Yup, I said it. I just made a bold prediction. Call me crazy, or call me RIGHT, but today marks the opening day of the National Football League season, and this day every year may just be the best day of the year. Yes, you heard me correct. It is better than Christmas! Better than the Fourth of July! Better than Easter (sorry all of you sweet tooths) and even better than opening day of Coachella. (sorry all of you Molly fans) Opening day of the NFL starts a five month courtship of intrigue, drama, joy, tears, confusion, frustration, and jubilation. In other words it is like your best and worst relationship at the same time. It is 17 weeks of intensity. Every game counts. Every play is important. Every week is monumental. This is why we live for Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays, because they are OUR days. As true fans of the best American sport, we find ourselves invested in our teams. We consider them family. We defend them to a fault. It’s a weird almost surreal connection that we have with these organizations. Consider it a total takeover of mind, body, and not really spirit, but you get the point. On this day 32 teams start with a dream. However, throughout the treacherous grind, the blood, sweat, and tears, trips to the IR, countless soundbites and press conferences, there can only be one winner. What is more dramatic than that?
The NFL is the most successful sport in America. The NFL generates more revenue than the NBA, MLB, and NHL. ESPN might as well be the NFL Network with the amount of football coverage that they slam down our throats but can you really blame them? What else is there really to talk about? No disrespect to MLB or the NBA (which I love dearly) but there are way too many games in those sports. 17 seems about the perfect number, because each week is so important. The NFL has done a tremendous job in providing access to its fans over various forms of media. The NFL Network provides 24/7 coverage on the sport from analysis to behind the scenes team reports, player updates, interviews, and perspective. The NFL has a partnership with HBO to develop the Hard Knocks series, which provides an in-depth, uncensored look at an NFL team’s training camp. There are countless websites devoted to covering football. Many NFL players have Twitter and Facebook accounts and interact directly with fans on a daily basis. Direct TV has a contract with the NFL to show every NFL game on satellite TV, so now you can watch your favorite team from wherever you are. Cable companies work with the NFL to produce the NFL Red Zone, which is a channel that shows all scoring plays when they happen live, keeping the viewer primed into all of the action that is taking place.
And then there is this little thing called Fantasy Football. I’m not sure if you heard about it or not, but it’s pretty damn cool. Fantasy Football is a game that gets the viewer or the fan within the game. Players get to draft a team (of NFL players) that they follow throughout the season. Their success is determined by how well those NFL players actually perform in games on a weekly basis. Fantasy Football alone is played by millions and has made the everyday Joe, who may have not been interested in football, a fan of the game. Head out to your local sports bar on a Sunday and it’s filled with all different types of people, all shapes, sizes, colors, and sexes, wearing NFL paraphernalia supporting their teams. The local water cooler in your offices on Mondays will usually include some sort of chatter about what happened on Sunday. The NFL does a fantastic job finding ways to bring people together.
The NFL produces stars. We all love to support people who perform well at things that we love. Whether it’s musicians, actors, actresses, politicians, or athletes, we have an affinity to root for and become connected to people who we admire. The NFL has done a great job in providing public access to our favorite NFL stars. Whether that comes in the form of commercials, sports endorsements, late night or daily talk show appearances, magazine covers, and even guest spots on sitcoms and dramas, NFL stars are everywhere. Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, and countless others, have all become household names thanks to the exposure that the NFL provides. Tonight, this all returns. Tonight, we get our first chance to get excited again. Tonight, we all are little kids, because this is our Christmas. And tonight, we are blessed with an amazing rematch of one of the best playoff games of last season. The defending champion Baltimore Ravens travel to Denver to face year two of the Payton Manning experiment with the Broncos. There will be fireworks. There will be a big rock concert. The game is live on primetime. And this game will post HUMONGOUS ratings. The reason simply is because the NFL is the best sport in the world, and tonight, the first game of the 2013 season is the real must see tv. Like the great T.O. once proudly said…”Get yo popcorn ready.” FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!!