New columnist Tony Garcia writes in response to the recently released NFL schedule for the upcoming season. Turns out that the sports outlets aren't the ones holding the Power of Grayskull. Here's Tony...
If there was any doubt who the supreme king ruler of the sports world was here in the US and A, please just stop doubting now. Early last week there was a lot of speculation rolling around the offices of ESPN, CBS, NBC and any other major network that claims to be a sports news reporting agency that the 2014 NFL schedule would be out sometime this week. Speculation was the schedule would be announced Tuesday, April 22nd.
Flash forward (or by the time you read this, rewind) to Tuesday morning. If there was ever a day that the NFL flexed its muscle it was this day. There was an announcement to be made. Everyone made a big deal out of it and if there was ever a significant "nothing" announcement, this was it. It reminded me of something that would come from a Ron Burgundy/Champ Kind telecast. In fact, when I heard what the NFL did, I kind of just imagined Ron Burgundy breaking the news over my radio like only he could:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you're doing and listen…The National Football League would like to announce that they are making the announcement that the 2014 NFL schedule will be released tomorrow at 7pm, live on the NFL Network."
So basically there was an announcement that they were going to be announcing the schedule the very next day. An announcement of an announcement. And you know what? It worked. The internet was set on fire with re-tweets of all beat writers from all 32 NFL teams. The NFL buzz was flying. To be the king you have to act like the king. And since Roger Goodell has taken over, that's exactly what the NFL has done. They are the undisputed king of the sports world. It doesn't matter how mundane the news, the sports cycle revolves around the NFL. And rightly so.
To create so much buzz from such a seemingly insignificant event just proves what the NFL has become in this country. What I like about Roger Goodell is it seems he won't stop. There are always goals to achieve that are bigger and better than the current state. Just listen to all the pundits on ESPN hyping the NFL Draft right now. You can't turn on a sports channel and not hear the names Mel Kiper Jr, Todd McShay or Mike Mayock right now. The NFL has grown exponentially over the last 10 or so years. It's not like theres a major lull in sports right now either. The NBA playoffs and Stanley Cup Playoffs are in their first week and most of those series remain interesting, even to the casual sports fan. But the announcement of the NFL schedule took priority in many households.
So what about the schedule? Did I even look at it? What can we expect?
You bet your last dollar I checked it out. I went straight to the Chicago Bears schedule and did exactly what I hate the local sports radio pundits do. I went week by week….win, win, loss, win, loss, loss….and 10-6 is what I eventually came up with. We haven't even had the draft. Off season programs literally just started this past week. Teams, both good and bad, will add several players that will guaranteed still make a difference on the rosters throughout the year. In other words its too soon to even predict anything.
I wasn't the only one to do this. Turn on any sports program in America and they no doubt took time to go week by week and break down the schedules, adding up the wins and losses for all 32 teams. It's a madness and sickness that you would think I hate from reading these words, but I absolutely love it. Here in Chicago football is a religion. We pray the "Our Father" with a few creative lyrical changes here and there. Ditka, Butkus, Payton…they're all mentioned in the prayer. God, he doesn't mind. Who hasn't changed the lyrics to a famous tune from time to time?
Since I am a huge fan of the NFL game, not just a Bears fan, I also took a look at the other games of note throughout the schedule. There's plenty to chew on if you enjoy watching the other teams. Fantasy Football has changed the way people view the game. You will find yourself rooting for other teams and players once your team is eliminated from contention. I'll cover the effect of Fantasy Football some other day (probably in early August), but for now I'll just mention that it has changed the game in a good way. Its brought more casual fans into the game. And that's why the NFL machine is what it is today.
You can go week by week and find the games that are meaningful. Usually those games are reserved for Sunday Night Football on NBC and Monday Night Football on ESPN. For me, I'm watching the Denver Broncos this year. This could be it for Peyton Manning and I want to watch his greatness until he can no longer perform.
Seattle vs San Franciso: We're lucky to get two of these games per year. These teams hate each other and you can see that out on the field. These are the games you almost want to wear a helmet at home on the couch while watching. The hits are hard and often, much like an NHL playoff game.
Now that you're ready for some football much like the rest of the country, you only have one thing left to do. And that is sit and wait and be patient. Ok, I guess that's three things. It's only April. The draft hasn't even started. We have to sit through a few more weeks of Johnny Manziel and Jadaveon Clowney talk. Once the draft is over, Mel Kiper Jr and his perfect head of hair will head back to his lair in the mountains of Wyoming and prepare for another draft in 2015. What? He's from Baltimore!?!?! Absurd! After that we have OTA's. Then training camp in July. Then the dreadful 4 week preseason. THEN…it's game time! September is when the fun starts. So sit back, relax and put your feet up on that ottoman over there. May I suggest some Stanley Cup Playoff hockey to appetize your football hunger? Fret not, little one. The NFL king will be back soon enough.