As the anticipation grows and we slowly move to the edge of our seats, we wistfully recall the season known for football. Where the gridiron is filled with not only players—but with the hopes and dreams of the fans who love them.
The fan experience for football may have some related cross-over in other sports, but the experience of the football fan is unique in and of it's own.
Those zainy characters which are only useful for shooting t-shirts into the stands. Good excuse to bring the kids for some male bonding time.
Fall enters and foliage in most NFL cities begins to turn to unique pastel colors. The air hints with a refreshing chill as the old growth of the past is shed in the place of redemption and starting over. So too, a new season is born and starts anew during the fall.
Preseason is a preview which shows nothing. A showcase of fodder and favorites maraud on the field. Most just hope that the players on their team do not suffer a serious, season-impacting, injury—the same hope cannot be said for an opponent...
Remember that we are focusing on football here... Yet, nice distractions are available for fans to get warmed up to the action.
Love or hate the bozos that show up half (or fully) naked, painted head to toe, or with interesting ensembles, these entertainers show their love for the game through whatever means possible.
The Captain of Clean, Mr. Sheriff, Roger Goodell returns to keep the players on the field and out of trouble outside of locker room (though a player can be fined, suspended, or otherwise for what they do in the locker room as well.)
While some other sports (eh hem, NBA) have given lackluster efforts (or been crippled by self-serving player's unions, Goodell has cleaned up the NFL's act. Expect more cleaning this season.
Fans do not generally miss this aspect of the season, but like Howard Stern, the shock value alone garners much interest.
NFL players have managed to enfuriate all arenas equitably. Consider the following offenses:
1. DUI - Alcohol
2. DUI - Drugs
3. Possession of Drugs
4. Carrying a concealed firearm
5. Discharging a concealed firearm (into the shooter's own leg!)
6. Bar Fights
7. Alleged Rapes
...and the list goes on....
Some are creating a second career which will carry them forward into a new successful realm. Others seem to have personality flaws that have disabled them from being as noticed on the field as they are off of it. Reform is the key and the key to reform is to mix in some humility.
Nothing says I love (or am obssessed with) you to your favorite team and players than to don the jersey of the team in question with the player's name stenciled across the back. This one item alone separates the casual fan from the weekend, in season, band wagon traveler.
Be it a bar, backyard, stadium parking lot, or any other venue, football Sunday is the day where fans gather to exchange food, drink, receipes, and opinions on who is going to succeed where others have failed (as well as who has already failed). Theories abound from the proto-typical fan as they sink deeper and deeper into juicy strips of sirloin and some cold beers.
Nothing gets a fan pumped more than when the theme music of triumph comes on prior to a game, documentary, presentation, or the like. The NFL is fillled with bone trembling, euphoria which accompanies the climaxing sounds of the NFL.
The voice which (in most part as the successors have shared similar tones) brings the grave, gravelly commander of lordly oversight to the weekly recaps, and highlight films. Like a general on a mountain, the voices of John Facenda, Harry Kalas, and Scott Graham bring the baritone depths of a pitched battle on the field of war.
An ensemble of NFL personalities and media-types converge to bring the newest revenue generating idea: NFL Network. All professional football, all the time. The presentation is cutting edge, modern, and keeps a fan involved from head to toe.
The NFL Network continues to grow and dominate as another revenue arm for the NFL. Yet, watching this group of talented former players, coaches, and field personalities (among several generally good sports journalists). The coverage is thorough, modern, and media driven. It is another source of in-depth information in the pursuit of full knowledge of the league.
Making the NFL bigger than life and being truly positive influences within society in general has allowed various NFL personalities to show a deeper side. Be it a clean record, a little bit of Hollywood, or serving in the military for their country, players all over the NFL have distinguished themselves as positive role models and citizens which every American can learn from.
They served with distinction both on and off the field. For the most part, their contribution was revolutionary and brought a by-product of good will to the NFL. Be it serving their country, contributing to Hollywood, or simply leading by example, these individuals have redeemed the word role model in many areas.
Want to really get into the season and live as a pseudo-coach or owner? Fantasy football is one of the premier national sports which involves little or no physical effort.
Simply organize a league, collect some money, and whoever are the top "teams" gets a share of the prize. You will know more about the NFL than most people know about their extended families by the time the season ends.
With countless points of information regarding NFL teams, players, and coaches (along with other personalities), the NFL is never left behind in the obsessive review and theory producing machine that is called society.
There is always a player the fan looks forward to seeing and contributing just as there is the player they hate with the venom of a viper. Teams are one thing, players are another to these finite evaluators of talent (as we all do).
Living vicariously through your favorite team and player allows the rabid fan to understand contracts, statistics, and psychology in one. The favorite is the one on whose shoulder's (in most people's minds) the season is won or lost. Agony is when that player goes down to injury, but pride is to be had when they are successful.
Nothing says hello to the opponent quite like a concussion inducing blow to the opponent who so foolishly challenges the heart of the defense. Being on the delivery end is certainly much more satisfying as it is painful for the receiver.
Moving the opponent backwards is the goal and nothing does this better than the charging bull from the defensive side of the field with earth-shattering thunder. After the thud, there lays the leader, while the momentum has begun to shift.
The hit delivered, the swinging arm lashes out, or the defense cuts off the route. What results is the culmination of excellent defensive execution is the ball in their hands running through the open field on the way to the promised land of points—the end zone.
With anger, hate, and pride mixed together, archenemies do battle to claim the spot higher on the mountain of success. Teams that have this special affection in their relationship, quickly find that playing anything less than 110% will get them nowhere but towards the bottom of the heap.
The smell of barbecue, beer, and shots of merchandise sellers (and scalpers) fill the air as game day arrives to much fanfare. To those teams that start on the road with the first game, the next game at home serves as the time when the welcome mat is rolled out for the team to be inspired throughout the season.
The tough 17-week grind commences in earnest which only a limited number of teams moving forward. It is a touch commitment to success and sorrow. Players will be injured, turnovers will happen, but the dream is that touchdowns will be scored, and victory had.
Will the weak weeded out, the final six teams from each conference enter the final arenas of an extended, single-elimination post-season. There is no room for error as these teams know that there may be no tomorrow.
It all comes down to this—the Lombardi Trophy. Only one team will emerge the champion from one of the most popular sporting events worldwide. The culmination of a fans perfect season is vicariously achieving this award through their team.