From the day the NFL football season ends until the day training camp starts up again beneath the umbrella of optimism and fan excitement has to be the longest and darkest stretch on the calendar. Minutes grew into painful days of waiting, and those days blossom into agonizing weeks longing for pigskin.
It’s time to begin scheduling events and activities around Sunday afternoons in September. The priorities change significantly when the season starts up. “You are having a birthday party at 2 pm on a Sunday? At Chucky Cheese? Oh…did I tell you I’m suffering from Rocky Mountain spotted fever?”
It’s time to start working on good excuses why the “honey do” list cannot be attacked with anything more than cursory attention on the Sundays of autumn. Time to develop chronic lower back pain that forces you to the couch for long stretches of time, but only on Sunday afternoons. You know, to stretch out and let your back heal. If watching football accompanies that…who can argue?
It’s time to start formulating a comprehensive menu that will span more than sixteen weeks – everything from crock pot chili to increasingly flammable types of hot wings. And time to stock up on the Tums when the ever aggressive recipe modifications create Vesuvius-style paybacks the next morning.
It’s time to start worrying about our team. Heck, I’m already there. Everything looks great on paper, but we are one catastrophic injury away from putting ourselves back on the path towards a bleeding ulcer. Who will be the player who steps up and makes a name for himself when a trusted veteran goes on the shelf?
Later this week, 32 teams will begin congregating to kick off a 2006 season that they hope will stretch for more than just four pre-season games and 16 regular season contests. Well, maybe 32 is an overstatement; I’m not sure if teams like the 49ers, Packers, Titans, Raiders, Bills and Jets are harboring any delusions of grandeur.
It’s time to start stockpiling pithy comebacks and witty retorts for when you run into opposing team’s fans and the smack volley commences. It’s time to get ready to remind still befuddled Rams fans that the Seahawks swept them last season. Touché. And it’s time to request that another team from the NFC West try to finish within seven games of the division leader this season – unlike 2005. Ping! And what’s up with all the hullabaloo over the Cardinals again? Wake me when they have an offensive line.
It’s time to wonder just what kind of production rookies are going to bring to the table. There are a lot of top-round picks being counted on for near instantaneous help, but not all of those trees will bear ripened fruit.
This is truly a special time of year. As fast as the season seems to fly by, the time is now to absorb the endless previews, predictions, roster fluctuations and the like. Time to get all the open debate and analysis out of your system and to make yourself look smart by predicting final standings, playoff seedings, and if you truly are feeling your salt – why not predicting the Super Bowl XLI match-up this coming February in Miami?
It’s time to break out all the team gear – jerseys, hats, banners, ceremonial totem poles, lunch boxes – you name it.
It’s time to start speculating which positional battles will be the most intriguing, the daily combat played out under the scorching summer sun. Many veterans will be looking over their shoulder pads at eager rookies or fringe players pushing them for the few critical open roster spots.
For Seahawks fans, won’t it be nice to finally get another game played under the belt, after carrying the weight of falling just short in the Super Bowl. Even the first pre-season game against the Dallas Cowboys marks a hallmark event, for at least then we can say “the most recent game wasn’t that painful Super Bowl.”
Soon enough, Sundays will become a smorgasbord of football. The pre-game shows, the first batch of games, the afternoon games, the wrap-up shows and into the Sunday night game of the week. Marriages will be tested and friendships challenged. Emotions will be plucked like the strings in a world class symphony. Couches will be pounded, remote controls flight tested, and blood pressures will elevate like to dangerous levels.
But remember, it’s just a game.
It’s time. Finally.
Greg Renick writes regularly for Seahawks.NET. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.