I don’t call myself a mainstream sports columnist—except on my résumé.
While I certainly fit the bill as aspiring, amateurish, and nonobjective, no one will ever mistake me for Peter King, Bill Simmons, or Rick Reilly.
Those guys have clout. And experience. And interns who do most of their research for them.
All I have is Yahoo! Sports on my cell phone.
Of course, I could sound like one of those guys if I wanted to. The styles of great sportswriters are easily mimicked, which is how Floyd Reese got his own column.
To get famous, I could resort to anecdotes, name-dropping, news-breaking, or—Stephen A. Smith’s personal favorite—the CAPS lock.
But I have my own shtick.
I don’t tell anecdotes unless they're about me. I don’t drop names because I don’t know anyone famous. I don’t break news stories because I sleep most of the day. And I don’t use CAPS lock because I spilled orange juice on my computer.
What’s left is a muddle of sports jargon that meanders and wanders, slowly imposing its central message into your brain by osmosis.
Hopefully, you've had the pleasure (Ed’s note: "pleasure" may be too strong of a word) of reading my NFL-2007_NFC_Predictions-310807">NFC and AFC preview articles—all 32 of them. Writing them has given me a greater understanding of the teams, the players, and my thesaurus, and I feel more prepared going into this season than ever before.
That said, I still know next to nothing.
The NFL is the crap-shoot to end all crap-shoots. There's no predicting who'll finish where, and the only way people get things right is by lucky guesses.
Actually, no, I'm not wrong about Pennington.
This randomness is one reason for my enormous crush on the NFL. It's what draws fans in, giving them all so much hope going into the season. I, for one, will be here all year, recapping, previewing, nitpicking, whining, and pretending that Patriot losses never happened.
There's no greater joy in life than football season—you can't dispute that. I may be wrong about the 49ers-Not_So_Fast_49ers_Alex_Smith_Primed_to_Disappoint-280707">49ers going 4-12, but I'm dead-on about how great football is.
Enjoy the season—and on to the predictions!
Breakout player: Miami RB Ronnie Brown.
Best Player Not Drafted to Your Fantasy Team: San Diego RB Darren Sproles.
MVP: Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer.
Defensive Player of the Year: Minnesota DT Kevin Williams.
Rookie of the Year: Oakland RB Michael Bush.
Breakout Trend: Annoying kicker celebrations—Mike Vanderjagt’s imprint on the league.
Surprise! (in a good way): Oakland.
Surprise! (in a bad way): Baltimore.
Roger Goodell’s Next Likely Suspension: The preseason—being on the schedule is a privilege, not a right.
Teams I Like: Eagles, Bears, Jags, Bengals.
Teams I Love: Patriots.
Teams I Don’t Like: Chiefs, Dolphins, Buccaneers, CBS pregame studio crew.
AFC Division Winners: Patriots, Bengals, Colts, Broncos.
AFC Wild Cards: Jaguars, Chargers.
NFC Division Winners: Eagles, Bears, Panthers, Rams.
NFC Wild Cards: Cowboys, Saints.
Super Bowl pick: My heart says Patriots. My mind says Patriots. My Sports Illustrated says Colts. Along with the rest of you, I stopped listening to Peter King years ago.
Go Patriots! Go heart!