As soon as the leaves start to turn and autumn ushers in a change of climate, football fills the minds of sports fans across the nation.
Weekend schedules adapt to the sport that has surpassed baseball as America's favorite past time.
Fridays are for high school contests, Saturdays are for college matchups and Sundays are for the NFL, as well as Mondays and even Thursdays now.
Football fever hits America like a hurricane, consuming the time and passion of its victims.
The World Series is over and soon forgotten. The NBA and NHL seasons begin, but hardly anyone is paying attention. The NFL is underway and all 32 teams have a shot at playing in the greatest spectacle in sports, the Super Bowl, come February.
Fans can't get enough of professional football. It's the tastiest morsel on Thanksgiving for some, a fire to keep warm through the winter and the one thing that can make life good again after a long Monday at work.
The MLB, NBA and NHL can't matchup with the National Football League.
Even baseball players admit viewing the sport can be like watching grass grow; a batter can be at the plate the entire time it takes me to clean my plate of a three-course meal.
On the other hand, the NFL is unpredictable—you may see something happen that has never occurred before in the 90 years of its existence.
In the MLB, you may see a grand slam, a diving catch, a triple play or even someone stealing home, but at the end of the day, you've seen it before.
The NBA's regular season is pointless for the elite teams, who wait 'till the spring rolls around to start playing their hardest.
In the NFL, every game counts. A team gets no second chances in the postseason—it's win or go home.
In the NBA, if you lose three straight games, you still have an outside shot at advancing to the next round. I'll give the MLB credit though for its All-Star game, at least it means something, unlike the Pro Bowl.
I'll also admit basketball may be as fun to watch because of its fast pace and talented athletes, but a slap on the arm stops the game.
As terrible as it sounds, people get excited by violence. A big hit, a ferocious sack or a vicious tackle in the backfield fire up the crowd more than a block or a big shot.
Although the NHL has the violence factor, perhaps arguably even more than the NFL, let's be honest, it's a Canadian sport that hasn't yet been fully grasped by the American public.
It's exciting to watch in person, but on TV its only one step up from baseball. Casual fans don't take the time to understand a game that is barely televised nationally and involves ice skating with a barely-visible puck.
Hockey, basketball and baseball may take more individual skill, but football is solidly a team sport. A star quarterback or running back need a strong offensive line to succeed, while a batter can hit a home run on his own.
I suppose a pitcher needs the defense to get him outs...but anyway, let's move on.
Consider tailgating. Do you know anybody who camps outside an NBA arena four or more hours before tip-off?
Think about spending a good amount of cash for a ticket to sit through a game that winds up with your team losing 1-0, in the 17th inning or in a shootout? Okay, maybe shootouts are exciting, but watching 17 innings of baseball with only one run scored equals laying in a hospital room for a day with a full body cast.
At least in the NFL, the lowest scoring game is 2-0, unless your unfortunate enough to suffer through a tie, of which their have been only four since 1989.
The NFL is full of action, suspense, nail-biting finishes and superstar athletes. It is the most competitive league of the big four.
In the last 10 seasons, a different team has represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Yankees win the World Series every other year (not to mention a salary cap helps the NFL), and the Lakers and the Celtics have played in the finals twice in the last three years, along with the 52 combined appearances since the series began.
The NFL players play outside in almost any conditions. That in itself literally adds another "element" to the game—snow, ice, rain, high winds, you name it.
If you're into cheerleaders, it'll be tough to find a NHL squad or MLB club with them.
Or if you're a fantasizer, fantasy football was on top before fantasy basketball, baseball or even hockey were ever created.
Try hosting a party for the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals or World Series. See how many people show up.
Maybe a party for a Game 7 would make sense, but how often do the leagues gift fans with one of those? Super Bowl Sundays bring more parties than even New Year's Eve.
If a lockout would occur in 2011, Americans might actually get interested in hockey, follow the NBA before the playoffs and wait anxiously for spring training.
Nevertheless, it would be a depressing winter for fans of the best professional sports league in the US.
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