NFL Kickoff 2012: Counting Down the Waning Hours of Universal Optimism

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NFL Kickoff 2012: Counting Down the Waning Hours of Universal Optimism
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The wait is nearly over. It has been seven long months since we watched the New York Giants claim their crown and the focus has now shifted to the 2012-13 season.

It is indeed fascinating to think that at this time last year, fans were desperately praying that their team would make a run, earning a Super Bowl trophy as if it were going to be the last opportunity for them to earn one; and even this early, the Giants fan who boasts about the accomplishment may already be accused of living in the past.

It is a beautiful facet of sport. There is one goal, there is one drive, but there is always a new day. What every other NFL team did last season will be forgotten in time and even the Super Bowl matchup and statistics will be relegated to the back of trivia cards. 

But there is one fan base that will never forget who won the season’s prize. Giants fans will remember where they watched the game, who they watched it with and the pride they felt in watching the Lombardi trophy being marched toward their players, while the rest of the league will move past it like a bad dream. 

We purchase tickets, don our favorite jerseys, go through pregame rituals, watch televised coverage and pack sports bars year after year for the exact same reason…we want our team to reward such loyalty with an epic Super Bowl run.

There are few phenomena as divisive as that of sports, which is what makes this time so compelling for the devoted NFL fan. We are all divided, many in some of the bitterest rivalries ever to exist, but at this moment we are all simultaneously united in a twisted combination of optimism, pragmatism, devotion and doubt. 

It is in this moment that we all share a perspective. Every fan base can claim nothing more than the players on their roster and a 0-0 record. Along with this, every fan possesses, at least some level of respect, for the concept of “any given Sunday,” and therefore the belief that from this moment, anything can happen.

Leon Halip/Getty Images

It is true that analysts, writers and fans have already played out this season, accounting for schedules, depth charts, injury histories and offseason acquisitions in an attempt to accurately predict what we will see when the dust clears, but there is a poetry in examining the field in the moments before the dust is stirred. 

For the next few hours, the pieces on the chessboard will remain stationary and we will be left with the final opportunities to ponder the infinite possibilities of the new season. 

After the Cowboys and Giants kickoff hope and expectation will give way to wins, losses and the stats behind them. We will gain a fuller perspective of what will be as opposed to what could be and only one fan base of 32 will get the opportunity to revel in a Super Bowl run. 

Between now and then, there will be 21 weeks of drama, violence, controversy and action to remind us why the games are played at all.  Friendships will be renewed, families will bond, rivalries will be reinforced and the football gods will field offers for souls in exchange for football victories.

So as we prepare for the inception of another amazing NFL season, here is to the moments before the moments, the players and teams we are loyal to, the family and friends with whom we will share these weeks and the optimism and promise that is brought with this new season.

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