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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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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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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