The 2008 NFL season is odd. There’s something missing. It lacks energy. Brett Favre is a New York Jet.
Don’t misconstrue my message. I’ve enjoyed watching the NFL this year. There have been some great games, terrific performances, and fantastic finishes.
However, the most memorable moments have been notorious, not noteworthy: Ed Hochuli’s bad call in Denver, DeSean Jackson dropping the ball in celebration of scoring a touchdown before actually entering the end zone, and Tom Brady’s season-ending knee injury.
Perhaps that last event soured the season. With Brady sidelined, the NFL is without its marquee player and its most dominant team, the New England Patriots. They aren’t at full strength (no offense to Matt Cassel, who’s already been sacked 25 times).
That’s okay. The greatest sports league in the world can certainly overcome such a calamity. One of the other NFL superstars, such as Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson, or Reggie Bush, can step up and fill the void left by Brady’s sudden departure.
Sadly, none of aforementioned players have stepped up their performances.
Manning’s quarterback rating is 80. Tomlinson is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. Yes, Bush is tied for the league lead in touchdowns with eight, but that’s only because the Minnesota Vikings’ punt coverage team decided to take Mondays off.
Forget about the players. Let’s look at the teams. Surely, one of the NFL’s perennial powerhouses can step up and replace the Patriots as the league’s most dominant team?
After two bad losses and Tony Romo out with a broken finger, the Dallas Cowboys appear to be slipping out of the playoff picture. They also seem to be self imploding every night on SportsCenter.
The Chargers are up and down. The Broncos can’t tackle. The Colts look old. The Eagles can’t make a big play down the stretch, and in the NFC North, the Packers and Bears are competing to see which team is the most average.
With all these stalwarts playing so poorly, it’s no wonder off-the-field antics have grabbed most of the attention: Al Davis’ embarrassing press conference, Vince Young’s mental state, Adam Jones’ suspension, and three coach firings.
Also, doesn’t it feel like there's been an inordinate amount of injuries? “Out for the season” has been the NFL’s most spoken phrase of the year.
But, before we start panicking like a Fox executive learning the Tampa Bay Rays made the World Series, let’s put things in perspective. Maybe it’s odd now to realize the league’s top teams are the Tennessee Titans, the Buffalo Bills, and the Arizona Cardinals. Maybe it’s odd now to hear Trent Edwards mentioned as MVP candidate, but it may not be odd come playoff time.
So while you’re watching football this Sunday, just remember there was a time when Tom Brady was "Tom Who?" and the New England Patriots were the "Buffalo Bills."
This odd feeling will soon pass.