Fifth Quarter

And that’s it.  Football season is over.  The mad rush that started in September has run its course, and we fans are now faced with prospect of suffering through golf and auto racing on Sundays while the seemingly endless NBA and NHL playoffs roll on and on and on.  The NFL has the shortest season of any professional sport, a fleeting six months, while basketball and hockey go on for nearly three-quarters of a year, and baseball not much less.  As I’ve said before, it’s that relative blink of a season that makes football so much better for me.

Thing is though, the NFL has managed to become a year-round league.  The Super Bowl might be over, but we’ve got the scouting combine at the end of the month, where we’ll obsess over guys running in straight lines and jumping in place as if that’s what football is actually about.  Mid-March sees the start of free agency, and we’ll complain that our team didn’t sign every name we’re familiar with, a clear sign the 2014-15 season is already lost.  The draft gets pushed back to May this year, but it’ll still be a three-day refresher to carry us through summer until training camps open in July.  Then it’s a month of pre-season games that we’ll complain about even as we watch every single one, and before we know it, it’ll be September and everyone will be 0-0 and even the Browns will have a shot at the Super Bowl.

There might only be six months of actual games, but there’s only two over which the league won’t cast its shadow.  Sure, a lot of it is a sideshow — all the analysis and prognostication born of free agency and the draft often goes out the window once teams actually start playing — but it’s an expertly crafted slow burn that keeps football fans primed and ready without wearing them out.  It’s a series of peaks and valleys that feed off each other until we’re at a fever pitch by September, and it carries through the next 22 weeks.

So we football fans might grumble about having nothing to do now that the season is over, but really, the off-season is just as eventful as the regular season.  We’ll be just as annoying with no actual games going on as we are when they’re happening.


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