As soon as the Super Bowl is over (and for fans of certain nameless teams based in cities that look south to see Canada, MUCH earlier than that), football fans immediately turn their attention to the NFL Draft.
They learn the draft order. They learn the top prospects' names. They hear about 40 times, pro days, and wonderlic tests. They debate on sites like Bleacher Report who their favorite teams should take.
And now, the 2009 edition of the draft is only three days away. The focus of the draft, of course, is to select new players, but there's so much about the event that makes it as anticipated as the NFL's opening weekend.
The draft means something different for each of the NFL's 32 franchises. For Detroit, this draft represents the beginning of a new, hopefully more successful era after the most putrid season in NFL history.
For New England and Pittsburgh, it's another chance to bolster an already stellar roster. Other teams like Green Bay and Houston are looking for the last few parts to make themselves championship contenders.
Something else that happens just about every year is that one of the top projected picks in the draft doesn't get picked up as early as expected. Guys like Brady Quinn and Aaron Rodgers get passed on early, and they're stuck waiting for the commissioner to call their name.
It's moments like these, when a player is first faced with NFL adversity, in which fans can get a first glimpse of how a player handles it.
All of that is only three days away, the true beginning of the next NFL season. A weekend for fans to applaud or criticize their team's decision makers. One step closer to the first regular season game of 2009.
It can't get here fast enough.