Here’s the test: Find an NFL team you feel the same about today as you did at the end of September. New England? No. Pittsburgh? No. Arizona? No. Dallas? No. San Francisco? No. New Orleans? No. Cleveland? No. San Diego? No. Miami? No. Seattle? No.
We could go through this exercise for all 32 teams, and for the few you might think have mainly remained the same, there are undoubtedly many more that have defied expectations.
Why is this?
Is 2014 some sort of weird year? Are we experiencing a professional football anomaly? Is Alfred Hitchcock secretly the acting NFL commissioner?
Or is this, more or less, the usual state of affairs…year after year after year after year?
In the NFL, who you are in September holds little significance, folks.
The September NFL Championship is one of those coveted fan and media prizes that carries about as much value as an unspent Vietnamese Dong.
Yet, the annual September surge of panic or joy is akin to performing the last rites every time someone catches a cold.
We all know colds don’t endure. They’ve happened countless times before. But we choose to feign ignorance of things we’re well aware of.
We’re through 9 weeks of the NFL season. If the season itself was a game, we’re 3 1/2 minutes into the 3rd quarter.
Wouldn’t a person who screamed at the sky every time water fell from it be considered a lunatic? It’s a common occurrence, after all. No surprises there.
Yet there’s this peculiar accepted madness surrounding fretting (or rejoicing) over NFL states of affairs that are inevitably destined to shift.
In terms of history. In terms of probability. In terms of reality. The true marvel would be keeping your team unchanged throughout a long NFL journey. Now THAT would be truly remarkable.
I’m constantly being asked about _____________’s prospects in the Super Bowl. While I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about football, the truth is, I have no damn clue who will or won’t make it to the Super Bowl based on what I know in the first week of November… let alone what I knew a month ago.
The games haven’t even taken place yet. We can’t predict who will play in those games due to potential injuries. It’s pretty much written on the label or something.
September NFL insights are arguably the most unreliable. November NFL insights are only marginally better… akin to feeling a little too self-assured after moving from middle school to freshman year.
You’ve learned some things, but there’s still a loooooong way to go.
At this point, we know next to nothing. Only how formidable our team would be if they were playing championship games in early October or November. I just double-checked… and they’re not.
I’m clearly part of the football media now, so I’m fully immersed in this, no doubt. I won’t deny it; it can be exasperating. I find myself going in circles, brainstorming ways to help people remember. Should I tie giant strings on my fingers? Stick Post-It notes all over the house?
Sheer, unapologetic forgetfulness is a familiar companion of mine. Remembering the names of people I don’t see regularly is not my strong suit in my personal life.
I drive a diesel vehicle, and if the manufacturers hadn’t been clever enough to design a distinct nozzle shape, I’d probably end up putting the wrong fuel in and causing a mess every time.
There’s nothing in life more straightforward than placing a dirty dish in a dishwasher.
Yet, the allure of the sink acts like a magnet for my absent-mindedness almost every time.
If my wife ever contemplates putting a pillow over my head while I’m sleeping, it will have something to do with sinks and dishwashers.
Maybe I’m taking a shortcut here. Perhaps these things only seem obvious because I’ve weathered many NFL seasons. But I promise you, they meticulously document everything that unfolds in the NFL each year. They write it all down. I just Googled it to double-check.
So, here we are, nine weeks into the NFL season. If we were to liken the season to a game, we’d only be about three and a half minutes into the third quarter of a competitive match.
Bill Belichick had a knack for reminding our teams to stop attempting to grasp the ungraspable. It made us better.
I suspect it would also enhance how we comprehend the world’s most excellent game. But that might just be me.
Today, the Patriots are hailed as the best thing since sliced bread. The Dolphins might as well be considered Spartans in a war.
Pittsburgh is a touchdown-producing powerhouse, more flawlessly offensive than a massive block of blue cheese in a dumpster. And Seattle would only frighten you if you found Monsters, Inc. scary.
But all of that will probably change.
You might want to jot it down on your forehead. Enjoy the rest of the NFL season. I’m off to load the dishwasher…