By Michael K. Reynolds
One of the most popular refrains for football fans is, “I can’t wait until the pre-season is over.”
I’ve never understood this sentiment as the pre-season is actually (and perhaps surprisingly) my favorite part of the NFL year and here is why:
ONE: WE’RE ALL JONESING FOR FOOTBALL
By the time training camp opens most diehard fans are absolutely frothing at the bit for any type of football action and news.
No…the pre-season is not the Super Bowl in terms of action and significance by any means, but it arrives at a time when the even the slightest scrap of football tastes like prime rib.
TWO: IT’S THE BIG REVEAL OF THE NFL DRAFT
Football fans have become absolutely batty about the NFL Draft. ESPN’s ratings through the years have shot through the roof and the pick-by-pick analysis is a many-month long process and a prime time affair.
But the pre-season is where the rubber of team’s offseason truly hits the road. From round one to round seven, undrafted free agents and new acquired free agency signings; this is where the future of the team comes to full light.
For those of us who love seeing young, new talent, and how they measure up against their opponents the pre-season is pure joy. Once the regular season begins, very few of these players will get much time on the field so this is the chance to peer in the team’s crystal ball.
Forget Mel Kiper Jr. and his big boards. This is where fans get to score their team’s NFL Draft.
THREE: IT’S BOTH FOOTBALL AND A PICNIC
One of the biggest complaints about the pre-season is the games don’t really matter.
That’s actually one of the benefits as well. Because the coaches can use these games to conduct mad experiments. Do crazy things. Everybody wants to win…but if we don’t…meh…it’s not a big deal.
It makes for an enjoyable, relaxing time to enjoy the team. Much fewer bricks thrown through the television, much less fear of strokes and heart attacks. For this is the time when all teams are full of hope and promise.
FOUR: THE FULL SEASON LIES AHEAD
The regular season goes by in a flash. Last year, the Steelers had for all practical purposes eliminated themselves by the fourth game of the season in London. Before we can even blink an eye, the season ends, and results in bitter disappointment for the fans of 31 teams.
But the best thing about the pre-season is the entire regular season, playoffs and Super Bowl lie ahead…a beautiful gift wrapped and waiting for us under the tree.