It's my birthday, and since I have time at work, I'm going to gift myself with writing an honest "What I'm Looking Forward To" and "What I'm Not Looking Forward To" summary in regards to this upcoming NFL Season.
What I'm looking forward to
1. Watching football games that matter.
I cannot wait until a full-length game that matters is played. With preseason, I watch for all of 20 minutes, and then I go back to reading a book.
During the regular season, I'm on the edge of my seat, I'm jumping up and down, I'm screaming and pointing at the screen, I'm praying to God, I'm begging to God, I'm pacing up and down, I'm swearing at the other team, I'm swearing at my team for a stupid mistake, I'm waving my Terrible Towel and cheering as if my team can actually hear me.
It can be the most entertaining, dynamic, and alive four hours in a week, and I CANNOT WAIT until it's back.
2. Smashing the Ravens again.
Yeah, I said it. It's going to happen, too.
3. I would say smashing the Bengels and Browns, but they just seem so sad to me, that gloating about it is like ruining a little kid's sand castle. So instead, I'll say I'm looking forward to playing the Titans in the season opener.
Now, that game is going to rock. And it's going to answer all sorts of pertinent questions:
Is Big Ben Focused?
Is the Steeler-D as dominant as last year?
Are the Titans still hungry from last year?
Will Nate Washington be recovered by then?
How well does Parker run it?
How many different petulant looks can we spot on Vince Young?
What hairstyle will Jeff Reed be sporting?
4. The Steelers making a serious go at another deep postseason run.
And that's all my superstitious-self is going to say about that.
5. Seeing how the Steelers are going to run the ball better this year.
It wasn't until postseason that it felt like we really got off the ground with the running attack—and maybe the drought caused by Willie Parker's injury makes it seem worse than it was, but my selective memory aside, I can't wait to see Parker go at it fully and start running over the other teams!
6. Watching Mike Tomlin continue to climb as one of the best coaches in the league.
Every time I hear Tomlin speak I just can't get over how solid, smart, sensible, clear-minded, clear-spoken, driven, determined, etc etc etc he is. I think I glow and giggle each time and do a little dance to the Football God who blessed us with him.
7. Seeing Hines Ward's smile every time he catches a ball or makes a block.
That man loves football and makes me love it as well.
Then seeing Wade Phillips cry and Jerry Jones rant and rave and then try to build a stadium on the moon because that will make his team better.
9. The "BOOM" I hear in my head every time the screen shows Ryan Clark or Troy Polamalu just laying out some player in their tracks.
I'm also going to hope we get a repeat of the play in last year's AFC Championship game against the Ravens when Polamalu jumped on top of the pile to stop Flacco from converting the fourth down.
10. I don't like Josh McDaniels. So what I'm looking forward to is how erratically and, most likely, how poorly his defensive line is going to play.
Just so I can sit back and feel self-congratulatory for my personal predictions of his idiocracy in regards to the defense (and offense) that I made back in the Spring.
11. Dick LeBeau's awesomeness and the Steeler Defense.
James Harrison's "I am the fastest brick wall you'll ever meet" interpretation of football.
Lawrence Timmons' emergence as a top starter.
James Farrior's utter command and direction of the defense. And his dominance at his position doesn't hurt either.
And not the least is our front three—big, strong, smart, and dominant.
12. Ignoring all personal issues, I can't wait to see Ben Roethlisberger's play on the field. I want to see if he's grown any; if he'll stop hanging onto the ball too long; if he still has is marvelous and fantastic ability to play in the clutch.
Preseason with Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon is all good and even reassuring, but I want to see my franchise quarterback play.
13. The text messages and phone calls I get throughout the game from my sister and father about whatever ridiculously awesome or annoying call or play that just happened.
It's how my family keeps in touch with each other during the winter.
14. And finally, one thing I am most looking forward to is seeing those black and gold jerseys fill the TV screen.
There's nothing else like it.
What I'm NOT Looking forward to
I can't help it, I just feel for McNabb. I mean, five NFC Championship games in nine seasons and the city went nuts last night when an ex-felon entered the field.
I mean, McNabb's got to have like 24-hour heartburn or something.
2. I hate to say it and I wanted to put "watching the Steelers' offensive line become as one being" into the "Looking Forward To" portion, but I can't.
With the training camp blips and bruises, all the weird penalties in the last couple of weeks, all the movement on the line, I just can't. So what I'm not looking forward to is the length of time it will take for them to jell. They finally came into in the postseason last year, but hopefully it will happen a little sooner this time around.
3. The injuries that you know will happen.
They always do and regardless of the team (except maybe the Patriots), I feel sympathetic towards the players. And I REALLY don't like it when they drive that cart onto the field. That's when the prayers stop going from "Please God let us just get this touchdown," to something far more serious.
4. Living in DC, I have some feelings toward the Redskins. So what I'm not looking forward to is how their owner is going to continue to treat football teams, players and coaches like static pieces of a puzzle that are interchangeable.
I don't know how Dan Snyder does not get accosted every where he goes by Redskins fans wanting to know when he'll stop treating the team like a fantasy football team and let them work and meld together.
And then there's Jason Campbell. I might not be over the moon about his abilities myself, but I can't help feeling bad for his situation.
5. That one game that the Steelers should have won and didn't.
Whether it deals with a team we "should" have beaten and didn't or if we have 6 turnovers in a half, that game is going to destroy my good mood for whichever week it happens in.
6. Not seeing footage of Mr. Rooney on the field or in the press box while I watch the games on TV.
You know he'll be there in spirit while he's in Ireland and seeing as how much he's pervaded everything Steelers so much so that it seems like he's sunk into the very cracks in the stadium, there's no way not to see 'Steelers' and not think 'Mr. Rooney'. But still, I'll miss him.
Yet while I will miss seeing him, I will look forward to the fact that everytime I think about my team, a little glow of contentment and assurance fills me—because even though he's an ocean away, he's placed this team on the most solid ground there is. And besides, he's still only a phone call or text message away from those who need him.
So bring on the season!