The more nothing changes, the more things stay the same. The NFL remains America's favorite pastime (sorry baseball), and to pass the time between seasons, experts and fans alike love to speculate about the new grand ol' game. Erroneous prognostication about who will win the Super Bowl, or whether anyone will sign Terrell Owens can be heard everywhere from ESPN to the bar stool on your left. There is much about the NFL that is reliable and moss covered, however, and as we enter the new season let us recognize that which does withstand the test of time and fluctuation:
Bret Favre will hold the NFL, Minnesota Vikings and the viewing public hostage deep into the preseason.
Death, taxes and the dead horse that is the Brett Favre retirement drama. Everyone knows Favre is going to play this year. Everyone knows Favre is not going to publicly commit to playing until some time in late August. Why then is it necessary to follow him daily with a camera crew? So, he bought a fishing pole last April, and regularly disrupts practice at Hattiesburg High School, but does any of this change the inevitable decision?
Peyton will continue to prove himself the better Manning.
Every year since Eli Manning was drafted by the dishonored San Diego Chargers, he has been inappropriately compared to his older, more talented brother. Perhaps as a result of the fan base of their respective teams, desperate attempts are made to put Eli and Peyton on the same pedestal, to no avail. But for a couple unbelievable catches by overwrought receivers in Super Bowl XLII, Eli woudln't enter into a conversation about his brother, and barely belongs with him in those regrettable Oreo commercials.
The St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks will play two head-to-head games that no one will watch.
The NFC West as a whole will have difficulty attracting attention. Long defined by inexperienced, unproven and unremarkable quarterbacking, this division wants for viewership to the degree that it lacks a Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Sam Bradford fits beautifully within the ranks of Matt Leinart, Alex Smith, Charlie Whitehurst and basically everyone this side of Kurt Warner, who, sadly for the West’s few remaining fans, has finally retired.
The Oakland Raiders will remain irrelevant.
If there is anything more tragic than the JaMarcus Russell led Oakland Raiders, it may be the 2010 Jason Campbell version. Campbell put up, shall we say, reasonable numbers for the Redskins, but that was for a team with vision, occasional hope, and at least a modicum of talent. But, Campbell was also sacked 109 times in the last four years, and that without a Robert Gallery sized hole in his offensive line.
The Raiders will begin the 2010 season with a loss in Tennessee, and things will go downhill from there.
The NFC East will be as overhyped as it is underwhelming.
Donovan McNabb moving from Philadelphia to Washington is intriguing. The continuing Albert Haynesworth saga is not unexpected. And we are all anxious to see who Tony Romo is dating this year. But, unless you are a fan of the Giants, Eagles, Cowboys or Redskins, you will again be left wondering what is so darn newsworthy of this lackluster division?
Yes, the Giants won a recent Super Bowl, and NFC East match ups are often well contested, but does a division with a decade-long losing record in the playoffs warrant two nationally televised games a week, and the daily lead story on Sports Center?
LaDanian Tomlinson will conduct himself with class, garnering no press or air time.
What is known about LaDanian the man? He is dedicated, hard working, soft spoken, and charitable. What is reported about LaDanian the football player? Almost nothing.
As an accomplished athlete that has managed to keep himself out of legal trouble, this LT makes very few headlines. A recent obsession to beat him up for his lack of performance in the playoffs has developed. Such treatment is both unfortunate and unfair, and hard to justify applied to a man who wants, and would take the ball on every play.
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