Sept. 24, 2016 – The Day Before Game Three

It’s the day before game three. How are you feeling about your season so far? I’m feeling pretty crappy and with very little hope. I try to stay positive, I mean we’ve only played two games. The problem is, we’ve looked really bad in more than half of each game. The bigger problem is we have more injured players than healthy. Ok so that’s not quite the case but it sure feels like it. Last Monday night it was one player after another. Why are so many players getting injured? Why? Why? Why? Is it due to the lack of true game like practice? But that’s another blog. Stay tuned.

If your team is 2-0 you so far are feeling pretty good. If you’re like me and your team is 0-2 you’re not too excited. Again, I try really hard to stay positive and if the games were close I’d be ok. Not so much. They looked terrible and now key players are out. I won’t give up yet but statistics for a team to go 0-3 and make the playoffs are like slim to none. I mean only five teams have made it since 1970 that have started 0-3. It’s tough to feel your season is over by week three. I know there are worse things in the world but when you wait six months and your hopes and dreams are dashed in three weeks it’s heartbreaking. Especially for the fans that spend their hard earned money going to games home and away. It’s a choice yes but it’s also a passion, it’s an escape. It’s football for crying out loud and some of us just love it. Is it too much to ask to just give us a little hope for a little more than three weeks?

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Sept. 18, 2016 – New theme song for Sunday Night Football

Is it me or does the new theme song for Sunday Night Football lack something? It just doesn’t have that rhythm or that I want to sing along pizazz to it. I mean I’d look forward to the start of the game and that song and the video that went along with it. Why did they have to change it? Why? What was wrong with it? I mean even after a day of football, getting up early, going to the game, experiencing the joy of victory or the agony of defeat, I still couldn’t wait for another football game because it’s true, I’d been waiting all day for Sunday Night. The 3rd game of the day, another game to enjoy before facing the fact there’s work tomorrow. It just had a great beat. You knew the words and sang along.

I’m sure eventually the old will be forgotten and the new will seem normal. I mean honestly, I had forgotten that I used to be asked if I was ready for some football every Monday Night. How about you?

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Sept. 11, 2016 – Opening Day 2016 – It’s Finally Here!

Finally, opening day of the NFL season. I know. Thursday night was the official kickoff game of the season. For the majority of us though, today is opening day. The day we’ve waited for since February for football. The off season for some was longer than for others. Most fans have interest in other things, other sports, but for the die hard NFL fan this is it. For the next 21 weeks, we can talk about football, we can listen to sports talk about football, we can watch football, we can dream about football. We determine our daily schedule around football. We play in our pools and pick our fantasy teams and pretend we know what it’s like to be the General Manager of a team. We have days we proudly wear our team colors from head to toe and we have days we almost wish our license plate didn’t let the world know we’re a fan.

Whether you go to the game or sit home and watch, it begins with joy, with hope. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

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Sept. 10, 2016 – The Day Before, Have Blind Hope

One more day until the fun begins! One more day until the countdown to Super Bowl LI begins. One more day until the joy of victory or the agony of defeat becomes a Sunday mainstay. Or for some weeks, it happens on a Thursday or Monday. Whatever day your team takes the field, the day begins with hope, no matter what the past week brought, there should always be some hope at the start of the day. As the day progresses and the game is played, that hope transforms into triumphant or “ugh, here we go again.”

Today though everyone should have some hope. All but one team (Carolina since they lost Thursday night) is still on the road to 16-0. Every team has a chance at the ultimate prize, the Lombard trophy. Even if your team was terrible last year, it could happen. We’ve seen it happen. The surprise team that comes out of nowhere and totally turns around their season and goes from last to first. We’ve seen it, from last place to winning the division and beyond!

Today, think with your heart, think like a fan that can only see in team colors. Believe it can happen. Picture it, there you are, in the stands, in Houston, in February, going crazy, jumping up and down, screaming like there’s no tomorrow, “We won the Super Bowl!”

Just for today, don’t let reality creep into your thoughts. Enjoy the day! Bask in the possibilities because tomorrow, that could all change.

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Sept. 5, 2016 – Saying good-bye to a beloved player

We’ve all had to do it. We’ve all had to say good-bye. We’ve all seen one of our “guys” get released or traded. We hear it all the time, football is a business. That doesn’t make it any easier when it happens.

Last night, seven days before the NFL season starts, the Chicago Bears released 11-year veteran, all 11 years with the Bears, kicker Robbie Gould. What? I know he struggled in pre-season and was making over $3m for the season but it’s Robbie!!! He’s the Bears all-time leading scorer! The oldest team in the NFL. The all-time leading scorer I said as well as their most accurate kicker. Wow! And we love Robbie! Fans love him and we trust Robbie! He wasn’t perfect but when he went on the field we were pretty sure we’d be hearing “Bear Down” play shortly after.

It’s seven days before the seasons starts! We went 1-3 in pre-season and for the most part looked horrible in the first three games and you release one of our mainstays? One of the very few players on the team we have all the confidence in the world in? Please tell me I’m dreaming. Please pinch me so I can wake up and see this was a horrible nightmare!

Robbie will get picked up by another team I’m sure. I hope he does. We did sign another kicker. One that is younger and cheaper and um, played in a dome last year. Please tell me he’ll be practicing during the week at Soldier Field as the wind can get pretty crazy and swirl around during those fall and winter games by the lake.

Goodbye Robbie. Hello Connor Barth. Hello 2016 NFL season. I’ll get over it. I’ll recover. It just won’t be easy or quick but I’ll get over it just like I have all the other cuts and trades.

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Sept. 4, 2016 – Four days and counting

Four days until it starts. Four days until Sunday becomes a day when faces are painted, flags are flown, homes and friendships become divided, and the quest for Houston in February begins.  Four days until team colors are the normal apparel and certain other color combinations become forbidden to be worn. Four days until the 2016 NFL season begins. It’s been a long off season. Training camp is over. Pre-season games are played. It’s time for the real thing.

Four days and we get teased with the prospect of the season beginning. It’s just one game. One game featuring a rematch of the Super Bowl which really isn’t a rematch considering the Broncos no longer have Peyton. Then we anxiously wait for three more days for Sunday. Sunday when there’s over ten hours of football. If you add in the pre-game and post-game shows it is well over sixteen hours of football. Sixteen hours of pure heaven, unless of course your team losses. Then it’s “well, I guess we won’t be undefeated this year.”

Four more days. I can “bearly” wait.

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Aug. 21, 2016 – 50/50 Raffle at NFL games – Stepping up for Others

I just read, as it was scrolling across the bottom of my television screen, on the NFL Network (I’m desperate for football. I was watching a pre-season game, of which neither team was my team.) that the New Orleans Saints are donating the proceeds from their two pre-season games to the Louisiana flood victims. I thought the way it read it meant all proceeds from the game and thought WOW! That’s awesome. Way to go Saints! Stepping up to help your fans, and probably some who aren’t, in their time of need.

As I was writing this I thought maybe I should research to see how much this might be and discovered, as least from what I interpret, they are actually going to start having 50/50 raffles at every home game and donate the money to charity. The two pre-season games donations will be for the flood victims. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great idea. I’ve often wondered why NFL teams’ charitable organizations don’t have 50/50 raffles at games. They have it at NHL, NBA, and MLB games. These are much smaller audiences, 20,000+ (40,000 for MLB) compared to 60,000 to 80,000 and more at NFL stadiums. I’ve seen those totals get over $50,000 hockey and basketball games. Even with just half of that going to charity it’s a nice amount. So triple or quadruple that and it’s a nice chunk of change.  I was at Soldier Field when the Blackhawks played there in a Stadium Series game a few years ago in a snowstorm, and the total to split was $80,000+.

Yet, hats off to the Saints and the other NFL teams for finally figuring out what the NHL, NBA, and MLB have know for quite some time. There may be NFL teams that have done this before this year and I’m just not aware of it. I didn’t take time to research it. I’ve been to every stadium except Buffalo and I don’t recall ever seeing a 50/50 raffle.

So when you go to a game this year, take a few extra dollars to buy a ticket for a chance to win a great prize and to help others in need.

That said though, donating the proceeds from two 50/50 raffles is not the same as donating the proceeds from two pre-season games. Somehow this got lost in the translation to the NFL Network.

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Aug. 14, 2016 – Get Off the Ledge – It’s Just Pre-season

I waited seven long months for football. Actually longer than that since my team didn’t make the playoffs and all you can give at the first pre-season game is 0. Yes, 0. Really? You lose 22-0. 0!!! You couldn’t even give me a field goal? And all you can give is 130 yards of total offense? UGH!!!! I waited how long for this?

Ok, it’s just the first pre-season game. I’ve taken a number of deep breaths and I’ve gotten off the ledge. I have told myself I will repeat over and over again, it’s just pre-season, it’s just pre-season. Because well, it is just the first game of pre-season football, and how much should I expect from my team? How much? I freaking expect them to come out as excited as I am about football being back and play like they care as much as I do! Is that too much to ask? Is it?

Maybe it is. Maybe I should just settle down and tell myself they are the professionals. The coaches know what they are doing. It will be ok. Simmer down, at least until the first game of the regular season. See how they play then. See if they come out pumped up with visions of an undefeated season and winning the Super Bowl. Just wait. Be patient. See how they are at the first game. Then you can make judgement.

We begin the season in Houston. Are they focused on ending the season in Houston? Site of Super Bowl LI? They sure better be cause I know I am.

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Aug. 13, 2016 – The Paint was Wrong?

Last Sunday evening was supposed to be the first pre-season game of 2016. I was so excited even if it was pre-season and not my team playing. I, like I know many times fans, just wanted football. Any football. I just needed football. It had been seven months since the Super Bowl. I’m not into watching baseball and hockey in Chicago ended too early this year. I just wanted some football.

Then an hour before the game is to start it’s announced the game is cancelled due to field conditions. Field conditions? It’s freaking sunny in Canton! What is wrong with the the field? It’s not like it was just used a week or so ago for a game. The Hall of Fame Enshrinement was there last night but that happens every year. The enshrinement Saturday night, game Sunday night. What is different?

Now don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t want any player to get hurt so if it’s a safety issue, the absolute right decision was made. But because the wrong paint was used on the logo this is the reason? What? What? The wrong paint? Seriously? This field had been used once for the Super Bowl in New Orleans. It was used once! Ummm… Weren’t there logos on the field? The wrong paint was used? Unbelievable!

So the game was cancelled and we had to wait four days for football. Are there worse things going on in the world? Absolutely. I, as well as other fans, survived. Just please NFL, please, try to get the simple things right.

July 30, 2016 – It’s Official – Football Season is Here!

It’s here! It’s here! Finally! Football season is here! Well, technically the season doesn’t start for a few weeks if you consider it starting with the pre-season games. For me, once I see the boys on the field in uniform, pads or no pads, it means football is here! Today was that day!

Ventured down to Bourbonnais, or “Bearbonnais” as it is called for a few weeks in July and August, for today’s practice at training camp. After waiting in line for several hours, on purpose to be first in line to get in and get good seats, football officially began. There they were, pads and all. I was in heaven and it was painted blue and orange. The energy and enthusiasm on the field was echoed off the field and into the stands. As at all training camps, there is hope, there is belief, there are dreams of heading to Houston (site of the Super Bowl) in February in every fan’s mind. For a brief moment, or perhaps until that first injury, that first loss, there is no facing reality, just the belief my team will be the first to go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl! A true fan, at this point of the season, must listen to their heart, not their head that says, hey, they were 6-10 last year, they didn’t make huge changes during the off season, how much improvement will there be? Have we really gotten better than our division opponents?

I’m going to leave those thoughts until the season begins and the reality of the team is revealed on the field. Until then, I will live in that fantasy world of hope and victory, cheering every catch and every interception with joy and triumph. I won’t let the fact that it’s the offense against the defense and every catch means the defense missed a chance at an intersection and every interception means the offense messed up.

No, I’m giving myself a few weeks to just live with the dream and vision of the Lombardi Trophy being hoisted by my team, of me dancing in the stands, and shouting “we just won the Super Bowl”! That is going to be my reality, at least until September anyway.

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