by Ryan Meehan
We’re just a little over seven weeks away from the beginning of the 2014-2015 NFL season, and I sincerely hope those seven weeks fly by. Let’s face it, this is the down time for the sports world. While the remainder of February and the entirety of March seem like they drag on forever, believe it or not July and the first half of August are even worse for sportswriters. So we’re going to go Deep Six on this one and explain why every one of these factors make the time leading up to the NFL season seem absolutely torturous.
1. The World Cup is now over
As fun as the activity is, I’m not going to bash soccer here. It’s simply too easy, and it’s also important to remember that during the World Cup it wasn’t soccer that we were focused on. I’m not going to sit here and act like we were all pro-soccer, because that’s not why we watched it. The truth is, anything where we can all get in a room and collectively root for the country is going to create interest in the sport. Whether it’s soccer, sailing, or bombing the shit out of whichever Middle Eastern country just recently struck a supply of black gold…We’re in front of our televisions acting like we’ve been in favor of everything the United States has ever done.
The World Cup was a great example of this. Regardless of what you might say about the ratings going up, and soccer making a breakthrough in this country because were able to tie a team we should have beaten without question before throwing the game away, the second we were eliminated from that tournament – interest had disappeared. When it became impossible for us to win the whole thing, the next thing you know we were searching desperately for an update on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback situation. It was that bad. The point here is that it was patriotism that we were rooting for, not soccer. In the NFL, all of the teams are American so it’s pretty clear we’re rooting for the franchises themselves.
2. The offseason NBA trade fiasco is just plain depressing
If there’s one thing I can guarantee you American sports fans aren’t a fan of based on previous experience, it would be wondering and worrying where LeBron James is going to end up. And with Carmelo Anthony’s whereabouts becoming less of a national concern with every passing year, it’s easy how you can see that the NBA offseason has made us want to go Elliot Smith on our wrists.
Professional basketball is becoming this egomaniacally obsessed organization of very few players that seem to think they deserve to control every aspect of whichever teams they are headed to. It’s been going on for years, but it’s worse now than ever and this year’s offseason has been the pinnacle of prickery. With an NFL team, you can’t really form a “Super squad” like the Miami Heat did because the salary cap doesn’t allow for that many pre-madonnas to be on one team. The result? Basketball this year is going to be more boring than ever.
3. Baseball is Baseball
Regardless of your passion for America’s past time, it’s no secret that baseball’s popularity has declined substantially over the past five years. So when it’s the only remaining of the four major American sports left on TV, it somehow seems even slower than it usually does. Which is saying a lot, seeing as how lately baseball moves at a dastardly slow pace. That’s why they have to have dollar beer night at some of these stadiums, because otherwise the patrons would fall asleep or die of boredom. And when your fate is between a rock and a hard place and you’re hoping for a narcolepsy diagnosis, it’s not hard to see why the Arizona Diamondbacks are having a hard time selling tickets.
While football moves at the speed of light and is full of nonstop action, baseball moves at a speed somewhere between tortoise sodomy and Southern literacy. It just doesn’t compare. And while the NBA is virtually unwatchable until the postseason, the MLB is even more so because the season is twice as long. And to tell you the truth, by the time it finally does drag that Ford EXP of a sport into the sports landscape junkyard most people don’t want to hear about baseball anymore. This is why you still hear multiple arguments about the season being shortened to 140 games. You know shit’s bad when you consider watching the WNBA because there’s “nothing” else on the tube.
4. Hockey was amazing this past year
This is a weird one, because the NHL had an awesome year this year. You had two major markets in the Stanley Cup, and Sidney Crosby was fucking nowhere in sight. In other words, you had something that the fans who were just now getting excited about hockey could love, as well as something hockey purists could get behind. By the time the Rangers had won the Eastern Conference and were waiting to see which team from the West would light them up like a charcoal grill, the three markets that were left in the running for sports’ most coveted prize were Chicago, Los Angeles, and of course…The Big Apple itself. You can’t ask for a better scenario than that for a game finally breaking through and making serious progress in the American mainstream sports world. Hell, Commissioner Gary Bettman couldn’t have set that up any better if he actually gave a shit about the league or its players. The referees in David Stern’s secret game-fixing email group were probably even impressed by the way the the NHL season ended.
But unlike baseball, this created a huge drop in the supply of good sports as it was ending around the same time the NBA Finals were ending. So we were already reeling from the disappointment of a sad Super Bowl and five straight months with no NFL (I’ll get to that in a minute) when immediately we were slapped in the face by this great NHL postseason coming to end and the biggest attention whore in pro basketball losing to the most boring sports dynasty in recorded history. Talk about poor timing.
5. The last NFL game aired was a complete bust and this made for a long summer
Let’s face it, the Super Bowl sucked. Even though the Seahawks put on one of the most brutal postseason defensive performances ever, after a two week wait the game itself was a major disappointment. It was reminiscent of a time when a guy like Joe Montana would drop 55 on some hapless Broncos team that snuck its way past the rest of a weak AFC – a time when a lot of Super Bowls were a total blowout. Super Bowl 48 was essentially over the second that ball was snapped past Peyton Manning and went in the end zone, and everyone who was a hardcore NFL fan knew it.
Of course, the byproduct of that sorry ass game was that it left us with a bitter taste in our mouth that will last all the way until the first week of September. It was our last memory of what was essentially an awesome season, and a great month of playoff football. Since we’re Americans, we always want more than we’ve paid for (even if it’s essentially free) so in a way we felt cheated. It sounds ridiculous, but imagine being the guy who hosts the Super Bowl party and having everyone leave as soon as the first kickoff of the second half gets returned for a touchdown. Kind of hard to blame them when the team that was favored still doesn’t have any points and is down by almost 30 with twenty-nine and a half minutes left.
6. The offseason once again reminds us that the NFL is King
I had a friend of mine not too long ago tell me that he didn’t watch any of the 2013 season because he was so into soccer. And that’s fine, but when I told him that wasn’t the way the rest of the country felt he disagreed with me. He’s dead wrong, and the numbers don’t lie. The ratings were once again higher than they had been in any previous year, proving once and for all that the 22 weeks in which the NFL season is on television is dominated by National Football League coverage. Ever notice how the World Series never ends on a Sunday? Do you know why? It’s so the people at ABC/Disney don’t have to make the decision on which story to run first on Sportscenter. They know that the World Series might be the bigger story since it’s the end of the season, but people are tuning into that show to watch NFL highlights. I’ll argue anybody into the ground that any producer in his right mind would choose the NFL over baseball any day of the week.
Which is precisely why you won’t see a “Deep Six” article about waiting for any other sport to get here. All of the other sports just simply don’t have the power that the NFL does when it comes to controlling the airwaves. If for some reason the NFL wasn’t available in the United States, the drug cartels in Mexico would be vaccuum packaging it in garbage bags and sending it across the border like there actually was one. We are addicted to the National Football League, it’s king and there’s nothing that can stop it. Even with all of the concussion controversy, the NFL remains the most impenetrable brick in the wall that is American sport. And let’s face it when it isn’t on our televisions, that fact depresses us.
And that’s really what it comes down to…All of these things add up to this feeling of emptiness that we have when the NFL isn’t readily available. Add that to the fact that Autumn is most people’s favorite season, and it makes for a depressing summer. I’m 34 and I’ve still never watched a beach volleyball game in my life. This should tell you something.
When the NFL returns, there will be a feeling that all is back to normal. If you’re not a fan, it’s almost impossible to explain. While the rest of the entertainment world exists solely in the spaces between Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian’s somewhat unpredictable herpes outbreaks, football is a machine that never breaks it’s schedule. Shit, when 9/11 happened it only shut down for a week. That’s a pretty substantial return to glory when you consider that NFL games are held in stadiums that are all no-fly zones.
I can’t speak for Coach Ryan, but I can almost guarantee you that he’s feeling the same withdrawals that I am. We’ll be here all year long to cover the league we love, at no cost to you and at the expense of countless hours of typing on our part. Which is fine, because we’re obsessed with it. So here’s to the 2014-2015 NFL season being on its way, and it couldn’t get here any sooner.
No seriously, it couldn’t. I’m running out of former MADtv cast members for 7 questions.
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