by Robert Ferringo - 07/21/2005
And so it goes.
The carnal pleasures of another long, sticky summer are slowly but surely coming to a close. It isn't over, but the end is in sight. Many people will make a final, futile push in the next six weeks to extend the most celebrated of the seasons. They will fail, and most likely burn a mortgage payment or relationship chasing the eternal dream of an endless summer. But I welcome the halt of this torturous heat, and have begun counting the hours until Sept. 8. That's when the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders meet to start the 2005 NFL season, bringing those awesome displays of Speed and Violence that distinguish the NFL back into our lives.
Over the last few years I've slowly grown to feel as if baseball, basketball, golf, tennis and most of the other sports are simply pleasant diversions until professional football returns. Those other sports are much like the young, supple-breasted girls that you used to fool around with during the summer months of your formative years. You enjoyed them at the time, but you knew that you'd break it off and leave her behind once the crisp air of autumn replaces the thick humidity of the summer. I'm starting to tie up my loose ends now, because it's becoming time to focus.
Football is King in this country. It is the new National Pastime. An estimated $300 million dollars was bet on NFL games last year (I'm sure it was double or triple that when you add in offshore wagering). Over $100 million was spent on fantasy football alone. A total of 17,000,081 tickets were sold (90 percent of available capacity) at NFL stadiums last year. Also, the all-powerful Nielsen ratings indicate that NFL football is by far the most watched sport in the nation.
On Sunday, July 24 training camps officially begin for the 2005 NFL season, with my beloved Chicago Bears the first to get back to work. Others will soon follow. Before we know it our televisions will be rid of Italian cyclists and South African caddies, and replaced again with barbaric 280-pound mutants clad in polycarbonate plastic composite helmets and high-density polyurethane shells. There will be brutal collisions, and grown men's screams will get lost in the echo caused by the frantic howling of 70,000 bloodthirsty spectators.
Let me be the first to welcome back safety blitzes, third-and-long, full house backfields, two-minute drills, blind-side hits, dragging the second foot in bounds, fourth-and-goal, and a thousand other moments that are lost on the other six months of the year.
I'm ready to embrace the hazy gaze of ten beers consumed before 1 p.m. - necessary fuel to combat the guilt that comes with such blatant excess and greed on the Lord's Day. My hair stands up at the thought of the perfectly played parlay, the backdoor cover, office pool domination or late-round fantasy steals. These moments of fleeting joy and raw humanity are good for the soul and have become rites of the fall.
The beauty of pro football is that it resolves its own contradictions within itself. A team's season is built on destruction. The league is both collective and individualistic. Each organization is given the same amount of resources, but each team is nowhere near equal. "The Team" always comes first, but the sacrifices of each "Individual" are glorified. The running back makes 15 times more than the long snapper, but each can have an equally drastic impact on the outcome of a game. It is a game of duality, and it brings out what is great and what is vile about being a sports addict.
The 2005 NFL season will be exactly the same as yet completely different from every one that has come before it. So we'll pick up where we left off, with the Patriots on the throne. They are the undisputed champions of the football world and already one of the great dynasties in the history of the game. However, they will face perhaps their toughest test to date this season: the loss of two key coordinators (defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss), the uncertain condition of their defensive leader (linebacker Tedy Bruschi), the loss of four starters and several key backups, and the continued improvement of the top teams in the American Football Conference.
Besides the issues surrounding the champions, there are several other stories that have unfolded since the end of last season. The solutions to these situations will go a long way in shaping the upcoming season. Some of the most compelling are:
- The Terrell Owens Contract Conundrum in Philly.
- The trade that sent Randy Moss to Oakland, and spearheaded the restructuring of the Minnesota Vikings.
- Peyton Manning's slow, but steady morph into Dan Marino.
- The shift of teams (could be as many as 10) from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 base, most likely an effort to copy the success of the Patriots.
These are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is always the ongoing struggle to predict which rookies will breakout, what injury will cripple a team's season, and what team will find the right chemistry and luck to become the "What the f*$%" team this year.
So here's how we'll do this: over the next two weeks Doc's Sports will provide a full breakdown of every team in all eight divisions. We'll take a look at odds, projections, schedules, etc. in order to get you primed and pumped for the start of the season. We'll have updates during the preseason, and then you'll be able to come back to purchase picks and predictions from the proven experts at Doc's. We'll also provide analysis throughout the season geared toward your goal - making money. That's as solid a game plan as I can think of. And just like the cliché you hear from Super Bowl-winning coaches every year - victory starts with a vision and solid preparation in the offseason, and then it comes down to execution during the year. That's what we're here for.
At this moment, every team is a Super Bowl contender for the 2005 NFL season. Players, coaches, vendors, reporters, bartenders, radio broadcasters, gambling junkies all have an equal opportunity. Most will fail on their quest for Greatness. But everyone has a shot.
Doc's Sports early bird full season football package is now available! Football is what made Doc famous and no one knows college and NFL better than the team at Doc's Sports. Even thought we are still weeks away we have been getting many signups for our early bird special - full season only $725. This will increase to our normal price of $975 once the season gets closer so sign up now and take advantage of this great offer. Click the football picks link to sign up.