The NFL: "What Have You Done For Me Lately?"

Tom DeRiggiContributor IIOctober 15, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 20:  Jeff Fisher the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans is pictured during the NFL game against the Houston Texans at LP Field on September 20, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Texans won 34-31.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

"There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now."—James A. Baldwin

Nothing quite like starting a sports column with inspirational words.

So often in sports, and more so now than ever, we tend to remember the current and ignore the past. If you presented this theory to a history professor or a history major, they'd laugh in your face and say that is the worst way to predict what can possibly happen in the future.

Over the past 230 years that this country has been a country, one trend has been consistent that we can base our future projections on: History always repeats itself.

So why, in this day and age, do we always focus on the "What have you done for me lately?" rather than looking into the past to get more accurate results? If our history is our best educator, then why is everyone so hung up on what happens that day?

Myself, along with nearly everyone in the sporting world, is a victim of this disease. In the four major sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL), we base our thoughts about a particular player or particular team on what they have done recently.

This has never been more prevalent than this year's NFL season.

It starts with the media. We all love to see what the media has to say about every team week in and week out, and we're supposed to believe what they tell us because they are the "experts."

I, for one, fall prey to this every week. For some reason, we're all addicted to what they have to say. The problem is that 90 percent of the analysts and media outlets focus on what happened in the past week. I know I harp about the Cowboys week in and week out, but they are the perfect example.

Heading into the season, Tony Romo was supposed to be a top-five quarterback in the league and he sure looked like it after Week One. Then, the Cowboys went into Week Two and laid an egg in Jerry's new stadium. After that game, Romo went from being the fifth or sixth best quarterback in the NFL down to a middle-of-the-pack quarterback, and the Cowboys' season was finished because he could never win the big game.

After a win the next week, they faced an undefeated Denver team and, once again, Romo decided to lay another egg. He threw an interception and missing throws all game.

The point I'm trying to make is that nearly every one of the athletes across the league is under a "What have you done for me lately?" microscope.

Carson Palmer was an elite quarterback before his injury. So when he came back, everyone was saying that he would just be average and he lost his ability to be a great quarterback. His team is 4-1.

Now, everyone is judging Tom Brady, saying that he has lost some ability to play quarterback. Well, the man sat out an ENTIRE YEAR of football! Why are we so quick to judge what he's done after five weeks?

Palmer has come back from a similar injury and is now playing at an elite level. So why do we think Brady won't do that, as well?

This epidemic is league-wide. People are now beginning to question whether or not Jeff Fisher is a good coach in Tennessee. The media outlets and bloggers are critiquing him and saying that his job may be in jeopardy because his team is 0-5. So, because his team is having a rough stretch, you fire a coach who's led his franchise to the playoffs six out of the past 10 seasons?

Fantasy football has made this epidemic grow even more rapid over the past years.

This year, players like Matt Forte, Clinton Portis, Tony Romo, and DeAngelo Williams are being scrutinized by everyone who owns them, saying that they've lost a step. I guarantee you that the three running backs mentioned will all have 1,000 yards and Romo will still finish with 30 TDs and 3,000 yards.

Those are all solid fantasy numbers, right? Maybe it's time for us to focus on what our past will tell us and give these athletes time to perform.

But, this is how our society is. We're prisoners of the moment. We're captured by the now.

We're in a world of real-time updates and ridiculous news reports about completely irrelevant topics (See: Favre, Brett), in a world of Twitter and Facebook, in a world of iPhone applications and Blackberry updates, and in a world of fantasy football fans do not miss a beat.

There is no cure for this epidemic—it has to start with ourselves. Maybe we should look into the past for more accurate answers as to what is going to endure in the future. But, for now, we're going to be living in that "What have you done for me lately?" mindset.