: I adore my two dogs, Mom’s homemade cooking, and real pizza. That being said, the main thing I miss while being away at college may be NFL Network. Stuck with glorious “Huskyvision” instead of Verizon Fios, I have no other choice but to tune into the Yankees, golf or even the Speed Network on Thursday nights this year. Unless I can somehow convince UConn that the NFL is more important than a daily dose of Nick Swisher or the Daytona 500, I will be missing primetime matchups like Bears-Packers (week 2), Giants-Panthers (week 3) and Bengals-Eagles (week 15).
CHAD JOHNSON/CHAD OCHOCINCO/ZINEDINE ZIDANE: Whatever his name is these days, this guy is one of my favorite personalities in all of sports. Chad may run his mouth as much as he tweets, and I lost a lot of respect for him for what he did to his beautiful wife, but knowing he will probably be sitting on the couch this fall alone almost brings a tear to my eye. Plus, he’s right up there with Tony Soprano and Turtle in the HBO Hall of Fame for stealing the show on not one, but two Hard Knocks seasons.