Every year I wait for it.
Around this time, I know it’s going to hit me. It always does.
When the summer is at the hottest in Texas, and when we are just coming out of the sports black hole known as July, it’s hard to miss the first signs of football season:
Walking into Dick’s Sporting Goods and seeing clean helmets, cleats and Under Armor in the newly organized football section.
Seeing football tryouts signs stuck into park fields all over town.
Fantasy football and season preview magazines falling off of racks in bookstores.
It’s simply the most wonderful time of the year, and there are many things that make it so. Here are my favorite things about being on the verge of another football season:
Local and national media are scouring every camp across the country held at no-name colleges in search of the next headline: which rookies are not in camp, who got injured, or which third-stringer is looking like a Pro Bowler. It’s not that I really care about these things, I just get jazzed knowing that they’re happing all over the country.
Yes, there are too many of them. And yes, it seems like they account for about 90 percent of NFL Network’s programming in August. But you know that scene in the movie Spaceballs when Dark Helmet orders the ship to bypass light speed and go straight to “ludicrous speed”? That’s what preseason games do for me — they act as a wormhole to the regular season. I know that if we can just get to the preseason games, then the real season is just around the corner.
You also get a glimpse of all the rookies — the ones that got their contracts settled in time, anyway. Sure, some will shine in the preseason against second and third-string players before disappearing into the regular season, but it’s still cool to see how these newcomers are fitting in with their teams. It’s also funny to watch football card collectors and their knee-jerk reactions towards rookies who have strong pre-seasons. eBay prices on key cards can practically jump instantly after a rookie has a couple of big touchdown runs.
Everyone Has an Opinion
“The Cowboys can’t win the East without T.O.”
“Steve Slayton will have a monster season.”
“LaDainian Tomlinson is done.”
There are so many experts at this time of year. We all do it. By January, though, half of what we knew in August never happened. It’s the nature of the fan. It’s part of the fun.
Fantasy Football Draft Prep
If we could get congress to analyze their own economic stimulus and healthcare bills as much as we analyze fantasy football, things could really get accomplished in this country.
It seems like there are more and more fantasy guides out every year. Having worked on Beckett/Rotoworld’s magazine in the past, I can confirm that they’re all pretty much the same, just with a few names moved up and down countless lists.
Even if you’re kind of tricking yourself, it’s still fun to prepare for the draft. Me? I like knowing my draft spot weeks in advance. How else am I supposed to waste hours with mock drafts, seeing who might be there in my spots?
Just don’t be the tool who shows up to your draft with a laptop, three or more fantasy guides, two highlighters, three different-colored pens and your own perfected master draft sheet.
Preseason College Polls and All-American Teams
The Coaches Poll is already out. The AP and Harris polls soon will be, along with many others that don’t really matter. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a fan of how preseason college polls put some teams on the fast track to the national title, and chain bowling balls to the feet of other teams. But they’re great talking points.
Plus, these early polls create the backdrop of some exciting early-season match-ups. Almost as if there are mini-playoffs taking place in September.
Madden NFL and NCAA Football Video Game Releases
Like most 20 and 30-year-olds, I grew up playing video games; everything from the Atari 2600 to the PlayStation 3. And I’ve played sports games more than any other kind. It’s really cool to see the Madden and NCAA titles signal an unofficial start to football season.
The new games aren’t all that different from the past years, but they provide a virtual gate to the new season. I just like seeing the window ads in stores and the commercials on TV. I can’t help but stop and give a little nod every time I see them.
So, what are your favorite signs that football season is here? It’s OK — you can share with us. You’re among friends here.
David Lee is a Dallas-based writer, and the former editor of Beckett Football and Beckett Basketball. To see more of his work, visit his website at www.MrWriteMedia.com.