Football isn’t back. At least not yet. It almost is. And that is a good thing for probably everyone reading this. Unless you’re a Houston Texans fan – in which case – welcome to a 49ers blog and also, sorry. You (Texans fan) can tell the person reading this to you to stop reading here.
While we try to make the draft, then OTAs, then training camp, then the Hall of Fame game, then the preseason all the markings of football being ‘back,’ it isn’t truly ‘back’ until the regular season begins. Now we’re just a week away from the first NFL Sunday of the year.
Congratulations. You’ve made it.
The air is going to get crisp again, and the only thing more prominent than pumpkin spice will be beer and soda and tortilla chip displays for your Sunday gatherings.
We live in a society (I did a meme. Please clap) where normalcy is becoming increasingly precious. The sense of a security provided by a daily or weekly routine is much more difficult to come by in the midst of … *gestures broadly at everything.*
Football season should give at least a brief respite from the chaos that presently reigns over us.
Last year football did its best to get the world back to ‘normal,’ but even the almighty NFL couldn’t overcome the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we saw opt-outs to start the year, and games on virtually every day of the week due to postponements and rescheduled games.
This year it looks to be (fingers crossed) on track for a more normal year. Granted, it’s 18 weeks now, but the familiar notes of the national pregame shows full of half-hearted analysis and forced laughter from former players and coaches, and ’60 Minutes’ coming up next except on the West Coast will all be there.
The NFL will look a little different too thanks in part to a strong rookie quarterback class that went five players deep. Tom Brady is firmly in his mid-40s now (Tom Brady was once teammates with a fella named Lee Johnson who was drafted during the Reagan administration), the Browns should be good (for realsies), Najee Harris is finally in the NFL (and as delightful as ever), and the NFC West could conceivably have four of the six best teams in the conference (except they won’t because Kliff Kingsbury is probably a bad coach).
This football season should not only feel more normal, it should be incredibly fun with the path to the Super Bowl wide open for a ton of teams (it’s probably more like seven or eight teams, but we’re in the business of irrational optimism here).
While we try hard to bring football season back early every year, it never really, truly begins until the regular season kicks off. We’re almost there. This is the last Sunday without football until the middle of February. Pat yourself on the back for getting here, and enjoy the hell out of the 2021 NFL season. You’ve earned it.
And Texans fan, if you’ve made it this far … none of this applies to you. Pack it up, cheer hard for the Astros and maybe try football again next year.
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