The task was to identify an NFL team whose perception remained unchanged from September to the end of the season. Could it be New England? No. Pittsburgh? No. Arizona? No. Dallas? No. San Francisco? No. New Orleans? No. Cleveland? No. San Diego? No. Miami? No. Seattle? No.
The exercise could have been repeated for all 32 teams, and while a few might have appeared consistent, the majority had shifted dramatically from their initial impressions. This phenomenon raised a fundamental question: Why does this happen?
Was 2014 a weird year, or had the NFL entered some inexplicable football time warp? It felt as though Alfred Hitchcock was directing the league. Yet, in truth, this state of flux was a recurring theme, year in and year out.
In the NFL, the identity of a team in September proved inconsequential. The September NFL Championship, a title sought after by fans and media alike, turned out to be a hollow prize. It was akin to attaching value to an obsolete currency.
Nonetheless, the annual September emotions, oscillating between panic and jubilation, resembled a performance of last rites for a common cold. Colds had endured countless times before, and their transience was well-known. Yet, people conveniently disregarded their knowledge.
The persistent collective amnesia year after year has baffled observers. It was as if the NFL operated on a perpetual Groundhog Day loop without recollecting the arduous first step. Indeed, the first step was always the most daunting, a fact consistently overlooked.
This peculiar phenomenon was one of the most baffling aspects of the sports world. Intelligent individuals often act contrary to their better judgment.
Every September, someone seemed to deploy a Men in Black-style memory eraser, and a surprisingly high number of people willingly stared into the proverbial light. It might have been unbelievable if it hadn’t occurred so predictably over time.
We’re through 9 weeks of the NFL. If the season was a game, we’re 3 1/2 minutes into the 3rd quarter.
A person who would vociferously protest every time water descended from the sky might be deemed irrational, wouldn’t they?
After all, rain is a common occurrence, and its regularity makes it far from surprising. Yet, there exists this peculiar and socially accepted madness when it comes to fretting over or celebrating the ever-shifting states of NFL teams.
This accepted lunacy could be likened to worrying about the inevitable alterations in the NFL landscape as a matter of historical precedent and the principles of probability and fact.
The genuine astonishment would be if a team remained unchanged throughout the extended NFL journey. Now, that would be a remarkable feat.
The inquisition about a particular team’s prospects in the Super Bowl has become a familiar refrain directed at the author.
While a profound understanding of football is within grasp, the truth remains that predicting Super Bowl participants based on knowledge from the first week of November—or even what was known a month earlier—is an exercise in futility.
The games have yet to be played, and the uncertainty surrounding player availability due to injuries is a well-documented variable. It’s practically written on the label of the sport.
The wisdom from the NFL in September is arguably the most misguided insight.
November NFL wisdom, though marginally better, is comparable to feeling overly self-assured after transitioning from middle school to first year. Some knowledge is acquired, but the path ahead is lengthy and uncertain.
In reality, the author and others in the same position comprehend very little at these junctures, apart from the hypothetical prowess of their teams if championship games occurred in the first weeks of October or November.
Upon verification, it’s evident that such games do not take place at those times.
The author, now working in football media, readily acknowledges their involvement in this ongoing narrative.
It’s a source of undeniable frustration, leading to relentless efforts to find a way to help people retain a sense of perspective. Perhaps tying giant strings on their fingers or covering their house in Post-It notes would be effective memory aids.
The author doesn’t shy away from confessing their penchant for forgetfulness in their personal life.
Remembering the names of individuals they don’t encounter regularly proves to be a challenging endeavor. They drive diesel vehicles and rely on the clever design of the nozzle to prevent them from making disastrous fueling mistakes.
The simplicity of placing a dirty dish into a dishwasher is not lost on them. However, the gravitational pull of the sink often acts like a “dumb-dumb tractor beam,” leading them astray.
They humorously speculate that if their spouse ever contemplates suffocating them with a pillow in their sleep, it might involve some sink and dishwasher-related incident.
The author considers the possibility of taking shortcuts by applying these insights, suggesting that they seem evident because of their extensive experience with multiple NFL seasons.
Nevertheless, they maintain that the NFL meticulously records the events of each season, even double-checking with a Google search.
As they reflect on the first nine weeks of the NFL season, they liken it to a game where they are only about three and a half minutes into the third quarter of a competitive contest.
They draw wisdom from Bill Belichick’s practice of urging teams to stop obsessing over the unknowable, which led to improvement.
They believe this philosophy could enhance the way fans experience the world’s most excellent game, albeit acknowledging it as a personal perspective.
They offer humorous, exaggerated descriptions of NFL teams’ current standings, such as the Patriots being the greatest thing since sliced bread, the Dolphins being war-ready, Pittsburgh being an offensive powerhouse, and Seattle lacking the ability to incite fear.
However, the author wisely concludes that all these perceptions are subject to change and encourages readers to inscribe this notion on their foreheads.
In closing, they intend to tend to their dishwasher, leaving readers with a humorous and memorable note.